Teachers and their poor reward
The lamentation the other day by teachers in schools attached to the police force and their barracks nationwide over the very poor working condition and remuneration there, once again, underscores the inhuman treatment and pathetic welfare of teachers in Nigeria. Teachers are, of course, among the most maltreated workers in the country and the case of those in police schools merely highlights the general situation in all public schools.
Across the country, teachers in both primary and secondary schools are unduly traumatised, as salaries and other entitlements are hardly paid on time. The result is that the teaching profession has been bastardised and made unattractive, leading to a mass exodus of good hands to other means of livelihood. The experience of those who teach in schools for children of policemen in the main is particularly disgusting, as they recently reached out to the Federal Government through the Federal Civil Service Commission, lamenting their poor working condition, lack of promotion and non-regularisation of their appointments.
Reports have it that there are over 100 of such police schools across the country and teachers on Level 14 in those schools have, reportedly, not had promotion for about 10 years. The teachers, who number over 200, lament that they are short-changed each time there is promotion examination. The reason: there are no vacancies or offices to place them if promoted.
The worst affected are teachers on levels 1 to 6, who are waiting for regularisation of their engagement. Even those whose appointment were regularised as far back as 2006 have not been promoted once. The teachers have complained several times to the Federal Ministry of Interior but nothing has been done.
The result is untold frustration, a depressed teaching personnel and, of course, extremely poor output.
A lot has been said about the appalling state of education in the country. Rather than improve, the situation seems to be getting worse. The problem cuts through the entire gamut of education from primary through secondary to the tertiary level. There is absolutely no commitment anywhere at any level of government in the country to turning around the education system of which teachers are a critical component. Only lip service is paid to building the nation’s future.
It needs to be re-emphasised that the quality of education anywhere depends on the quality of teachers. If the teachers are recognised and treated well, it reflects on their products, the students, upon whom the future of the country rests. Unfortunately, the Nigerian system or leadership is not interested in this, obviously. Teachers are treated as the dregs of the society, as people who must live with the crumbs thrown at them as remuneration when such is paid at all. Every month, across the country, teachers are usually the last to be paid and they earn the least.
Retired teachers are also not paid their pension and gratuity. Promotion is a no-go area, not even on notional basis. Denying the teachers promotion on the pretext that there are no offices to place them is tragic. The dignity for which teachers were known in the past has been eroded and the Nigerian authorities appear uninterested in learning the appropriate lessons. In countries where the boundaries of excellence are being constantly pushed, teachers are given a pride of place and they are proud to belong to a noble profession. Meanwhile, the development of a society depends on the quality of the teachers in its schools.
If Nigeria would make progress, therefore, it has to return to the noble past when teachers were accorded due honour and an end must come to the erosion of their dignity. It is unfortunate that quite often, people who have no respect for knowledge are the ones at the nation’s affairs, planning for today helm of and the future of the country. Because of this poor attention to what matters, most people who teach in the schools today are not really teachers. Most just want the job and not the work. Those with the right intellectual capacity, hardly take to teaching. Most people trained teachers have abandoned the profession for more lucrative means of livelihood.
Truth, however, is that there will be no improvement in education in the country until teachers are accorded due honour and are properly remunerated. Government should therefore pay special attention to this and treat teaching as the noblest of professions.
The package of teachers in terms of promotion, remuneration and welfare should be given special and urgent attention to encourage the best minds to go into teaching and for them to put in their best. Education, afterall, should be the priority of any responsible government.