As Nigeria joins the global community to celebrate its teachers, primary and secondary school teachers in the country have lamented that the welfare promises made to them by the Federal Government in 2020 were largely unimplemented, as they continue to grapple with poor working conditions.
The teachers raised this concern at an event to mark the 2023 World Teachers Day (WTD) in Abuja on Thursday with the theme: “The Teachers we need for the education we want: The global imperative to reverse teacher shortage”.
The event had in attendance Vice President Kashim Shettima, lawmakers, ministers of education and other stakeholders in the sector.
It would be recalled that at an event to mark the 2020 WTD, former President Muhammadu Buhari announced new incentives to reward teachers, including a special salary structure, allowances, an upward review of their retirement age from 60 to 65 and service years from 35 to 40, payment of fees of teachers’ children, and low-cost houses for teachers in rural areas.
The government approved these packages after over two decades of agitations and strikes for improved welfare by teachers.
But, speaking at the 2023 WTD event, Audu Amba, president of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), regretted that the approved packages have suffered poor implementation, hence thousands of teachers are yet to benefit from them.
“We observe with great concern that three years after, the approved incentives for teachers are largely unaddressed”, he said.
For instance, Amba said the “Harmonised Retirement Age for Teachers in Nigeria Act, 2022” has been implemented by only 14 States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) for their teachers.
“We hereby call on President Bola Tinubu to activate the Teacher Policy Reforms of the past administration by ensuring the full implementation of the Teacher Incentives approved in 2020.
“We also call on state governments, who have not implemented the Harmonised Retirement Age/Service years for teachers to do so without further delay as this will engender greater service delivery and productivity in the education system”, he urged.
The NUT president stressed that the challenge of attracting and retaining young dedicated persons in the teaching profession will remain unabated if the living and working conditions of teachers are not given due attention and addressed in the interest of teacher effectiveness and greater service delivery.
“Teachers do not only work under deplorable conditions but often suffer public disdain, disregard and denied their due status and rightful place in society. This ugly situation negatively affects the needed attraction and retention of new professionals in the teaching service”, he said.
The president also decried the infrastructural decay in schools, growing insecurity, and non-payment of allowances among several others.
“It is imperative, therefore, that the government takes appropriate steps to develop policies and adopt measures that would accord teachers their due regard and respect.
Essentially, it should be recognised that the proper status of teachers and due public regard for the profession of teaching are of major importance for the full realisation of educational aims and objectives (ILO/UNESCO 2008)”, Amba urged.