By Andrew Darah
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, former President of Turkey says, a good teacher is like a candle, it consumes itself to light the way for others. There is no contention about the positive contributions of teachers to human capital development globally.
Teachers turnout engineers, filmmakers, writers, astronauts, architects, lawyers, doctors, entrepreneurs and others. The above simply shows that without teachers, the world would not have great leaders and heroes who make our planet a better place for all.
It is pathetic that teachers are not respected for their sacrificial role of burning like a candle while impacting knowledge on others to attain success. If we consider what they go through on daily basis one will but be touched to decry the contempt teaching profession is subjected to.
Recent research carried out shows that over 60 percent of teachers do not have job satisfaction and are psychologically discouraged due to low pay, deprived welfare packages and disregards for their salient contributions to nation building. Many till date are still of the view that the Teachers Rewards is in Heaven.
Teachers at all levels should enjoy the labour of their hands while alive and not pushing affirming that they should wait for the heavenly reward. According to John Dewey, an American Philosopher, education is not preparation for life, education is life itself.
In the past, teachers in Nigeria made great waves because they were held in high esteem. Then each ethnic tribe in Nigeria used to psych up teachers with different appellations, as they perceive their developmental roles in the society.
For example, the Urhobos refereed to the teacher as ‘Oyono’ meaning the one who impact knowledge. The Ndigbos call a teacher ‘Oyenkuzi’, meaning a person that educates. The Hausas refer to a teacher as ‘Malami’, someone that reveals knowledge. While the the Yorubas call a teacher ‘Olukoni’ meaning the builder of intellect.
The Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary, describes a teacher as a person who impacts on someone or instructs someone on how to go about something.
It means from time immemorial, teachers had been primo inter Peres across several tribes in developing countries before the collapse of societal cherished values for teachers.
Teachers have been demoralised by this perceived societal neglect and poor government concern for their wellbeing.
This has simulated an impaired academic success with collateral consequences on the society, as teachers were indirectly forced to divert their core objective on their survival track in a bid to meet up with their financial shortfalls.
Experts says the growing insecurity will continue unabated until governments at all levels respect the teachers and the teaching profession in accordance with global standard. No wonder the great Greek Philosopher, Plato (428-347 BC) said, no society develops beyond the capacity of its teachers.
Although every October 5th is World Teacher’s Day, set aside to celebrate the teachers’ contributions to global development annually by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) where the world appraises their collective challenges and discuss the way forward. It is commendable that the Delta State Government celebrates teachers yearly on this occasion, even though the gestures may be far cry from the expectations but it should be acknowledged.
In South Korea, teachers are known as nation builders, while Finland regarded teachers as key success behind the country’s development. Nigerian Government should also take a clue from these countries and encourage the teachers, motivate them adequately and respect the profession as noble. Because a poorly trained students will definitely ruin the national heritage.
Education experts in Finland submitted that teachers are agent of nation building with capacity to guide and inspire the children to achieve set goals and to be morally upright.
As we celebrate Nigeria independence at 62, government at all levels should drop politicking and crop up policies that will set the country as academic trailblazer in sub-Saharan Africa and beyond.
Federal Government should use the occasion to celebrate Nigerian teachers by organizing a national symposium on television and radio stations where stakeholders across the six geo-political zones will discuss challenges facing the profession and teachers’ wellbeing in the nation building.
Some of the most pronounced challenges include; Poor funding and thus poor educational infrastructures, inadequate classrooms, teaching aids (projectors, Computers, Laboratories and libraries), and Polluted learning environment.
I’m relating the above challenges because teachers’ day is an avenue that is not only meant to celebrate teachers but to also express their rights, responsibilities, teaching, and learning conditions. Trained teachers, the world over, have a quality that no professional may exhibit; that quality is patience.
They are patient professionals who do their job with total commitment bearing in mind that the student’s performance is a reflection of the teacher’s inputs and efforts. However, many of them are not motivated or encouraged to do so again despite their huge contribution to the development of every society. No nation succeeds without teachers because they are influential forces to be reckoned with in the development of any society.
Teachers determine the future of every society because they plant seeds that germinate to be the next generation.
Teachers deserve to be glorified as the profession these days, appears to be only for the poor or the last resort for job seekers.
If the significance of teachers is valued, their welfare would be of high importance to the key stakeholders (government and parents) in education. This narrative must change in order to accord teachers the true honour they deserve.
Celebrities like artists, sportsmen, politicians, and others appear to be more glorified than teachers in our society today resulting in a decline in respect for teachers. Motivations should be inviting and high in order to motivate them and other intending teachers. In this age, people tend to reward social achievements far more than academic performances. Accolades and huge rewards are allotted to shows which do not promote nor add up to intellectual improvements while educational shows or competitions come with peanuts as rewards.
A very good way to appreciate and acknowledge teachers, the knowledge icons, is to ensure that the legacies they set by way of teaching are sustained and subsequently passed on to generations to come. As they teach from time to time, the learners or rather, the beneficiaries must do well to prevent the death of the knowledge received when these iconic instructors bow out of the stage of life.
Last year, the Federal Government announced that Nigerian teachers will begin to enjoy an enhanced salary structure. It was also reported that some incentives would be included and that their service year to be extended from 35 to 40.
This is a welcome development as it would spur teachers to do more but it should be carried out as promised. The future of Nigeria would be secured if the diligent and determined efforts of teachers are handsomely rewarded.
Motivation comes when their areas of need are addressed and their welfare is well taken care of. As we celebrate the Teacher today, special tributes should be paid to all teachers to acknowledge their unflinching contributions to education. Teachers have been instrumental to whatever or whoever we all have become today, irrespective of our fields.
While I commend the Government of Delta State for taking the welfare of teachers to heart, I want to appeal to our Governor His Excellency Governor Ifeanyi Author Okowa not to leave the teachers behind in his bid to make the state a better and one of the best state in Nigeria.
He should bring the teachers close and give them the necessary encouragement. With this I believe teachers’ level of commitment will increase.
I want to on behalf of all teachers in Delta State, congratulate the number one teacher in the State, Comr. Titus Okotie, Chairman of Nigeria Union of Teachers, Delta State Wing for success and achievements recorded so far. Congratulations Sir.
To all teachers out there; Happy Teachers’ Day!
Remember to take sometime out to enjoy yourself today