Teachers’ Day Tells A Story
CAN we imagine our world without teachers? October 5, World Teachers’ Day passed quietly. Nigerians consider teachers important. Sadly, the importance is only in words.
Education is a major factor in human development. Countries that invest well in education are at the top bracket of the human development index. The cross-cutting benefits of education produce bountifully harvests that re-generate their societies’ capacities to handle the changing challenges of modern living.
Our low position in the human development index is a partial picture of the depth of the decay in various spheres of our society. In education, for example, budgets are lost in the morass of bureaucracy. Investments to improve the teaching environment or the education of our teachers are low. While many of us admit that teaching is a thankless job, we have added to the burden of those who over the years made this humanitarian gesture to our society.
Teachers are poorly paid and live in ruinous poverty after retirement. They form a huge part of the pension queues, society’s final signature on those it has rejected. Very little in the life of the Nigerian teacher recommends the profession to others.
Nigeria is running on the last string of its teachers, those dedicated men and women whose diligence changed our lives.
Many of those who teach are not trained, and society is not bothered about unqualified teachers promoting literacy. Fake teachers, in their thousands, are on governments’ pay rolls.
As the profession becomes less attractive because of its appalling conditions of service, younger people shun it. Most of today’s young teachers use the profession as a stopgap to their aspirations.
How will this society survive without teachers?
Government’s unwillingness to consider the sector a priority has resulted in inadequate attention for facilities and the curriculum. The sustenance of education this far has been on the dedication of teachers, who still relish seeing their efforts making young men and women better peoples.
No serious country can sustain itself on such lean passions, which would die with the generation that espouses it. Already, plunging examination results are being blamed on growing illiteracy among teachers and poor teaching standards.
Governments should institute major initiatives on education to reduce its bureaucracies, and save funds for the training and welfare of teachers, and improved facilities in schools.
Special attention needs to be paid to attracting younger people to teaching. At all levels, they are unwilling to subject themselves to a life of penury, which is what society has prescribed for teachers.
Enduring improvements of society are no longer feasible with the minimal investments we make in the welfare of teachers and provision of teaching aids.