Today, I joined the rest of the world to celebrate World Teachers’ Day, a day dedicated to honouring and appreciating the role of teachers in shaping the future of humanity. Teachers are the pillars of any society, as they impart knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes to the learners who will become the leaders, innovators, and citizens of tomorrow. Teachers are also agents of change, as they promote peace, tolerance, democracy, and sustainable development through their teaching and learning practices.
However, as we celebrate World Teachers’ Day today, we cannot ignore the fact that teachers in Nigeria face many challenges and difficulties that affect their status, welfare, and performance. According to the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), the country has only 2.3 million registered teachers on its database as of 2023. This is barely enough to cater to the over 20.1 million out-of-school children (per UNESCO). The teacher-to-student ratio in some parts of the country is as high as 1:124, far above the recommended standard of 1:35. Teachers are also poorly paid, poorly trained, poorly motivated, and poorly respected in many cases. Many teachers in the private sector do not earn the minimum wage of ₦30,000 per month, while many teachers in the public sector are owed salaries and pensions for months or years. Teachers also lack adequate facilities, equipment, materials, and support to deliver quality education in a conducive environment.
These challenges have serious implications for the quality and relevance of education in Nigeria. They also discourage many young and talented people from joining or staying in the teaching profession. As a result, Nigeria faces a severe teacher shortage that threatens to undermine its educational goals and aspirations.
Therefore, as we celebrate World Teachers’ Day today, I call on the government at all levels to take urgent and concrete steps to address the plight of Nigerian teachers and improve their conditions of service. I commend the federal government for approving some incentives for aspiring teachers, such as stipends, scholarships, automatic employment, and a special salary scale. However, these measures need to be implemented effectively and extended to existing teachers as well. I also urge the government to invest more in teacher education, training, development, and welfare. I appeal to the government to ensure that teachers are paid regularly and promptly and that their arrears and entitlements are cleared. I demand that the government provide adequate infrastructure, resources, and security for teachers and schools across the country.
I also call on the society at large to appreciate and respect teachers for their noble and vital role in nation-building. I urge parents, students, communities, and stakeholders to support and cooperate with teachers in their efforts to provide quality education for all. I encourage teachers themselves to uphold their professional ethics, standards, and dignity. I challenge teachers to embrace innovation, creativity, and lifelong learning in their practice. I celebrate teachers for their resilience, dedication, and passion in their work.
Teachers are the heroes of our society. They deserve our recognition, appreciation, and support. Happy World Teachers’ Day!
Nu’akofu Uthman Oladimeji, a teacher and student writes from Ilorin.