Stakeholders seek training, better pay as world celebrates teachers
In the world over, teachers are exemplary, because of their passion to impart knowledge on tomorrow’s leaders – children. Teachers play a crucial role in imparting knowledge and quality education. This role makes them key actors in the development of a nation. As the source of enlightenment, teachers teach real skills to students and help them discover paths in life.
They are seen as crucial partners in the growth and development of a nation, particularly, training of young ones. Without developing human capacity, the growth of any nation may be in jeopardy.
Former Director-General, National Teachers Institute (NTI), Kaduna, Prof. Garba Azare, once said that investment in teachers is imperative for the attainment of qualitative education.
Regrettably, successive governments have not given needed attention and priority to teachers and the profession.
It is in recognition of their contribution to transmitting knowledge to younger generations that the World Teachers’ Day is celebrated every year on October 5.
The theme for this year’s celebration is ‘The transformation of education begins with teachers.’ The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) presented this theme in respect of their determined and diligent efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.
During this period, a new mode of learning came to the fore. Education changed from conventional teaching to technical, skillful, professional and virtual. Schools, colleges, and universities were closed, but the dedication and courage of teachers became more prominent as online classes took over.
Even with their role in the society, teachers have been poorly paid. The Guardian gathered that teachers are among the least paid workers in the country. President Muhammadu Buhari, two years ago, took up the challenge and announced a new salary scale and better conditions of service. The president also increased retirement age from 60 to 65.
The new Teachers Salary Structure (TSS) is expected to make the least paid teacher in the public service earn about N150, 000 monthly as against the current salary of about N49, 000.
Implementation at the federal level, however, dragged on for more than a year. But at the celebration of teachers’ day last year, the Federal Government again assured that teachers would begin to enjoy the new incentives effective from January 2022.
However, last month, at a media engagement to herald the 2022 World Teachers Day, the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, revealed that basic school teachers at the Federal level are already enjoying improved salary package.
Adamu reminded that since education is on the concurrent list, the Federal Government has no power to compel states to adopt the new salary package, but would encourage them to see the importance of improved remuneration and other welfare packages for them.
Speaking on the theme of the celebration, President, Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Audu Titus Amba, said teachers are expected to play critical roles in transforming and shaping the future of education amid growing societal needs and challenges of the 21st century driven by technology.
He said: “The 2022 event, coming on the heels of the UN-led Transforming Education Summit (TES), seeks to draw public attention to the support teachers need to fully contribute to educational transformation.
“Indeed, the right number of qualified teachers needed should be provided with access to continuing professional development, improved status and working conditions and be empowered, motivated and supported.”
While expressing appreciation to the President for signing into law the harmonised retirement age for teachers in Nigeria bill, which moved the retirement of teachers to 65 years or 40 years of pensionable service, Amba said teachers are looking forward to implementation of the new retirement age and other approvals by the government.
For Lagos State NUT Chairman, Akintoye Hassan, teachers’ commitment and passion, coupled with self-development, will enhance the desirable transformation the sector deserves.
According to him, the transformation can start from within by redirecting teachers to focus on the kind of education they can deliver as experts in the field.
“Education that prepares learners for self-reliance, entrepreneurial skills and employers of labour rather than job seekers,” he said.
Hassan also noted that the government is expected to take the recruitment of quality, committed and passionate applicants as teachers seriously.
He said: “Government should take the issue of regulation of teaching profession in terms of welfare, training and pension of teachers as utmost priority. That will further enhance job security, which in turn enhances the efficiency and effectiveness of teachers.”
On the issue of new salary scale and retirement age, Hassan lamented that it has not been a pleasant story to tell, as states are yet to conclude the process.
“Though there is meaningful progress at the Federal level, Hassan said nothing much has happened at state level. We all know that education is on concurrent list, one or two states that attempted to implement it bastardised the content of the bill,” he said.
The NUT boss advised teachers to remain focused and continue to develop themselves, while not forgetting to remain united, saying better days are ahead.
Head, Quality Assurance, Dansol School, Ogba, Mr S. O. Soetan, said teachers should ensure they are masters of their craft and seek ways to constantly improve themselves.
“They should improve themselves psychologically, physically and educationally. Parents are no longer available, so these days teachers have to step in. Students spend more hours in school.
“Teachers have to be mindful of the impact they make on their students. Teachers should be role models. Teach quality and have a desired student outcome,” he said.
Speaking on how to transform the education system in Nigeria, Soetan observed that a teacher at heart is not attracted to other vocations, but his passion is imparting knowledge.
He said: “We cannot make a change if we have teachers who do not consider teaching as a calling. Teachers should be well renumerated. In other countries, teachers are given certain benefits. A hungry man cannot be at his best.”
On the role of the government in helping teachers to take up challenges, Soetan stated that the government has to commit to funding education. He said they have to provide infrastructure and give teachers an attractive salary scale.
“Teachers need to be trained and re-trained. Our curriculum also needs to be reviewed. Presently, it is not 21st century compliant,” he said.
An Economic teacher with Jextoban Secondary School, Ibafo, Ogun State, Olusola Oluwasina, said education is one of the elementary factors of development and transformation.
He pointed out that no country could achieve sustainable economic transformation without significant human capital.
Oluwasina said: “The role of the teacher is not only limited to classroom teaching but extends to building up human, nation and society at large through maximum utilisation of their potentialities.
He equally advised the government to prioritise funding in the sector to boost development.
The teacher added that inspection and increased supervision are too complementary processes in quality assurance that are related to the monitoring of instructional practices and performance of educational establishment.
The Proprietor, Adams College, Oshodi, Adams Adebola, said to transform students, it is imperative to change the lives of teachers.
“Let there be positive welfare for teachers and let their standard of living improve. Give them necessary training, seminars and encouragement. A teacher teaches well when he is happy. But the one that is hungry and angry would not be able to transform anybody.”
Adebola also called for new ways of teaching to maximise use of technology and innovation. While noting that there is a paradigm shift in teaching methods, he said aside using technology; teachers have to make learning fun and relatable for students.