Last week, it was the World Teachers Day, a day also known as the International Teachers Day held every October 5 of every year. It was instituted in 1994 following the signing of the 1966 UNESCO/ILO recommendation. It’s a day set aside to celebrate our educators. We all know that without them, the world would have been a terrible place as their knowledge; patience and forbearance have helped to sharpen science, technology, governance among others. In Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari led the eulogies. He also tasked teachers in the country to be positive change agents in the growth, development and well-being of the students and nation.
Buhari made the call last week at the 2018 World Teachers Day Celebration in Abuja with theme, “The right to education means the right to be a qualified teacher”. Represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation Boss Mustapha, Buhari said Nigerian children were pillars of strength as well as drivers of economic growth; hence the need for teachers to be positive influence to the students could not be over-emphasised.
The president noted that the teaching profession was faced with various challenges such as low wages, low self esteem and lack of professional and in-service training, but promised that government was committed to the course of teaching profession. According to him, frantic efforts are being made to improve teachers’ education for skills acquisition, through their continued professional development.
He said, “having ascertained that education is a right, teachers have important role to play to adequately prepare the young for their roles in the society, in order to achieve the set national objectives. You will agree with me that a qualified teacher is crucial in the educational system that is why it is important to ensure every teacher is academically and professionally qualified. In many countries, the quality of education has been eroded due to acute shortage of trained and qualified teachers.”
Buhari noted that to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals 4, SDG4 by 2030, the Federal Ministry of Education had developed a Ministerial Strategic Plan (MSP) Education for Change (2016 to 2019). He added that the plan was a roadmap to guide its efforts toward effective implementation and the achievement of the SDG4 and other related education targets of the SDG agenda. He, therefore, called for the professionalisation of teachers while urging teachers to obtain their professional license from the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria, TRCN as the deadline is December 2019.
Also speaking the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, noted that research findings had consistently shown that the most important factor that influenced students` learning outcomes was the presence of the teacher. Adamu said the effectiveness of the teacher in their commitment to the teaching profession was key to the development of a child. He said the ministry had developed the strategy with respect to teacher education, capacity building and professional development. He also said that the ministry was working towards improving the capacity of teachers, attracting the best brains to the profession and providing the nation with the required skilled human capital. Adamu called on all teachers to work with the government at all levels to move education forward.
The 2018 World Teachers’ Day marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, which recognises education as a key fundamental right. This is indeed critical. This puts paid to argument over how we as a society should treat the uneducated in our midst. It is fundamental human rights and all efforts must be made to ensure we banish poor education in our land. We take note of the President’s statement and those of his officials. Nigerians need to see these policies change the way we teach and learn. It appears we celebrate policies more than the outcome. This has been our bane over the years.
Thankfully, highlights of the event included the presentation of award to the overall best teacher, Mr Adaramola Femi- Patrick of Comprehensive High School, Ayetoro, Ogun, who went home with a Hyundai Sonata car. Also, the overall best school administrator went to Mrs Grace Ezenwa of Anambra, while Doherty Memorial Grammar School, Ijero-Ekiti, Ekiti state got a bus as the overall best school.
Apart from these tokens, we must emphasis teachers’ training and retraining at all times. Our teachers must be paid much more and the school feeding programme of the government should become a law and expanded to all states. We must crash out of school children population to their hundreds. Teachers should equally be above board. They should not be involved in acts that can diminish their authority especially they must not encourage examination malpractices.