Evidently, today is World Teachers’ Day, which is also dubbed as International Teachers Day. It is a day established in 1994 and held annually every October 5, commemorating the signing of the 1966 UNESCO/ILO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers, which is a standard-setting instrument that addresses the status and situations of teachers around the world. Wherein, the recommendation outlines standards relating to education personnel policy, recruitment, and initial training as well as the continuing education of teachers, their employment, and working conditions. World Teachers’ Day aims to focus on “appreciating, assessing and improving the educators of the world” and to provide an opportunity to consider issues related to teachers and teaching.
Today, any nation that wants to be recognized as a developed country must build its education sector and human resource firmly. Hence, a country is said to be developed if the majority of her populace is highly educated. Therein, those that impact the needed knowledge or those that build or mold the character should be procured and motivated adequately, knowing that their welfare is the key to performance and improvement. Thus, it is believed that a motivated teacher always complete the tasks set for him or her , even when such task is difficult or seen apathetic. Teachers are the focal force in the learning process that takes place in schools, and teachers are the power tools for developing quality education through effective classroom practices in our schools. Now, you will agree with me that the pay structure is potentially an incentive-tool in the hands of the education policy maker, and merit pay proposals have important recently been discussed in several countries and applied in some. In Nigeria of today, the Academic Staff University Union (ASUU) had been on strike for over six months to draw the attention of government to what it described as ‘criminal negligence’ of not funding public universities in the light of rising insecurity and other mounting social problems.
Pathetically, the Nigerian government is still not concerned with the parlous state of affairs in the country’s tertiary education. The lackadaisical attitude of the Nigerian government is that blatant that there are still some outstanding issues on the implementation of the February 2019 MOA which the federal government signed with ASUU and other conditions of service with the government. It’s sad that the federal government has not been forthcoming but has rather resorted to embarking on propaganda against the union. Even in primary and secondary schools, teachers are poorly remunerated, as a result of this, most of them take up part time employment or private business enterprise in order to make ends means. This greatly reduces their commitment to the teaching. However, lack of motivations for the teachers may influence their dedication to teaching work. It’s sad that one cannot exhaust out the challenges facing the Nigerian teachers. Hence, as welfare can be seen as the availability of recourses and presence of conditions required for reasonable, comfortable, healthy and secure living for teachers which include good working condition, secured environment for academic business, regular promotion, in-services training, regular payment of salary and among other work incentive that aid the teachers performance standard, this articles tends take a look at the welfare challenges faced by the hardworking Nigerian teachers and the way out.
First, it’s no myth that the teacher salaries are too poor and they are poorly remunerated in some cases, teachers’ salaries had been misappropriated, embezzled or used to award contract by the bullying and browbeating leaders. Some of the salaries are not coming and in many States, teachers salary are not paid promptly, that the #30, 000 minimum wage is a problem to be paid by both the private and public proprietors. Yet, other counterparts in some parts of the world are paid handsomely, according to the American National Education Association, depending on the state, high school teachers in US get as much as $48,631 while the best-paid 10 percent in the field made approximately $86,720, while the bottom 10 percent made $37,230. Compensation is typically based on years of experience and educational level. It’s however clear that here in Nigeria, this pathetic situation affect the teachers’ moral, productivity and relegate the teachers’ effectiveness to the lowest level. This salary deficient situation plight of Nigeria’s teachers is pitiful as many of them have died of hunger, diseases and out of frustration. The system has turned a good number of them into beggars and destitute such that the younger generation dreads the idea of becoming teachers in the future.
Furthermore, without any facts, it’s obvious that many Nigerian schools are established without instructional facilities like laboratory facilities, textbooks, writing materials, furniture, e.t.c The teachers are working under poor school environment, you need to take a glance at the Nigerian public schools (the University and secondary schools) the school environment are not conducive for effective teaching learning process. Many classrooms exist without furniture, window and Doors, many are dilapidated buildings. The situation cannot guarantee the quality education and produce quality product. The situation makes the profession to be disrespected among other professions.
Another problem is the unexcelled problem of non-Implementation of policies. There have been occasions in Nigeria, when the government reneges on agreements with teachers and schools are closed for months, obviously we are still in the popular mess of ASUU and the Federal government. In this footing, this has caused untold hardship for the teachers and more importantly the students. According to Tola Olajuwon’s study of this situation, a researcher from University of Johannesburg, the aftermath of High’s response was that teachers were unable to sustain the strike as the strike could not achieve its purpose and it disrupted the school academic calendar. It reveals how teachers are being regarded in the society. Teachers believed that they cannot make the government accountable for its promises. Distinguishing between politics and education will mean so much for the school system.
Again, there’s promotion. According to the Educational And Curriculum, Faculty Of Education, Ahmadu Bello University, promotion is an upward mobility of an employee which changes his present position to one that makes him assume greater responsibility. Apart from bringing him more money, promotion has a higher motivating effect and it serves as a mark of recognition of individual performance. Hence, It’s so pathetic in Nigeria that administering promotion to Nigerian workers has become a big deal. Thus, teachers are denied of growth in regards for achievement or recognition of competence. Sad enough, despite the fact that it is stated in article 77 section 9 of National policy of Education (2004) that promotion opportunities will be created at every educational level to allow for professional growth at each level, teachers’ promotion has not been implemented accordingly. Rather than based on merit, promotion is based on favourtism, nepotism and used political weapons. Yet, Nigerian teachers are denied of this right.
One can go and on to talk about these unapologetic challenges, there’s the problem of the benefits denied to Nigeria teachers, benefits which are supposed to be given as compensation to employees in addition to wages or salaries or compensation beyond a regular salary or wage with monetary value such as pension, health insurance coverage and all. Nigerian teachers are evidently cheated. We can also talk of challenges of training to equip teachers performances. The types of training that can be readily available for an educational organization will ought to include, in-service course for teachers, on-the-job training, Refresher-Training, vestibule training, conference training, off-the-job Training, Staff seminar, workshops and all, Still Nigerian teachers are hardly taken care of.
Now, according to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, former President of Turkey says, a good teacher is like a candle, it consumes itself to light the way for others. There is no contention about the positive contributions of teachers to human capital development globally. Teachers turnout engineers, filmmakers, writers, astronauts, architects, lawyers, doctors, entrepreneurs and among others. It means without teachers, the world would not have great leaders and heroes who make our planet a better place for all. It’s important that the Nigerian Government need to see the welfaric problems of Nigerian teachers. Hence, there’s a call on Government for improvement in the level of the infrastructural facilities in schools. This, however, depends to a large extent, on the level of funding made available to the system. Like many stakeholders has advocated for modern educational gadgets like modern instructional materials and packages to be consciously introduced into the teacher education programme.
Government also need to realize that welfare package does not mean increase in salary alone, it entails regular payment of salary and improved conditions of service. Hence as suggested by Isaac Akindutire and Haastrup Ekundayo of Ekiti State University, the following hints should be used on how to improve conditions of service, that teachers with relevant additional qualification should be appropriately upgraded; teacher can transfer from one state to another without loss of status; capacity building for teachers at no cost; special incentives for teachers in difficult terrains; and regular payment of allowances and leave bonuses. All these would enhance increase in productivity of teachers. Finally, if the Nigerian community will develop, her teachers must be protected. It’s the World teachers’ day, let the teachers get the benefits of teaching.