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Why Teachers Deserve Recognition, Value and Status

Posted: Oct 9, 2016 at 3:30 am   /   by   /   comments (3)

Teaching is the specialised application of knowledge, skills and attributes designed to provide unique service to meet the educational needs of the individual and of society. October 5th every year is st aside as ‘World Teachers’ Day’. However, teachers in Nigeria believe that they are not getting a fair deal from the government and the society at large. In this special report, Emmanuel Okwuke, Oyeniran Apata, Nkasiobi Oluikpe and Andrew Utulu takes a critical look at these issues and other sundry matters. Excerpts:

Teaching is a process that facilitates learning and impartation of knowledge from supposedly well informed, trained and skilled personnel to a set of people with the intent to add to what the individual already know.
Teaching is the specialised application of knowledge, skills and attributes designed to provide unique service to meet the educational needs of the individual and of society. The choice of learning activities whereby the goals of education are realised in the school is the responsibility of the teaching profession.

World Teachers Day As Global Recognition
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) believes that education, culture and communication are the means to building peace.
The idea to set a day aside for the celebration of teachers world over crystalised in 1994 when the UNESCO inaugurated World Teachers’ Day to focus attention on the contributions and achievements of teachers, and to highlight teachers’ concerns and priorities regarding education.
Thus ‘October 5’ every year was consequently set aside as the date to internationally celebrate teachers because on that date in recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers. For the first time, this recommendation gave teachers throughout the world an instrument that defines their responsibilities and asserts their rights. In adopting this recommendation, governments unanimously recognised the importance for society to have competent, qualified and motivated teachers.
According to doclecture.net, the role of teacher is often formal and ongoing, carried out at a school or other place of formal education.
In many countries including Nigeria, a person who wishes to become a teacher must first obtain specified professional qualifications or credentials from a university or college of education.
Mandatorily, these professional qualifications may include the study of pedagogy, the science of teaching. Teachers, like other professionals, may have to continue their education after they qualify, a process known as continuing professional development. Teachers may use a lesson plan to facilitate student learning, providing a course of study which is called the curriculum.
A teacher’s role may vary among cultures. Teachers may provide instruction in literacy and numeracy, craftsmanship or vocational training, the arts, religion, civics, community roles, or life skills.
A teacher who facilitates education for an individual may also be described as a personal tutor, or, largely historically, a governess.
On a larger scale teaching could also be a religious and spiritual teacher, such as gurus, mullahs, rabbis, pastors/youth pastors and lamas, may teach religious texts such as the Quran, Torah or Bible.

Teachers As Professionals
The certificated teacher is the essential element in the delivery of instruction to students, regardless of the mode of instruction. A teacher has professional knowledge and skills gained through formal preparation and experience.
The theme of the 2016 World Teachers Day, “Valuing Teachers, Improving Their Status” coincidentally marked the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the 1966 ILO/UNESCO recommendation concerning the status of teachers.
Wikipedia in the definition who a teacher stated that teachers as professionals are charged with the function to pressure the lazy, inspire the bored, deflate the overconfident, encourage the timid, detect and correct individual flaws, and broaden the viewpoint of all. This function looks like that of a coach using the whole gamut of psychology to get each new class of rookies off the bench and into the game.

1966 ILO/UNESCO Recommendation On Teachers’ Status
The 1966 ILO/UNESCO recommendation concerning the status of teachers made clarifications on professionalism, remuneration, cooperation on policies, professional freedom, responsibilities and teachers shortage among other relevant issues.
The 1966 Recommendation looks at:
Professionalism: “Teaching should be regarded as a profession: it is a  form  of  public  service  which  requires  teachers  expert  knowledge  and  specialized skills, acquired and maintained through rigorous and continuing study; it also calls for a sense of personal and corporate responsibility for the education and welfare of the pupils in their charge.”
Co-operation in policy issues: “There should be close co-operation between the competent   authorities, organisations of teachers, of employers and workers, and of parents as well as cultural organizations and institutions of learning and research, for the purpose of defining educational policy and its precise objectives.”
Teacher-training: “The  staff  of  teacher-preparation  institutions  should  be  qualified  to  teach  in  their  own  discipline  at  a  level  equivalent  to  that  of  higher  education.  The staff teaching pedagogical subjects should have had experience of teaching in schools and wherever possible should have this experience periodically refreshed by secondment to teaching duties in schools.”
Professional freedom: “The teaching profession  should  enjoy  academic  freedom in the discharge of professional duties.  Since teachers are particularly qualified  to  judge  the  teaching  aids  and  methods  most  suitable  for  their  pupils, they should be given the essential role in the choice and adaptation of  teaching  material,  the  selection  of  textbooks,  and  the  application  of  teaching methods, within the framework of approved programmes, and with the assistance of the educational authorities.”
Responsibilities: “Professional standards relating to the teacher performance should  be  defined  and  maintained  with  the  participation  of  teachers’  organizations Codes  of  ethics  should  be  established  by  teachers’  organisations, since such codes greatly contribute to ensuring the prestige of the profession and the exercise of professional duties in accordance with agreed principles.”
Rights:“Both  salaries  and  working  conditions  for  teachers  should  be  determined through a process of negotiation between teachers’ organizations and the employers of teachers.”
Hours of work: “In fixing hours of teaching, account should be taken of all factors which are relevant to the teacher’s work load, such as: (a) the number of pupils with whom the teacher is required to work per day and per week (b) the desirability of providing time in which the teacher may report to and consult with parents regarding pupil progress.”
Salaries: Teachers’ salaries should: (a) reflect the importance to society of the teaching function and hence the importance of teachers as well as the responsibilities of all kinds which fall upon them from the time of their entry into service (d) take account of the fact that certain posts require higher qualifications and experience and carry greater responsibilities.” and,
Teacher shortages: “It should be a guiding principle that any severe supply problem [viz., teacher shortage] should be dealt with by measures which are recognized as exceptional, which do not detract from or endanger in any way  professional  standards  already  established  or  to  be  established  and  which minimize educational loss to pupils.”

A Gale of Salary Backlog In Nigeria
The plight of teachers and conditions of service of teachers both in public and private sector in Nigeria fall short of the 1996 ILO/UNESCO recommendations above.
The ILO/UNESCO recommendation stated that teachers’ salaries should reflect the importance the society attaches to the teaching function and hence the importance of teachers as well as the responsibilities of all kinds which fall upon them from the time of their entry into service.

Teachers Not Having A Fair Deal In Nigeria
Some teachers have expressed themselves on what it feels like being teachers. Even though the economic reward that is supposed to come with that fulfilment, as stated by some of them is not there, however, the inner joy received by virtue of their capacity to impart and mould lives is enough.

Mrs. Edema, a teacher of 22 years experience with Reagan Girls Secondary School, cannot help but thank God for her professional calling.
She said that in the teaching profession, they don’t deal with files, but build lives.
“I am usually happy when I see some of the students I taught in high places in the society. I feel happy, knowing that what I imparted into their lives is yielding the needed fruits, both formally and informally. So, I give all the glory to God. But unfortunately, the society views teachers as people that are poor. I thank God that nowadays, teachers are doing well.
“And if you look around you will discover that the children of teachers do well in the society. You will hardly see any teacher whose children turn out as vagabonds”.

Asked if it could still be said that teachers rewards are in heaven as was the common cliché in those days, she said: “That was in the olden days that teachers reward are said to be in heaven. These days they are being rewarded here on earth. You know we all patronise the same market. If you want to pay your children’s school fees or your landlord, you won’t tell them that you are a teacher”.

Defending her point further, Edema said that both teachers and members of other professional bodies patronise the same market and are exposed and subjected to the same prices for goods and services. That is why you still have parents who appreciate teachers, even though the rate is not comparable to that of those in the oil and gas section, but the blessing of God, she said, falls on the little they get.

For Mrs. Jane Ikegulu, a teacher with Top Grade Secondary School, Surulere, she says, for her, she is very happy being a teacher, but can’t say same for her fellow colleagues, as the financial welfare of teachers is not the best.
Ikegulu remarked that generally in the society, teachers are looked down upon. She added that even when the children themselves come out to talk about their future ambitions, you will hardly hear them mention they would like to be teachers.
“You will hear them say, I would like to be a lawyer, a pilot, an engineer, a doctor, and some will even say they will like to be successful farmers. But you will not hear a single one of them saying, he or she will like to be a teacher.
“Even when they nurse the dreams at kindergarten stages, their parents will discourage them from allowing that to happen, because everybody says the teachers’ salaries are peanuts. They are poorly paid”.

But that is not enough to discourage anyone, she says, as despite the aforementioned she still enjoys her job because she loves inculcating knowledge into students.
She noted that it is a thing of pleasure to see them coming in so little and naïve into JSS1 and then suddenly, you watch them grow and leave at SS3 to enter the universities.

“I always shed tears of joy each time they graduate. That is the only thing that has kept me in there, if not, I would have gone since. You know those are the issues. You are transforming lives, teaching them from the unknown to the known. That which they never knew, they now get to know it, it is a thing of joy.

“Not a lot of money can give you that joy you receive from seeing and caring for those lovely children. I don’t even see them as my students, but as my own children. So, when you remember that you are not being paid as much as the bankers and the rest, you are just happy and at peace.”
Added to this, she remarked, is discovering that your own children will always be bright and also gain scholarship like those other children you have been preparing for scholarship. ‘It is a divine thing’.
“That is what keeps me going. That is why most of my courses are very dramatic. I teach English and Literature. Some of my students do ask me if I ever thought of being a theatre artist and I say no. I love my job; as a result I put drama and life into it”.

Corroborating the two speakers above is Mrs. Oluwakemi Agwameseh, an Agric Science teacher with Tindip College, Ikorodu, who see teachers as adding value to the society and moulding the future of the people.
Though admitting that it is energy sapping, notwithstanding, she said, the fulfilment derived therein is enough. She said it is the ‘be and all’ of every profession.
“You as a journalist, it is the teacher that put you there, right from the crèche, primary, secondary school and university level. But the only gray area here is that we are not being recognised by the larger society”.

While acknowledging the contributions of teachers to the society, a parent and businessman, Mr. Chikamnario Egbunike, said that the degree of knowledge imparted to the children in schools these days have been watered down compared to what was obtainable those days.
He said that the economic situation has made them not show the needed commitment. And that he feels sad when people compare their remuneration with those of bankers and oil company workers. “Must everybody work and be paid like bankers,” he asked.
“Their jobs are like those of missionaries and nurses. It takes a lot of sacrifice. These days, you will discover that people go into teaching, not because they love to teach but as a last resort to earning a livelihood.
“If they can show a reasonable amount of commitment, I think things will improve for them and the larger society will be better off for it.”

27 States Unable To Pay Salaries’
The Kwara State Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Teachers, Mr. Musa Abubakar, declared on Wednesday as the country joins the rest of the world to mark WTD that 27 states in Nigeria have been unable to pay teachers’ salaries, saying that workers and teachers, in particular, were the worst hit of the current economic recession.
Apparently not pleased at the attitude and disregard for teachers by governments at the states, Comrade Abubakar lamented that officials reneged on promises at will without regard for the teachers.
According to him, “Primary school teachers in Kwara State have enjoyed uninterrupted payment of salaries before May 2015. However, since then, primary school teachers are being owed months of unpaid salaries. As I speak, teachers are being owed five-month salary”.
He charged the Federal Government to assume responsibility of funding primary education, saying that the finance of the LGs are over-stressed and cannot cope with such responsibilities.”
The State Governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed in apparent response to the position of the union stated that revenues from states and local governments had been reducing, noting that the challenges being faced by teachers are not individual but national.
Painting a sorry tale of teachers status in the state he stated, “As I speak, teachers in Kwara are owed five months salary and 56 per cent (i.e 15 per cent January, 25 per cent June, 8 per cent August and 8 per cent September) and this is no doubt?, has affected the quality of education in our public schools as the working condition of the teacher is the learning condition of the child”.
Apart from backlog of unpaid salaries and allowances, several state governments have also dipped hands into cooperative savings of teachers in addition to unremitted pension contributions and persecution and outright death as it is the case in the crisis ridden north-east region of the country.
Mark Lipdo, Executive Director of the Stefanus Foundation said over 611 teachers died as a result of terrorism in the north east; 19,000 teachers displaced, 1,500 schools closed down, and 950,000 children are denied the opportunity of accessing education.

ASUSS Calls For Special Recognition For Teachers
In his address at the WTD celebration which held at the Ikorodu Town Hall, Lagos State, Comrade Kazeem Labaika, President, Academic Staff  Union Of Secondary Schools Of Nigeria (ASUSS), Lagos State Chapter stated that improving pay and conditions will not be enough to restae teachers status called for valued cultural recognition.
“Every year, the United Kingdom celebrates International Nurses Day, with a special service in Westminster Abbey. President Ronald Reagan introduced National Nurses’ Day in the United States, which is an opportunity for the media to highlight the achievements of nurses.
“Back at home, General Yakub Gowon raised the status of nurses in the 70s by giving them special salary cum allowances. Teachers should be honoured in similar ways.
He charged his colleagues in the state and beyond to think harder, push further and dream bigger adding,  ‘if we have to change the orientation of the society about this profession called teaching.”
“I Want to say that if teachers were paid well their status would be enhanced; the best hands will definitely come into the system and the caner worm called moral decadence in the society will have no place among our youths.

Value For Teacher Is A Value For Education – BESUN

In an interview with Independent, Comrade Esther Kalejaye, President Basic Education Staff Union Of Nigeria (BESUN) stated that a value accorded teachers will have far reaching effect on the pattern of education in the country.
“Value is the degree of importance we give to something. In my opinion the reason why our government and the society at large do not value teachers and willing to improve their status is because they do not value education.
“Any nation or society that is not willing and ready to value the teaching profession and do all to improve its status is ultimately not ready for true and quality education and invariably not ready for growth,” she added.

A’Ibom Government, NUT Trade Words Over Leave Grants, Promotion Arrears

If emerging indicators from the states are anything to go then teachers in the country may have to tarry a while as teachers groan over three year outstanding leave grant, five years promotion arrears and the 2012 promotions right to retiring teachers.
Just as the state government claimed it had been teachers’ salary regularly, the state chapter of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) in contrast stated that the state is still indebted to its members.
It could be recalled that the chairperson of NUT, Comrade Etim Ukpong sometime ago had reminded the state government that the basic salary of a teacher and in fact workers would amount to nothing if certain entitlements which presents the only opportunity for teachers to embark on projects such as building and other major things were left unpaid.
Addressing the 2016 teachers day therefore, Ukpong appealed to the state government to assist to defray the outstanding leave grant of 2013, 2015 and 2016, and promotion arrears of 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015.
Making case for teachers who were omitted and wrongly branded as ghosts by the state government, the Chairman called on the state government to direct payment of December 2015, January and February 2016, as such ones, according to him, have been cleared as “non ghost” after due verification.
He appealed to the governor to see to the refund of ?7  1/2 % contributory pensions money so the scheme can commence again as well as assist school heads run schools by paying subvention from the outstanding arrears”
“Assist in the training of teachers in ICT and provision of laptops and desk top computers to teachers and the schools to boost compliance with 21st century teaching and learning processes in our schools and effectively equip our candidates for public examinations in line with global best practices”.
Referring to the theme of this year’s celebration “Valuing ?Teachers, Improving Their Status” he noted that teachers were the central human elements in the entire process of developing the younger generations
“If a teacher is happy, the results are good, if he is not happy, the results are bad. Society may applaud him, or society may push the blame ?(as most often the Nigerian, nay Akwa Ibom Society does) on him. Either way, society is responsible for the happiness or the sadness of the teacher. Society must now cease to pass the buck, and start to do the needful”. He said
In a keynote address at the WTD celebration, a Don, Dr. Antiabong Ekong cautioned the federal government against cutting teachers lean salaries, rather he suggested a review of the huge monthly salaries of federal legislators.
Ekong who noted that no education system can rise above the quality of its teachers, said the Nigerian teacher therefore is the hub upon which the realization of the role of education as a reliable instrument for national development revolves.
Foremost Institution Loose International Recognition
At the specialised education sector of the education industry one institution that had suffered greatly is the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) in Oron, in  Akwa Ibom State due to consistent neglect and shortage of personnel.
Chief Osita Chukwudinma, the Coordinator, Save Nigeria Freight Forwarders Association and the General Secretary, International Freight Forwarders Association (IFFA), felt that the Nigerian teachers and the education sector lagged behind in so many areas.
Making reference to the  Maritime Academy  of Nigeria, (MAN), Oron, the freight forwarder chieftain said that the maritime academy had been neglected and sidelined for so long, thus dwindling  the benefits accruable from the institution as against such institutions in other parts of the world.
He lamented that close to one year, after the death of the Rector of the institution, the Federal Government had not deemed it fit to appoint a substantive rector; rather, the school had been left in the hands of acting Rectors.
Chief Chukwudinma lamented sufferings of teachers saying that those who excelled in their various fields of endeavour at one time or the other passed through the teachers.
“ I am not surprise that so many people shy away from teaching profession even after reading the courses at higher institutions learning.  People have been clamouring for a better remuneration, pay package, allowances for teachers. Without teachers, there will be no politicians, no doctors, no lawyers, name it. They must go through teachers. They deserve better remuneration, give them car loans, give them housing loans,” he advised.
Piqued at the phobia for Nigerian youths and graduate teachers’ refusal to take up teaching appointments, Ismail Aniemu, a front line maritime analyst and consultant, said “it is very unfortunate that teaching profession that is central to the growth of the society, aside educating the young ones, it also build them morally, to a large extent also impact on students spiritually have been relegated to the background.”
He said that he had done some independent survey and discovered that out of 60 persons he spoke to who read education related courses, only two wanted to be teachers.
“Most of them have Bachelors in Education, some have National Certificate in Education, but  they tell you they want to work elsewhere, they don’t want to teach, whereas they are trained as teachers, they are certified to impact knowledge as teachers”.

Aniemu said that people that impact knowledge as teachers have invested so much to acquire knowledge. “Go into the schools, you see teachers with Masters Degrees, some are pursuing their doctorate degrees and they have nothing materially to show for the so much knowledge they have acquired over the years”.
So, government must have to reverse this trend. And they must reverse it very fast, if not, Nigeria will suffer lack of quality teachers” Aniemu said,  adding that  “you see people who are supposed to be engineers veering into teaching profession because they did not have job in their chosen field. You see Architects teaching because they don’t get job, while those who are trained teachers are running away, looking for something else to do, they said they don’t want to go into poverty stricken profession, that is the background about teaching,”  Aniemu said.

“In fact, that is the only International Maritime Institution and recognised training centre in Nigeria. If we harness that institution properly, Nigeria will be a central point for maritime training in West and Central Africa”, he said, adding that unfortunately, countries like Egypt, “where we have the Arab Maritime Academy, and South Africa are leading us in maritime training. Very unfortunately also, Ghana here, is now opening a maritime university, trying to compete with us, taking everything away from Nigeria in terms of maritime training,  while we  are  still crawling, we are yet to have a university status in maritime training, we are yet to have a degree awarding status in maritime training and it is unfortunate.”, he lamented.
Aniemu further lamented that MAN was not only suffering from the dearth of quality manpower, but also suffering from infrastructural decay.
Also, Lucky Eyis Amiwero, President, National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLC) , said teachers were the pillars of growth of any nation. He said that when you have good teachers, knowledge would be imparted into the system.
He said that great countries we have today in the world, got there through quality knowledge. He added that countries like America do not have so many resources, but have knowledge to harness such resources.
Lessons From Finland
As teachers in Nigeria and the rest of Sub Sahara Africa struggle for recognition, value and higher status amidst poor funding, the reverse is the case in other climes where education is well funded and properly managed.
In Finland general practitioners earn, on average, about $70,000 per year, which is less than half of what doctors earn in the United States. The average salary for primary education teachers with 15 years experience in Finland is about $37,500, compared to $45,225 in the United States.
Teachers in Finland have a very high status and a great deal of respect from society. Teachers have been consistently rated (in opinion polls featured in the media) as the profession most admired by Finnish young people, ahead of doctors, architects and lawyers.
In fact, a national survey of around 1,300 adult Finns, where interviewees were asked to select five professions from a list of thirty that they would prefer a partner or spouse to have, found that males viewed a teacher as the most desirable partner, and women viewed teachers as the third most desirable.
Reflecting this apparent view that teachers should be held to a high academic standard, the entrance requirements for teacher training programmes are high: applicants must have high grades, pass a national entrance exam and have a personal interview before being accepted.
Finnish teachers are so highly regarded because they have earned the trust of parents and society by their “demonstrated capacity to use professional discretion and judgement” to help all students become successful learners.
These findings indicate that Finnish teachers generally take a proactive and caring attitude to educating children, that they see children as individuals who learn in different ways, consider it their duty to make sure every child learns and progresses, and are willing to experiment and think creatively when looking for new and better teaching strategies.
This attitude could explain why teachers are given such respect in Finland: parents and society feel they can trust teachers to care about all of their students, and to ensure that every child receives a high-quality education.

Recognition, Value, Status Earned

Thus, it means that recognition, value and status must be earned by the teachers while government at all levels must display enough political will to move the sector forward.

Comments (3)

  • Mathew Godswill John Oct 9, 2016 at 8:25 am Mathew Godswill John

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  • Mathew Godswill John Oct 9, 2016 at 8:23 am Mathew Godswill John

    n .C.S. NIGERIA CUSTOM SERVICE FORM IS OUT. WE ARE RECRUITING NEW OFFICERS INTO THE ORGANISATION. CALL AND OBTAIN ONE BEFORE IT WILL BE LATE. QUALIFICATIONS ARE BSC, NCE, BA, HND, ND, DIPLOMA, SSCE, ETC. CONTACT CUSTOM REGISTRATION OFFICER ADEFEMI MATHEW GODSTIME ON 07067799408 . E.G. Golf 2,3,4, 5, from =N250,00 N400, 000-N550,000 Toyota Camry big daddy=N450,000. Toyota Prado=N600,000. Toyota hiaceBus=N850,000. Toyota Avalon=N550,000. ToyotaCorolla=N450,000. HondaAccord end. of discussion =N450,000. Honda Evil Spirit=N400,000. ToyotaCamry2.2(Tiny Light)=N350,000, Toyota Avensis=N500,000, Rav4=N550, 000, Toyota Seinna=N600,000, Highlander=N650,000,Murano=N600,000, Pathfinder=N550,000, Infinity Jeepfx35=N500,000. & fx45=550,000 Mercedes Benz ML350=N500,000. . THE AUCTION OFFICE SALES SHALL TAKE PLACE AT THE CUSTOM SEME BOARDER LAGOS STATE. All VEHICLES ENGINES ARE IN GOOD CONDITION. (THANKS FOR PATRONIZING WITH US)

  • Tertsea Ajoko Oct 9, 2016 at 4:12 am Tertsea Ajoko

    What is Ibori’s picture doing here? Is he a teacher? Come on, Nigerian media, you can do better than this.

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