On 5 October 2021, it was celebration galore worldwide. The World Teachers’ Day was celebrated globally. The day was set aside to commemorate the anniversary 1966 International Labor Organization (ILO)/ United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Recommendation Concerning the Status of Teachers. This recommendation sets forth the rights and responsibilities of teachers, and standards for their initial preparation and further education, recruitment, employment and teaching and learning conditions. It is an annual initiative to celebrate and recognize each teacher’s contribution and efforts. Without teachers we would not be who we are today.
The celebration is about commitment, excellence, and dedication to duty. This is a moment when we need to appreciate the work done by educators globally. But who is a teacher? The word “teacher” covers all those persons who are responsible for the education of pupils at primary, secondary and tertiary levels. It covers those persons who teach in military and civil schools, as well as public and private institutions.
In most parts of the world, the role of teachers is very key in keeping schools running particularly during the COVID – 19. This year’s celebration gave me the opportunity to reflect on my days as a student. I remember my teachers who started molding me from a tender age when I was a primary school pupil at All Saints’ Anglican Primary School, Montgomery road, Yaba, Lagos. I remember all of them for their commitment to duty and unfailing love towards all the students.
At the secondary school level, indefatigable teachers taught us various subjects as they dutifully laid the foundation for our future. They ensured that we never lost our morals and character. I cannot forget Mr Ashante from Ghana. The only teacher who taught us Physics, Mathematics and Additional Mathematics. These teachers transmitted knowledge to all their students and the reception by students was good in my assessment. They taught us to be worthy ambassadors of our great nation.
Some of my teachers were disciplinarians in their own right. I had a principal in secondary school – Eko Boys’ High School, Mushin, Lagos – who was very strict and principled. An alumnus of the Fourah Bay College, Freetown, Sierra Leone, Pa E.O.O Adefule, who would gladly tell us about an anonymous writing on a wall somewhere in the United States of America. The anonymous writing goes thus: “When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; When health is lost, something is lost; and When character is lost, all is lost.” He was particularly interested in building our character which he knew will ultimately define our reputation in life.
Teachers were mostly not engaged in parallel business when I was a student in both primary and secondary schools. They were always paid their salaries. And they were available to assist and encourage all students. World Teachers’ Day is an auspicious occasion to remember professors who taught me at the Naval College of Engineering, INS SHIVAJI, India. I cannot forget Professor Kudrathulah, professor of electrical engineering and Scientist E of the Defence Research and Development Organization, New Delhi, India. They were role models who never thought about leaving their teaching profession. They enjoyed teaching.
In most parts of the world, the role of teachers is very key in keeping schools running particularly during the COVID – 19.
Some of my professors taught engineering extempore because of their experience in teaching for decades. I will not forget Professor Peter Dutton of the United States Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, USA, who taught me Joint Military Operations and Professor Steve Kornatz who was the Director, Naval Command College, Class 2007 of the same institution. Though a few of the professors who taught me naval engineering in India had passed on to great beyond, it is a privilege and honor to salute them all.
I think it is because of these devoted teachers and others too numerous to mention in this article that the World Teachers Day is always celebrated annually. All educators are amazing if you are a serious student. And as a mark of respect for all teachers I join other men and women of goodwill to salute them. From Nigeria to Gabon, to United Kingdom, and from Sweden to India and the United States of America, I say a simple “Thank you” to all teachers. It is because I am convinced beyond any doubt of their positive roles in our lives that I extend this appreciation to all teachers. That is all teachers need to hear along with their reward on earth. But why are some countries always neglecting teachers? I do not know.
But I do know that education as a factor of development is as important as the defence of any nation in the national security spectrum. Education scholars globally have established that there is a correlation between teachers’ remuneration and students’ performance. This is true! So, we do not need to validate this research finding because the intellectual foundation on which most Nigerians stand today is as a result of the remunerations paid to our teachers for a job well done. The question is: Why are teachers not paid their salaries when due by those in authority in Nigeria? I do not want to say it is due to wickedness on the part of some civil servants whose duty it is at federal and state levels to ensure that salaries are paid timely. Scripturally, “Thou shall not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn, and the laborer is worthy of his wages.”
I was taught, and I had the privilege of teaching others. A teacher who does his or her job well deserves to be paid. Period! Since it is almost a rule for most teachers not to be paid their monthly salaries regularly, they have started running parallel businesses for survival. Those states owing salaries ought to know that they are duty bound to pay their teachers. It is cruel not to pay teachers their salaries. Whatever the reasons are for delay in payment of salaries to teachers, those in the supervising ministry at state and federal levels should be alive to their responsibilities. “Thank you” to all my teachers.