30 Apr 2013

On the Welfare of Teachers in Nigeria

  


    “Nigeria Union of Teachers has directed teachers in 18 states that have defaulted in the implementation of the 27.5 per cent salary increment to begin a stay-at-home strike from June 1”….

This is an excerpt from a news article published in The Punch newspaper dated 18th of April 2013. Seeing this, all that came to mind was the fate that was about to befall the different students that would be affected by this intended strike action by their teachers. In a country where the educational sector has experienced a significant amount of decline, which is still ongoing, this is not the best of things to happen.
The Nigerian Union of Teachers is in a way not to blame for the instruction given to these teachers in the affected states to start staying at home as from June 1. A laborer is indeed entitled to a fair wage, and as such in a situation whereby this “fair wage” is being denied the laborer, staging a strike action is definitely a welcome idea.
Now the states mentioned amongst the 18 states that had defaulted in the implementation of this minimum wage include; Benue, Cross River, Abia, Ebonyi, Enugu, Ekiti, Osun, Ogun, Oyo, Edo, Nassarawa, Zamfara, Plateau, Taraba, Borno, Kogi, Niger and Sokoto.
Taking a look at the state of education in the aforementioned states, it is not hard to see that a majority of these states can be described as educationally backward states, especially the states in the north, and one or two of the states in the south and south west region. It is a thing of shame that these states mentioned have refused to implement the new payment scheme which has been in effect for quite a while now. Let us not forget that the future of education lies in the hands of the teachers in our country. In states where students are most times begged to attend school, allowing the situation to degenerate to the point of teachers embarking on a strike action is not the way to go! Whether we like to admit it or not, we need more properly educated people in these affected parts of the country, and no one else would do such except the teacher!. The government(s) of these affected states should thus be called to order, there should be an adherence to the implementation of the payment of the minimum wage to these teachers.
The effects of strikes on the student are one too many; apart from the fact that the academic calendar is automatically put on hold and educational development stymied, the students are exposed to all sorts of behavior brought on by their “idleness”. A handful of students take to petty crime, while some who were only trying to grapple with the reality of school would probably lose interest altogether, depending on how long the strikes take. In addition, most students who have become accustomed to such strikes from the secondary school level tend to have a lackadaisical attitude to school work and as such perform below average when school does get back in session.
The average Nigerian teacher is a parent, and as such they have responsibilities to fulfill. These responsibilities more often than not require financial power, and when their occupation has failed to provide them with the wherewithal to support themselves and their families, there is the tendency to take their work with little or no interest. You find most teachers engaging in other small scale businesses even at the expense of their engagements in school just to make ends meet.  Let us call a spade a spade and not a working tool, I personally believe that there is enough money in public coffers to provide a healthy enumeration for our teachers in their service to humanity. Welfare of our teachers is thus very important in the fight to keep our educational sector in Nigeria above sea level literally.

It is important for us as a nation not to sacrifice the development of our future leaders on the altar of negligence. If the various state government(s) mentioned in this write up fail to dialogue with the teachers who are intending to go on strike, the educational sector in Nigeria would have received yet another fatal blow, and it may not be long till the system collapses all together. The affected teachers should be paid what is due them, and the strike should not be allowed to become a reality. Hopefully more attention would be paid to the proper welfare of teachers in this country to avoid the death of the educational sector altogether.



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