By Dr Sally Adukwu-Bolujoko, National President, National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools
We have yet another opportunity to celebrate and appreciate the invaluable and worthy contributions of the world’s most patriotic professionals – teachers. As the foundation and forerunner to all other professions, teaching profession should not only be appreciated but also preserved. That is why the 2019 theme “Young Teachers: The Future of The Profession” reaffirms the value of the teaching mission and demands urgent consideration for the preservation of the future of the profession and an educated humanity at large.
The Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) on Education recognises teachers as key to the achievement of the Education 2030 agenda. As we consider the progress made by Nigeria towards that agenda, there should be a sincere examination of the challenges and limitations of the average Nigerian teacher and summon the will required to address them. This will ensure sustainability of the profession by the attraction of young teachers to replace the aging greater population especially in the Nigerian public schools.
The private education sector account for the provision of 58% of new jobs in Nigeria and they are mostly teachers. Of the over 400,000 young Nigerians mobilised yearly for the mandatory one year National Youth Service, more than 75% are given their first jobs as teachers during that period. Many of them remain as teachers and go on to re-train to acquire professional certifications. This means that the theme of the 2019 World Teachers’ Day speaks about the Nigerian private schools of which NAPPS Nigeria is proud to be their primary umbrella body.
The challenges of the Nigerian teacher are too numerous to address in this message but we shall consider security and welfare as very pressing. Today as we speak, two teachers and six of their female students from Engravers College, Kaduna State are in the captivity of kidnapers. This is just one of the many security challenges faced by teachers from Maiduguri to Chibok to Lagos – across the whole nation. To attract young teachers into the profession, we must guarantee not only their physical security but their job security. As we call on the security agencies to intensify search and rescue of all teachers and students in kidnappers’ dens, employers like us should also do more to secure their jobs by keying into insurance and pension packages.
The welfare of the Nigerian teacher is taken for granted leading to the adage “the reward of teachers is in heaven”. But we know that a hungry man is an angry man. An angry man is inclined to aggressive and violent behaviour that may deny him that heaven. Many state governments owe teachers for unexplainable and unjustifiable reasons. Some states are in arrears of over seven months while many are also owing retired teachers their deserved pensions and gratuities. This should not be so and should be condemned in very strong terms by all men and women of goodwill. It demoralises the teachers and discourages young teachers from joining the profession. Today, not many students willingly seek university admissions to train as teachers because of poor welfare packages and public perception of teachers.
I encourage all teachers to remain steadfast in their calling even in the face of the above challenges and to adopt best practices in their professional conduct and services. I call on all teachers especially those in NAPPS schools to seek newer ways of service delivery and the application of new technologies in teaching our future generation. As you improve yourself, the market forces at play in the private sector will favour you because schools will continuously seek teachers with newer and better skills and pay more for it. I also urge you to contribute to learning with current and well researched publications that can be used as textbooks.
On behalf of the National Executive Council, I congratulate all Nigerian teachers especially those labouring in thousands of private schools across the nation. As Henry Brooks Adams said “Teachers affect eternity; no one can tell where their influence stops”. You are well appreciated as the true champions of modern Nigeria.
Congratulation on this 2019 World Teacher’ Day.
If you can read this, thank your teacher.
God bless all Teachers
God bless Nigeria
5th October 2019