The world at large is celebrating today, October 5, as the World Teachers’ Day or International Teachers’ Day. It is assumed to be a day set aside by countries of the world to celebrate the role of the teachers in the development of society. As laudable as this epoch initiated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) may seem, there is no gainsaying that many countries, including and essentially, Nigeria, may just be paying a mere lip-service to the pivotal role of the teacher in nation building.
The implication of a country that does not value the role of the teacher in its scale of preference of activities of professions is that, while other countries with high premium on teachers are celebrating theirs, countries with low premium on their teachers are merely mocking their teachers but pretending to join the rest of the world to celebrate them. There are plethora of indices to demonstrate countries that do not value their teachers and ought not to mock the teachers in the pretense of celebrating them. Unfortunately, most of those indices abound in Nigeria, as richly endowed in both human and natural resources as Nigeria is.
As it stands today, Nigerian teachers are about the worst paid on planet earth. Ridiculously also, where they are employed, whether in the private or public schools, their employers believe they are doing them a great favour by employing them in the first place and in return, expect unreserved gratitude from such teachers. Their condition and environment of teaching are usually, the most unconducive. It is worst and most appalling in the public schools, especially the public secondary and primary schools. In most of those schools a teacher is saddled with between 50 to 150 pupils or students as the case may be, and it is a far cry from the internationally recommended minimum standard ratio of pupils or students to a teacher.
[penci_blockquote style=”style-2″ align=”none” author=””]The government is the biggest culprit when it comes to the negligent treatment of teachers. As the saying goes, a country’s citizens is the sum total of the quality of teachers it has. Nobody has been able to come out with the actual amount a teacher takes home in Nigeria when juxtaposed with the ever rising cost of living and the enormity of the work the teacher does.[/penci_blockquote]
Talking about salaries, most private schools do not adhere to the N18, 000 minimum wage standard. A university graduate who ordinarily, should be placed on level-8 is offered between N18, 000 to N25, 000. In some of such schools such teacher can remain on that salary for as long as he remains in the school. Only a few private schools consider giving the teachers a regular salary increment. In a country like Nigeria where the cost of living continues on an unstoppable upward drive, the teacher is forced to look elsewhere to augment his meager take-home. This take-home, most of the time, does not get home with the teacher at the end of the month because he is forced to settle the previous month’s upkeep debts, if he has to remain credit worthy for the current month. School proprietors do not bother to find out the living condition of their teachers, of course, because he may be moved to tears and compelled to give the teacher a pay raise.
Teachers in both the public and private schools are expected to improve their qualification by undertaking further studies. Most of the times, they have to do that from their pockets. School proprietors do not see the need to put money aside to aid the teachers attend workshops, symposia and seminars. While some schools arrange in-house trainings for the teachers, others do not see the need or value of such training. As a result, many teachers remain with the same qualifications and training they had when they began their career. They are not exposed to changes and improvements in their chosen profession.
Most private and public schools provide disheveled staff rooms for teachers such that, they are merely provided with wooden benches or chairs and tables in rooms without air conditioners or adequate ventilations. Their staff rooms are designed in such a way that the teachers begin to hold themselves in low esteem. The pupils or students also tend to underrate and belittle them when they see the conditions of their staff room and how ill-equipped it is. Same goes for the parents of the students and pupils who visit the staff room. A lot of times, school proprietors do not regard teachers any better than they regard auxiliary staff such as cleaners, watchmen, and school bus drivers. As a result, you find situations where some school bus drivers earn higher salaries than teachers.
The government is the biggest culprit when it comes to the negligent treatment of teachers. As the saying goes, a country’s citizens is the sum total of the quality of teachers it has. Nobody has been able to come out with the actual amount a teacher takes home in Nigeria when juxtaposed with the ever rising cost of living and the enormity of the work the teacher does. The Nigerian government, both at the federal and state levels, treat teachers with despicable disdain. Gone are the days when teachers want to leave the profession for banking or oil industry jobs. By the actions and inactions of governments, they have created situations where many a teacher would prefer to leave the teaching job and get a job in the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) or Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corp (NSCDC) and other government agencies, thereby creating vacuums that are very difficult to fill. Governments in Nigeria are proud to tell the world that they are owing their teachers twelve or more month’s salaries, without imagining the implication in the lives of the children who learn under such teachers.
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When anybody considers the awful state that Nigeria has become, he should first give a thought that the despoliation of Nigeria began with the devastation of the country’s education system which itself started with the wanton disregard of the classroom teachers. And unless the country and its leaders retrace their steps and go back to the drawing board to right the wrongs done to the country’s education and the teachers saddled with the onerous task of refining our enormous raw human resources, the country will only continue to go from back to worse. As it stands, it will not be presumptuous to say that the teaching job in Nigeria is a last resort and quickly abandoned the moment a job springs up in other areas of life.
Educationtell will like to recommend that, as a first step to redressing this grave anomaly, every October 5 should be set aside as a public holiday for teachers, and rather than a day for mouthing empty celebratory wishes for teachers, turned to a day where Nigerian government at all tiers will hold seminars, symposia and workshops to evaluate the education the country provides and how to improve the life and working conditions of teachers. If this is done consistently, in a matter of years Nigeria will begin to record progress in her education and by extension the country will begin to witness remarkable growth and advancement. This is the whole essence of the World Teachers’ Day
Established in 1994, the Day commemorates the signing of the 1966 UNESCO/International Labour Organisation (ILO) recommendation concerning the status of teachers. It is a standard-setting instrument that addresses the status and situations of teachers around the world. The instrument outlines standards relating to education personnel policy, recruitment, and initial training as well as the continuing education of teachers, their employment, and working conditions. It focuses on “appreciating, assessing and improving the educators of the world” and to provide an opportunity to consider issues related to teachers and teaching. The 2018 theme; “The right to education means the right to a qualified teacher,” is apt as a qualified teacher should begin with a quality life for the teacher.