By Chidimma C. Okeke & Itodo Daniel Sule
President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is yet to implement the newly proposed teachers’ salary two years after it was announced in 2020 at an event to mark the World Teachers Day.
Speaking at the 2022 World Teachers Day with the theme: “The Transformation of Education Begins with Teachers”, Buhari said the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission had completed work on the reviewed remuneration package for teachers in basic and secondary schools. He said the package included provisions for rural posting allowance, science teachers’ allowance and peculiar allowance.
“Implementation is awaiting conclusion of consultations with state governments and the National Assembly,” he said.
Represented by the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osibanjo, Buhari said his government was determined to return teachers and the teaching profession to their rightful places by fully implementing the professional teaching and teacher qualification framework standards that would invariably impact on education outcomes and teachers’ performances at the pre-school, basic, secondary and tertiary levels.
He said a new teachers’ policy was already being implemented at the federal level and in some states and urged states that had not done so to do same immediately as “the gains are already showing”.
The World Teachers Day is marked every October 5, to celebrate teachers and draw attention to their welfare and concerns.
“We are also developing a verifiable database of teachers in Nigeria. Already, the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN) has registered 2,108, 342 teachers and licensed 1,250,000 teachers.
“No society can grow beyond its educational attainment. One of the major differences between healthy, well-functioning and prosperous societies and poorer societies is education. We owe so much of our well-being as a nation to our educators at every level,” Buhari said.
He said the theme emphasised the importance of teachers to educational transformation and also introduced the important responsibility that teachers themselves had – to be at the cutting edge of advancements in education, and especially the use of technology and modern teaching methods.
“Education must respond to the dynamism, speed of development and massive changes in society. Educators must understand the skills required to take full advantage of a world dependent on technology. In addition to listening, education today includes writing, ideation, imagining and critical thinking skills. It is no longer merely learning by rote,” he said.
While noting that they have a huge opportunity in their hands to leapfrog development in education through technology, he said to do this they must continue to invest in expanding the capacity as teachers.
“We cannot integrate technology successfully as urgently as we need to without training and equipping teachers,” he said.
The Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, admitted that teachers had come to be less appreciated, their roles relegated and their welfare ignored despite the fact that the teaching profession was a noble one.
“Our teachers, especially at the basic and secondary levels, have been at the receiving end of some of the most unfavourable and sometimes intolerable policies, practices and experiences,” he said.
He further said the federal government had implemented the retirement age of teachers to 65, with a corresponding increase in service years to 40, restored the practice of attracting and retaining the best brains in the teaching profession, among others.
He said to mitigate the current dearth of qualified teachers in the school system, the government had commenced the implementation of a teacher conversion programme with ICT training, starting with those in the Federal Civil Service.
He noted that a number of states had also implemented the scheme.
“We have revamped the curriculum and introduced history and religious knowledge as stand-alone subjects. We are also working with professional associations and religious bodies, including the Nigerian Historical Society, to address the shortage of teachers in specialised subjects,” he said.
On his part, the National President of The Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Comrade Audu Titus Amba, said the education system in Nigeria was in crisis.
He said at the tertiary level students of public universities had been out of school for more than seven months due to a protracted industrial dispute and that the basic and secondary education sub-sectors were faced with serious challenges.
“These include non-implementation of the N30,000 minimum wage for teachers in some states, shortage of teachers, poor infrastructure, lack of instructional materials, insecurity in schools, inadequate funding and poor conditions of service in general,” he said.
He regretted that this deplorable state of education and poor working conditions of teachers adversely affected education service delivery, especially in the public sector.
The NUT, while commending President Buhari for harmonising teachers’ retirement age and other promises made in 2020, called on government at both national and sub-national levels to place high premium on education and accord teachers their pride of place in society.
“In this regards, we must brace up as a nation to invest adequately in education by rising to the serious challenges of budgetary allocations to education in line with the internationally recommended benchmarks of at least four per cent to six per cent of the GDP and/or 15 per cent to 20 per cent of public expenditure,” the NUT Amba said.
He noted that NUT was not unaware of challenges capable of inhibiting service delivery in unity and command schools.
He said some of the challenges included but were not limited to restriction in teachers’ freedom of association to join unions of their choice, non-reinstatement of sacked teachers, non-reinstatement to IPPIS platform the names of teachers who should benefit from elongation of service years who were erroneously removed and non-inclusion of Teachers Special Scale in this year’s budget.
In a separate development, the House of Representatives on Wednesday honoured Nigerian teachers for their contributions to the country’s educational development.
This followed a motion by Dachung Bagos Musa representing Jos South/East Federal Constituency of Plateau State on the need for the house to recognise and honour teachers on the occasion of the World Teachers Day.
Bagos said Nigerian teachers had made and continued to make a lot of sacrifices in impacting knowledge to the people and so deserved to be honoured by the house.
Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, while appreciating teachers for their invaluable contributions in national development over the years; led the house in observing a minute’s silence in honour of all dead teachers and to say “thank you” to all teachers who are alive.
Contributing, Chief Whip of the house, Tahir Monguno, while harping on the important contributions of teachers to society, called on government at all levels to ensure improved remunerations for them.
In his contribution, Benjamin Kalu (APC, Abia) said despite operating under harsh working environment and poor pay packages, teachers had refused to give up because of their selfless passion for impacting knowledge, saying, they deserved to be celebrated.
Rep Aishat Dukku urged Nigerians to imbibe the attitude of celebrating their teachers who had impacted their lives at various levels, adding that people should also contribute to the development of their alma mata and well-being of their teachers.
Also contributing, Taiwo Oluga (Osun, APC), urged the federal government to include teachers in its housing programmes, adding that the reward of teachers should not only be in heaven but also on earth.
Meanwhile, Mrs Adedunke Adefemi from Oke-Edo Senior Secondary School, Alimosho, Lagos, won the “best teacher” award in the public schools category, while Uchenna Ugokwe from Anambra State was named the overall winner in the private schools category.
Also, Mummy’s Place International Nursery and Primary School, Ondo State, was the overall “best private school, while St Michael’s African Church, Ogun State was the overall “best public school”.
The “best administrator” in the public schools category went to Ijeoma Chukwunedum of Abbot Girls Secondary School, Ihiala, Anambra State, while Funmilayo Yakubu-Oyinloye of Queens College, Lagos, was named “best administrator” for unity colleges.
“Best teacher in federal unity colleges” went to Usman Auta of the Federal Government Girls College, Bwari, Abuja, among others.