By Okeoghene Akubuike
The Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) has called on government at all levels to ensure teachers are remunerated properly and promptly to enable them to offer quality and effective service.
The Secretary General, NUT, Dr Mike Ike-Ene, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Thursday against the backdrop of the celebration of World Teachers’ Day.
Ike-Ene said that if properly remunerated and promptly paid, teachers would be motivated to give their best toward nation building. “Government can as well motivate teachers through prompt payment; wherever you are working you look forward to getting your pay at the end of every month and once you do not get your pay, you cannot plan well.
“So a way to encourage the teacher and to improve their status is by ensuring that no teacher is owed salary for the work they have done well.
“Of course you know in terms of naira and kobo, no parent or government can pay teachers for the good job they do.
“When you bring your child to the school, the teacher begins to recreate this child, begins to carve a niche for this child to a point that this child comes out and becomes a professional and begins to add value to the society.
“The working condition of the teacher is the learning condition of a child.
“Today government is hiring people everywhere in make-shift schools and paying them peanuts; when you pay teachers peanuts, they will go and deliver watery lectures.
“So I am saying government at all levels needs to pay the teacher as at when due.’’
The NUT chief also called on the government to increase the service year and retirement age for primary and secondary school teachers to 40 years and 65 years respectively.
Ike-Ene spoke of the need for the government to ensure that only qualified teachers were employed to teach.
He also urged the government not to use the employment of teachers as a political tool.
“Today our teachers retire in droves; they are dying and instead of replacing them, government is bringing what we might call a make gap, which is not good.
“There are a thousand and one teachers roaming the streets – qualified, well-trained teachers – and yet every year, people are complaining that we are not doing well in WAEC and that our children do not know how to write.
“Are we employing the right people or are we still using employment as one of those political patronages.
“So government has a duty to employ qualified and well trained teachers; there is no way we can get it right if we continue to play politics with education.’’
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He urged government to also give special treatment to the teacher in order to make the profession more attractive.
Ike-Ene commended President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration for showing interest in the welfare of teachers through some incentives such as the prize for the best teacher in the country.
He added that awards for excellence had also been given to outstanding schools, headmasters, school administrators and principals since the inception of the present administration.
NAN reports that the World Teachers’ Day is celebrated annually on Oct. 5 to appreciate, assess and improve the educators of the world and to consider issues related to teachers and teaching.
The Theme for this year’s celebration is “The Right to Education Means the Right to a Qualified Teacher’’.