Nigerian teachers yesterday joined their counterparts worldwide to mark this year’s World Teachers’ Day, lamenting their plight at the three tiers of government.
They specifically decried the failure of national and sub-national governments to fulfil their promises to teachers in the country.
Through the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), the national president, Comrade Audu Titus Amba, appealed to President Bola Tinubu to do something differently, activating the teacher policy reforms of the past administration and implementing the teachers’ incentives approved in 2020.
On the occasion of 2020 World Teachers Day, the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari announced the approval of far-reaching welfare packages for tutors, which include the Special Salary Scale for Teachers in Basic and Secondary Schools and the reintroduction of bursary awards to education students in universities and colleges of education.
Others were free tuition and automatic admission for biological children of tutors; a special Teachers Pension Scheme to enable the teaching profession to retain its experienced talents as well as extend teachers’ retirement age; the development of a Career Path Policy for the Teaching Profession in Nigeria; the building of low-cost houses for teachers in rural areas; and the provision of loan facilities for agriculture, housing, cars, motorcycles, and others to support tutors’ earnings, among others.
The union observed with dismay that three years later, the approved incentives for tutors were largely unaddressed. They, therefore, called Tinubu to activate the teacher policy reforms of the past administration by ensuring the full implementation of the teacher incentives approved in 2020.
Amba spoke at a special event organized to celebrate the tutors in Abuja.
He urged the federal government, through the National Salaries, Incomes, and Wages Commission (NSIWC), to issue a circular for wage increases to reflect in the pensions of retired teachers and other workers.
On the issue of insecurity, he condemned the spate of insecurity afflicting the nation’s schools, calling on the federal and state governments to provide adequate security in schools and school communities and to encourage free and unhindered access to education as an inalienable right of our children and youths.
He said, “The challenge of attracting and retaining young dedicated persons in the teaching profession will remain unabated if the living and working conditions of teachers are not given due attention and addressed in the interest of tutors effectiveness and greater service delivery.
“We also call on state governments that have not implemented the Harmonized Retirement Age/Service Years for tutors to do so without further delay, as this will engender greater service delivery and productivity in the education system.
“Public recognition and regard for teachers It is a truism that the work environment and societal experiences of teachers in Nigeria cannot be said to be satisfactory. Tutors not only work under deplorable conditions but often suffer public disdain, disregard, and deny their due status and rightful place in society.
“This ugly situation negatively affects the attraction and retention of new professionals in the teaching service. It is imperative, therefore, that the government take appropriate steps to develop policies and adopt measures that would accord teachers their due regard and respect. Essentially, it should be recognized that the proper status of teachers and due public regard for the profession of teaching are of major importance for the full realization of educational aims and objectives (ILO/UNESCO 2008).
“Payment of Teachers Gratuities and Pensions The NUT hereby requests that the Federal Government of Nigeria call on state and local governments to live up to their responsibilities and obligations in the payment of pensions and gratuities to retired tutors.
“It is regrettable that there are some retired tutors whose monthly pension is lower than the National Minimum Wage. Therefore, we urge the Federal Government, through the National Salaries, Incomes, and Wages Commission (NSIWC), to issue a circular for wage increases to reflect in the pensions of retired teachers and other workers.
In Jigawa State, the NUT called for the improvement of teachers’ welfare and an enabling working environment as it raised alarm over the shortage of tutors in the state, which amounts to over 32,000.
The NUT state chairman, Comrade Abdulkadir Yunusa, made the call while speaking during the celebration of 2023 World Teachers Day held at Aminu Kano Triangle, Dutse capital.
He said tutors are currently passing through the most difficult time as a result of fuel subsidy removal, which has made the economic situation in the country very intense. The price of all commodities and food items increased by over 50 percent while the salary remained stagnant.
Also, the chairman of the Cross River State chapter of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Comrade Gregory Olayi, has appealed to Governor Bassey Edet Otu to engage 10,000 tutors to boost the state’s primary and secondary educational sectors.
Olayi made the request at the 2023 World Teachers’ Day celebration held at the NUT Secretariat in Calabar yesterday.
Speaking on the theme “The tutors we need for the education we want: The global imperative to reverse teachers’ shortage”, Olayi said, “About 10,000 teachers are needed in the secondary schools and more in the primary schools.
Meanwhile, President Tinubu has declared the determination of his administration to ensure tutors get their due reward.
The president addressed the gathering of teachers across the country to celebrate World Teachers’ Day with the theme, “The teachers we need for the education we want: The global imperative to reverse the teacher shortage.”
Tinubu, who was represented by Vice President Kashim Shettima at an event in Abuja, said Nigeria’s future can only be safeguarded by investing in education, empowering tutors, and providing every child with the tools to reach their dream destination.
He, therefore, directed the Ministers of Education to collaborate with the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation to comprehensively revise existing guidelines “to ensure that anyone seeking to benefit from this Act must be fully prepared to return to the classroom, equipped with the latest teaching techniques and skills, especially in the realm of information technology.”
“I am pleased to share with you a significant policy initiative, the Harmonized Retirement Age of tutors in Nigeria Act 2022, which allows our dedicated tutors to continue their invaluable service for up to forty years or until reaching the age of sixty-five, whichever comes first. This measure is designed to retain the wealth of experience within our educational system and bolster the number of educators in our schools.
“I encourage each of you to consider taking advantage of this policy, but please bear in mind that eligibility is not automatic. To benefit from this Act, you must possess contemporary teaching skills, including proficiency in information technology, as we strive to equip our students for both the challenges of today and the opportunities of tomorrow,” he said.
Chronicle NG reports that the 2023 edition of World Teachers’ Day, which was inaugurated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) on October 5, 1994, is to recognize and honour tutors for their invaluable roles in the development of humanity and society.
The president restated the administration’s commitment to actualizing education reforms to drive the emergence and sustenance of a system that recognizes that education is the mother of new ideas and groundbreaking discoveries.
At the ceremony, the federal government gave out different prizes to tutors, school administrators, and schools at the basic and secondary levels who excelled in their respective fields.
Earlier, the minister of education, Prof. Tahir Mamman, said the day offers an opportunity for society to celebrate its true heroes, describing teachers as the champions of Nigeria’s transformation.
He said celebrating and rewarding excellence in the teaching profession was the government’s way of encouraging and attracting qualified people to the sector.
In Kwara State, Governor Abdul Rahman AbdulRazaq congratulated tutors in the state on the annual commemoration of World Teachers’ Day.
The governor, in a statement signed by his chief press secretary, Rafiu Ajakaye, commended the teachers for their hard work and renewed commitment to the task of raising leaders and serving as beacons of light since the beginning of time.
The governor also restated his commitment to the welfare of teachers and all workers alike, urging them to remain the solid foundation stone from which the edifice of every successful person sprouted and the fountain from which people draw knowledge.
The Kaduna State government said over 25,000 teachers were trained on digital literacy, teaching at the right level (TaRL) methodology, and other areas to improve their teaching skills.
The governor’s chief press secretary, Muhammad Lawal Shehu, made a statement yesterday to mark 2023 World Teachers Day.
Sani said his administration would continue to support and build the capacity of tutors while improving their welfare to attract the younger generation to the noble profession.
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