Teach­ers fac­ing ‘low sta­tus’ chal­lenge

Daily Trust - - EDUCATION - By Chidimma C. Okeke & Ab­dul­la­teef Salau

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.

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