THE World Teachers Day anniversary falls on Monday, October 5, 2020. Nigerian teachers will today join their colleagues all over the world to celebrate the event which commemorates the adoption of the 1966 International Labour Organisation/United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, ILO/UNESCO, recommendations concerning the status of teachers adopted in 1966.
It outlines the rights and responsibilities of teachers, including their career conditions from recruitment to retirement. It stresses the importance of professional training and further education because only well-educated and up-to-date teachers can produce school leavers who can move society forward.
The primary reason that most products of our educational system have increasingly fallen into the “educated illiterate” and “unemployable graduate” quagmire is because over the decades, the spirit and letters of the ILO/UNESCO recommendations on the status of teachers have been largely jettisoned in Nigeria. Politicians and top government bureaucrats treat teachers’ affairs with disdain, despite the fact that they are also products of the sweats of teachers.
As we prepare to mark this year’s World Teachers Day, we must pull the teaching profession as a whole out of the abyss where it has been languishing for years. We must commit afresh to the ILO/UNESCO compact because teachers cannot give what they do not have.
ALSO READ: October 31 by-election: Lagosians can’t afford inconsistent character to represent them— APC scribe
Of particular concern to the Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, is the clamour to increase teachers’ retirement age from 60 to 65. This request should be granted for those found to be still physically and mentally strong. The knowledge, wisdom and experience of these teachers should not be discarded just like that.
We are mystified by the apparent delay in implementing the upward adjustment in the retirement age of teachers in Nigeria. A bill to that effect had been placed at the table of President Muhammadu Buhari for assent since 2019.
In fact, way back in 2018 when the Bill was still in the National Assembly, the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, had lobbied for its speedy passage. For the NUT to still be clamouring for it means the Bill is still gathering dust on the president’s desk.
It should be signed into law without further delay. Due to the neglect of teachers, young and brilliant Nigerians no longer see teaching as a rewarding profession to embrace. There is a huge dearth of quality teachers, and we should give more of the older generations of teachers who are still up to the task the chance to continue.
We also urge governments at all levels to take the welfare of teachers beyond the symbolic annual rewards for the best teachers. Though that practice helps to encourage talented teachers, it is the general welfare of the teaching workforce that matters the most.
We wish Nigerian teachers happy celebration.