Teachers facing ‘low status’ challenge
Nigerian teachers recently joined their counterparts in the world to celebrate this year’s World Teachers’ Day.
October 5 of every year is set aside by a declaration of UNESCO for the purpose of addressing the issues connected to teaching as a profession, teachers as professionals and education system as an instrument for social growth and development.
The theme for this year’s event, “Empowering teachers, building sustainable societies,” explains the fact that societies can only grow by empowering teachers and strengthening the teaching profession.
However, teachers in the country continue to face numerous challenges brought about by poor training and welfare, meager wages and low status.
UNESCO in a statement issued on this year’s World Teachers’ Day, says, “Despite global recognition of the importance of teachers in changing children’s lives and building sustainable and prosperous societies, they are all too often undervalued and under-empowered, particularly in the area of Early Childhood Education (ECE).”
Globally, UNESCO says, shortage of quality teachers is on the rise while professional training for teachers is inadequate.
These factors, according to the statement, “result in equity gaps in access and learning which mostly affect the poorest regions and schools and the earliest grades. This is particularly damaging, as there is clear evidence that the earliest years of a child’s development are the most critical.”
The statement added that teachers at basic level of education, in many countries of the world, receive minimum or no training, low pay and benefits with poor career prospects, and have low socio economic status overall.
A professor of Educational Leadership, University of Abuja, Professor Salihu Yusufu Ingawa, said teaching, today, is regarded as a great responsibility than a mere job. He said progress towards professionalism in teaching has been slow because the profession is regarded as a public service to the state.
The highlight of this year’s celebration in Abuja includes demands by the federal government and the teachers, both of which bordered on how to improve the standard of the profession and the sector at large.
The Federal Government had demanded fundamental change in the attitude, orientation and behavior of teachers. This, the government said, is to achieve greater value, ideal and practices if its effort in improving the standard of teaching is to be successful.
The government said a comprehensive ethical framework was therefore required to redefine what the new value, ideal and practices should be.
The teachers, under the aegis of Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), said that Nigeria failed to put education right and that was evident in its failure to meet the MDGs goals on education.
The national president of the union, Comrade Michael Alogba Olukoya, listed poor funding of basic education, meager salaries and its attendant issue of nonpayment as and when due, poor welfare packages, training and retraining, among others as critical issues affecting the profession in the country.