Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode was named the best teacher-friendly governor of the year during last Thursday’s World Teachers Day celebration by the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) in Abuja.
NUT President, Comrade Michael Alogba-Olukoya, who presented the award to the Governor’s representative, Mrs Oluwatoyin Edu (chairman, Association of Primary School Head Teachers of Nigeria), praised Ambode for providing “an enabling environment for teaching and learning in public schools in Lagos State while also prioritising teachers’ welfare and rewarding hard work”.
In his speech at the Lagos NUT event held at the sports complex of the Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH), Ambode, who was represented by the Deputy Governor, Dr Idiat Oluranti Adebule, announced plans to hire 500 more teachers.
He said the teachers would be those trained to teach core science subjects as well as Mathematics, English, Yoruba, French, Computer Science, Creative Arts and Home Economics.
The Governor also announced the approval of the promotion of primary school teachers to Grade Level 17 for them to be at par with counterparts in the civil service, noting that it was unprecedented in the annals of the nation’s education reforms.
He said the experience has shown that teachers perform better in the classroom when they are well motivated and are well appreciated.
“Today, teachers careers are no longer terminated as principals. But many are reaching the pinnacle of their careers as tutor-general/permanent secretaries. Administration of schools, which was decentralised through the districts has enhanced efficiency, proper monitoring and assessment. This has also imbued in our teachers a sense of belonging,” he said.
Speaking further he said teachers would be provided with quality infrastructure and regular training to build their capacity.
Other benefits include allowances, bonus and personal emoluments paid by companies.
Lagos State NUT Chairman, Otunba Adesegun Raheem, said if there was any subset of workers needed to be empowered, it was teachers.
According to him, teachers rendered their services without any insurance cover and under all forms of fear and trepidation. However, he said they were yet to be elevated to the status of their counterparts around the world.
Raheem said challenges facing the education sector in Lagos could be addressed by teacher recruitment and retention, increased running cost of schools, resuscitation of the Lagos Eko secondary education project and its extension to primary schools, reinstatement of abrogated allowances and professionalism of teachers.
The NUT chair also advised teachers to register with the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), which is conducting its first professional examination for teachers on October 14. Already, he said over 15,000 teachers had registered to take the examination.
Raheem counselled the teachers to give their best and help their pupils.
“I hereby charge you to shun all forms of delinquent behaviour which may smear our impeccable names. Punctuality is the soul of business. As parents ourselves, let us teach and relate with our students the way we want their teacher to relate with them in school,” he said.
Senator Oluremi Tinubu, represented by Mrs Sarah Joseph, called on governments at all levels, to prioritise not only the work of teachers but also retrain them. She lamented that most government efforts and the initiatives of non-governmental organisations had been focused on students and schools particularly.
She said teachers were special species of servants that deserves much more than other professions.
“I dream of a Nigeria where teachers are exposed to the best training in the world to command the respect of their students and society at large. I dream of the day this noble profession will be deemed most respectable and fitting, I dream of that day when top graduates will jostle propositions in the teaching service, I dream of that day when teachers would be ranked one of the best-paid class of professionals”.
National NUT President, Comrade Michael Olukoya, represented by Mrs Adebukola Kareem, said the theme of this year’s World Teachers’ Day, “Teaching in freedom: Empowering teachers” was chosen to draw the attention of the government and relevant authorities to the avalanche of issues relating to the professional status, terms and working conditions of teachers.
He also highlighted some of the issues which include: teachers’ award, Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination, the retirement age for teachers, terminal grade level of teachers, and local government autonomy.
Awards were presented to various teachers, including Raheem; Permanent Secretary, Teachers Establishment and Pensions Office (TEPO), Mrs Sewanu Amosu; former Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Mrs Elizabeth Ariyo; and Director-General, Quality Assurance on Education, Mrs Aderonke Soyombo.
Others are 2016 Best Principal, Mrs Bilikisu Oluderu; 2016 best head teacher, Mrs Victoria Oguntunde; best teacher (secondary category), Mr Babatunde Ajanaku; and best teacher (primary category), Mr Musa Mufutau.