IN a world where knowledge and keeping up with global trends in development have become a norm, teachers are the ones in the eye of the storm.
But in most developing countries, facilities and tools for modern teaching are in short-supply or sometimes, not even available.
The roles of teachers are cardinal to development so much so that every October 5 is observed as the World Teachers’ Day or International Day of Teachers.
The observance of the day is indicated in acknowledging, evaluating and enhancing the instructors of the world and give them a chance to consider the issues identified with educators and the teaching process in general.
Observers note that the theme for this year’s celebration: “Young Teachers, the Future of the Profession”, is apt for situation in Nigeria.
Mrs. Ronke Aderombi, a teacher, mother of five is one of those coping with inadequate teaching aids in efforts at impacting knowledge. She teaches children in a dusty and unhealthy environment; her students sit on the bare floor, with broken chairs cluttering the teaching arena. Most days she is no mood to teach.
Such is the dilemma of most teachers in the country. Mr Gabriel Emmanuel, a qualified teacher believes that lack of teaching facilities in schools is as a major hindrance to access to education.
He stresses the need for the Governments to reposition the education sector to meet national aspiration.
He said: “We can truly say that we were not where we used to be but the fact is that we have not got to the height we need to be as Nigerian teachers.
“There is need for the government to equip teachers with the required skills and competence to meet the needs of 21st Century learners to be able to compete favourably with counterparts elsewhere.
“We can only achieve this through the training and retraining of the teachers to meet global best standards.”
Mrs Adekemi Jegede, a teacher, reiterates the need to train and retrain teachers on regular basis. According to her, this is one of the methods to address some of the challenges in the sector.
Jegede expresses concern about the decay in the infrastructure in some schools, which can also reduce the eagerness and willingness of teachers to deliver effectively.
Education stakeholders have called for more funding in the educational sector as well as other motivations of teachers to enable them deliver effectively.
Sharing similar sentiments, Mr Emmanuel Hwande, Press and Public Relations Officer, Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), notes that the situation of poor governance, mismanagement and insufficient funds needs urgent attention to revive the educational sector.
Hwande, describes primary education as the foundation of education, observing that if the foundation is faulty, it will lead to the collapse of the entire structure.
According to him, the quality of education in any country is one of the major keys to national development.
He said: “The situation is alarming and scary. Unfortunately, the quality of education is suffering a decline. Poor funding and neglect have remained the lot of primary education and better funding will make an impact on the sector.”
He noted that the first step towards reviving education ought to be the restructuring of the primary education as well equipping teachers to deliver appropriately.
The Provost, Kaduna State College of Education, Prof. Alexander Kure, identifies truancy among the teachers and students as a challenge.
He says that for teachers, reasons responsible for truancy, include lack of appreciation from parents.
Other challenges include lack of training and re-training of teachers, students’ misbehaviour and pressure to meet targets.
He said: “In a sample of 106,000 teachers in 34 countries, only 35 per cent believe that they are appreciated by the public.
“In Nigeria, teachers are more likely to skip school without a good reason, than in other countries.
“More than one in 10 school headteachers report their unjustifiable absence only on weekly basis.
“Sadly, many young teachers in Nigeria take on the teaching profession for different reasons. Many become teachers probably because they love the subjects they studied at school.
“Others take on the challenge of ensuring that the young in the society grow in maturity and wisdom for the stimulation of working with like-minded colleagues.”
Kure, however, calls on teachers to enhance their commitment towards the profession.
But the Director-General, National Teachers Institute (NTI), Kaduna, Prof. Garba Azare, says that investment in teachers and education is cardinal to attain improved education status of the country.
Azare notes that to enhance the level of the country’s educational system, 25 per cent of the country’s budget should be allocated to education noting that “investment in teachers’ education is human capital development; if you develop a teacher, you develop a nation.
”The system should reward teachers who will teach students how to learn and not what to learn.
“A motivated teacher will put in his best and encourage others to join the profession. Teachers should be accorded top priority for efficient service delivery.”
Azare calls for the prioritisation of teacher education as well as the provision of internet facilities to both teachers and students. He said this will provide them with access to wider range of information that will assist them in carrying out their duties effectively.
The Minister of State for Education Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba is optimistic that a greater proportion of Nigerians would access quality education to achieve Vision 20:2030.
He observes that no nation can rise above the level of its teachers and that government was conscious of the quality of teachers and learners.
According to him, it is in view of the prevalence of unqualified tutors in the education system that the ministry re-positioned the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), to professionalise the teaching profession.
The minister of state noted that, “the ministry is fully committed to constant upgrading of the teaching standards and contents to boost teachers’ quality.
“We are leaving no stone unturned in our quest to ensure that teaching personnel are professionally qualified, empowered and adequately remunerated, motivated and supported for efficiency and effectiveness.
“The NTI has been in the forefront of capacity building of teaching in primary schools to improve their pedagogical skills.
“The institute has been engaged in upgrading under-qualified and unqualified tutors by providing courses of instruction bearing in mind that the exit date for unqualified ones in our educational system remains December 31.”
Nwajiuba also announces that the bill seeking the review of retirement age of teachers from 60 years to 65 years is with the National Assembly.
Also, Dr Mohammed Nasir Idris the NUT National President, commends the efforts of the ministry, NUT and other stakeholders towards the success of the quest for the review of the retirement age of teachers.
Prof. Josiah Ajiboye, Chief Executive Officer, TRCN, says that the council is committed to improving the quality of education in the country.
Ajiboye assures Nigerians of TRCN’s readiness to ensure that all those who teach are at par with their colleagues the world.
According to him, the council has introduced innovations such as professional examinations and digital training programme to address emerging challenges.
A News Analysis by Funmilayo Adeyemi and Kudirat Musa of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)