Since when I was growing up as a child, I have been hearing the old and often repeated saying that the reward of teaching is in heaven. The humiliation and poor condition in which teachers in our country live, vis-a-vis the important role they play in nation-building explain the reason people ask, why should the reward of the teacher be in heaven?
I cannot fathom why a medical doctor, an engineer, a lawyer, a journalist, and other professionals enjoy full compensation for their labor while in service and in retirement, but only for the teacher to wait for his in heaven.
The teacher is a human being. It is the blood that flows in his vein, not water. He, like the engineer or a medical doctor, needs all the good things of life and all the comforts of home to survive and serve humanity.
As the progenitor of all professions and most important one for that matter, the poor Nigerian teacher should get the best reward in service, blissful life in retirement, and also get the greatest and ultimate compensation in the hereafter.
For decades, the teaching profession in Nigeria has been bastardized. It is made to look unattractive. No pupil or student wants to be a teacher. Every child wants to be an engineer, a medical doctor, a lawyer or a career politician. Young men do no longer recognize teaching as an opportunity to serve and change lives for the betterment of the society. If you could remember your school days as a primary school pupil or a secondary school student, you would certainly remember at least one or two teachers who played an important role in shaping your life.
After our parents, our teacher is the first and closest person we come into contact with outside the house. He is the role model who inspires and encourages us to strive for greatness, live to our fullest potential and see the best in ourselves.
Have you ever imagined a world without a teacher? If there were no teachers, there would not have been lessons of history to know our past. Trial and error would have replaced learning under the supervision and guidance of a teacher.
Great scientific discoveries, Moral lessons, literature, art, leadership, belief in God, altruism and many other things we take for granted, were all the products of groundbreaking efforts of greatest teachers of all time-prophets, their companions, sages, scientists, artists, war heroes and philosophers among others.
The Nigerian teacher, President Muhammadu Buhari says, must enjoy the fruits of his labour. Never again will a teacher be neglected to wallow in misery and self-pity in Nigeria. Accordingly, the government introduces major policy shift in education which will have far-reaching effects on teachers in Nigeria.
On October 5, 2020, Nigeria celebrates UNESCO World Teachers' Day (WTD). This day is an auspicious day to remember by teachers in Nigeria. It is the day government approves extension of teachers retirement age to 65 years and the duration of teachers years in service to 40 years.
Moreover, the government announces new allowances to motivate teachers. Now teachers in Basic and Secondary Schools will enjoy “provisions for rural posting allowance, science teachers allowance and peculiar allowance”, the president said in a speech read on his behalf by the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, during the celebration of the 2020 World Teacher's Day in Abuja.
Other promises the president made include new special pension scheme for teaching staff, provision low-cost housing for teachers in rural areas, sponsorship to at least one refresher training per annum to benchmark best practices for improved teaching and learning.”
Worthy of mention too is the introduction of Presidential Teachers’ and Schools’ Excellence Award in 2017. The 2020 edition held on 5th October reward outstanding schools, school administrators and teachers who performed excellently during the year under review.
Much as I appreciate the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu's gift of money, certificates, plaques, personal cars, school buses and other items to the awardees, I would like to advise the Minister to give the awardees the opportunity to be honored by presidential handshake, and to replicate same to all the states, Abuja and local government councils to motivate Nigerian teachers to excellence annually.
This is worth celebrating! The Nigerian teachers can now enjoy the reward of their labor on earth. With this new policy in education, the once despised and abhorred job will now attract multitude of adherents. Nigerians will now turn to teaching because of the new incentives introduced by the government.
To whom to much is given, much is expected. As soon as the new policy is implemented, government must bring an end to the complacency and lackadaisical attitude of teaches to work. The government should enforce compliance to good work ethics in our schools.
Education, is the best bequeathal the state can give to the people. The quality of the teacher determines the quality of education a country gives to the citizens.
Saleh Bature can be reached via email at [email protected]