Monday 22 August 2016

Teachers Deserve Much More Than Better Pay

  As we prepare to commence a new school year the question every concerned stakeholder in the Nigerian educational system should be asking is “Do we have enough qualified teachers to man the classrooms and educate the millions of Nigerian children who will be going back to school next month?”

Of course, there are over a million teachers out there in the public sector, not to mention those in the private sector, the Federal government is also set to employ and recruit over 500,000 teachers with the ongoing N-power project which can be accessed here. And then again, colleges of education and universities have also not failed to produce teachers yearly. Very true, but the emphasis here is not on the number but on QUALITY. The lack of qualified Nigerian teachers remains a major setback and dearth of reasonable progress in the educational sector.

The simple reason for this shortage is that the teaching profession and image of teachers in this country have suffered a colossal damage so much that it no longer attracts the brightest and the best. These days very few people willingly and voluntarily apply to study Education and most often, candidates who seemingly are ‘not brilliant’ enough or have not made 5 credits in their WASSCE are the ones who are pushed to go and ‘manage’ Education courses. Our Universities and colleges of Education are constantly enrolling and churning out passionless grandaunts who are paper qualified but incompetent to fit in the role of a modern-day, 21st-century teacher.
More so, most graduates have only taken to the classroom as a last resort and are just passing time on their way to their desired oil and gas jobs. As if that is not enough, so-called teachers have dragged themselves and ultimately, the profession, in the mud by getting involved in unethical practices leaving just a few of us to struggle to erase this blame and shame story and create new narratives around teachers and teaching.

A lot of people have argued that the reason the teaching profession no longer attracts first class graduates from our Universities and Polytechnics is because teachers’ remuneration is one of the least in this country, thus increasing the net pay of teachers will make the profession more lucrative. I dare to say in the words of Ross Dunn that “While money is an important piece of any successful effort to recruit and retain teachers, it is not sufficient.” (Read more here.) Would you rather have more money and be looked down upon?
In addition to the fight for the increase in teacher pay in both private and public sector, we need to fight for the restoration of the lost dignity of the teaching profession. I am an advocate of more money for teachers, I believe teachers ought to be paid the money commensurate with their education, qualification and service even though every teacher knows that the worth of the work we do can never be quantified by the heaviest sound of monthly alerts.

We have a responsibility as leaders, teachers and concerned stakeholders in education to revamp our educational sector. Together we can change the negative publicity around teaching, make a difference in a way that inspires the younger generation to take a genuine interest in the profession and continue when we take a bow. More than ever before we need the nation’s brightest and best, people of quick wit to commit to being at the forefront of our classrooms and prepare our children for the many challenges ahead, the future of our country depends on it.

“No education system can rise above the quality of its teachers” (National Policy on Education of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1998:33)


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