Teachers’ Reward Should Be Here On Earth Not In Heaven BY BLESSING OLA

In Breaking News, Education, Opinion

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Teachers have distinct personalities. They tend to be social individuals, which means they’re kind, generous, patient, caring, helpful, empathetic, and friendly. They excel at socializing, helping others, and teaching. Some of them are also enterprising, meaning they’re adventurous, ambitious, energetic, enthusiastic, confident, and many more.

School is not only a place of academic learning but of social learning as well. A teacher doesn’t only teach. They also inspire and encourage their students to be their best version of themselves. This can have a tremendous impact on how students interact with others and shape their future.

As someone whom students look up to, they help students to acquire knowledge, competence, or virtues because they possess educational and leadership skills. However, despite these distinctive features teachers possess, teachers and the profession are not given the support and motivation they deserve in Cross River and Nigeria in general.

For instance, the ongoing strike occasioned by poor welfare packages for teachers contributes greatly to the problems of the educational sector. Due to the poor welfare packages for teachers, many of them have sought other means to augment their income which ultimately affects their performance level in class. 

The extended strike action embarked by ASUU has affected students who were supposed to have graduated but are still wasting their opportunities at home.

The welfare of teachers in primary, secondary, and tertiary institutions is a major concern. The low-level salary being given to teachers has pushed many professional teachers from the educational sector to other means of survival.

Similarly, the issue of promotion has become an eyesore. According to civil service rules, it states that civil servants (teachers in government schools) are to be promoted after every three (3) years in service, but most teachers, especially in Cross River State were last promoted in 2014 and are still receiving the financial benefits of 2011 promotion. There has been no additional implementation of salaries to teachers across the State. Even promotions have not been done and these teachers are not motivated to carry out their duties.

No pensions and gratuities at the end of service years are gradually becoming a norm. Teachers retire and pensions are not paid after years of meritorious and dedication to service. Many of them die in the process of receiving what rightly belongs to them.

Poor funding is one of the most dominant problems starting in the educational sector in Nigeria. It will be an error to mention any other problem that doesn’t have to do with funding at all levels of government in Nigeria; education is not funded adequately. For instance, in 2020, the Nigerian education budget is far below 26% of the national budget recommended by the United Nations. Teachers are not encouraged which makes them seek other means for survival thereby, dividing their attention from the primary responsibility of inculcating knowledge into the future generation.

Lack or no workshop program, training, and retraining of teachers to give better services is one among many quagmires Nigerian teachers are faced with.

Way Forward

As corruption affects every facet of Nigerian society, the educational system is not left out. When the foundation is not properly laid from the primary and secondary school levels and is taken into the higher institution, the results will be malpractices – sorting, impersonation, certificate falsification among others. 

The teaching profession is seen as an alternative when there is no job. This is evident in the unwillingness to study education in higher institutions due to complaints from teachers already in the profession. Unlike many other disciplines in tertiary institutions, very few people apply for educational courses.

It is high time we pay utmost attention to our schools and teachers. There should be training and retraining of teachers. Promotions should be done as when due. The bottlenecks in pensions and gratuities should be accorded to teachers who have served their fatherland.

As Nelson Mandela postulated, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” If the government and relevant authorities understand this, equip schools and carter properly for the welfare of teachers then our educational system will be reckoned among the best in the world.

It is often said that “teachers’ rewards are in heaven,” not on earth, no, their rewards should begin here on earth before the ultimate rewards in the heavens. It is said not out of conviction; it is out of resignation, an admission of defeat, and helplessness rather than a statement of truth. It is sarcasm overlaid by dry humor. Most teachers would like to be rewarded here on earth as they too have bills to pay, children to send to good schools, transport fares to pay, a nice house to live in, good food to eat, the elderly to take care of, and material benefits to enjoy.

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