The Nigerian Union of Teachers on Wednesday demanded legal backing as the Federal Government approved a special salary scale for basic and secondary school teachers in Nigeria.
The government also increased retirement age of the teachers from 60 to 65, and the number of service years from 35 to 40.
The gestures, which were announced on the occasion of the 2020 World Teachers’ Day, were, according to the government, part of its efforts to revitalize the teaching profession by introducing “fundamental and far reaching changes.”
But the TUC expressed fear over the implementation of the policies.
Speaking in an interview, the Secretary-General, NUT, Dr Mike Ike-Ene, said it wouldn’t come as a surprised if some stakeholders began to bring technicalities that would prolong the implementation.
He said, “I don’t know the minds of other people, because this thing needs to be backed by law. If this is not backed by law, it is like someone carrying approval that has no cash point. I have not seen any Act on it now; the next thing is for us to pursue the implementation, so that it will not just be a mere approval. We need to pursue it and back it up with an Act.
“The Ministry of Education, Ministry of Justice, NUT and other relevant stakeholders must work together and ensure that all of today’s promises become a reality.
“You will now discover that from now till another World Teacher’s Day nothing may happen because of technicalities, they will be saying this one needs law and all manners of excuse.”
Earlier, during the celebration in Abuja, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), represented by the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, said the new development was to attract best brains into the teaching profession and encourage teachers in delivering better services that would produce quality students who would in turn contribute to national development.
The President said, “Government notes the emergency situation in our educational system with particular reference to the dearth of qualified and dedicated teachers to enhance the quality of teaching and learning at all levels of our educational system.
“To address these challenges and set our country on the path of industrialization where our educational system will produce the needed skills and manpower, I have approved the following:
“The reintroduction of bursary award to education students in universities and colleges of education with assurance of automatic employment upon graduation, payment of stipends to Bachelor of Education students, as well as granting them automatic employment after graduation is now a government policy.
“The Tertiary Education Fund will now fund teaching practice in universities and colleges of education, special salary scale for teachers in basic and secondary schools including provisions for rural posting allowance, science teachers allowance and peculiar allowance.
“Special teacher pension scheme to enable the teaching profession retain its experienced talent as well as extend teachers retirement age to 65 years and teachers service years to 40, create a career path policy for teaching profession in Nigeria and, teachers conversion programme and ICT training to mitigate the current dearth of qualified teachers in the school system.”
President Buhari also approved other incentives to motivate teachers, including the building of low cost houses for teachers in rural areas; sponsorship of teachers to at least one refresher training per annum and expansion of annual Presidential teachers and schools awards to cover more categories.
At the event, the President of Nigeria Union of Teachers, Nasir Idris, urged government to ensure strict compliance of schools to the COVID – 19 protocols on safe reopening of schools.
World Teachers Day unique – Delta Commissioner
Delta State Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education, Mr. Patrick Ukah, on Monday, said the year 2020 was a very unique and extraordinary year for the education sector, saying the COVID-19 pandemic posed challenges in various ways to the already constrained educational system.
The commissioner said this in his goodwill message during the 2020 World Teachers Day celebration, adding that the ‘new-normal reality’ had challenged the old ways of teaching and learning.
He said his ministry introduced the ‘Delta Teleclass’ to bring learning to the pupils in their respective homes during the lockdown period.
He thanked the teachers for demonstrating leadership in crisis time, an action that he said was related to the theme of the 2020 Teachers day celebration, ‘Teachers: Leading In Crisis, Reimaging The future.’
Abia teachers list challenges
The Abia State chapter of the Nigeria Union of Teachers on Monday highlighted the challenges facing them in the state.
The state chairman of NUT, Kizito Kalu, at the 2020 World Teachers’ Day celebration in Umuahia, highlighted the challenges to include non-payment of primary and secondary school teachers up to 13 months, non-payment of TSS to Primary school teachers and non-implementation of their promotion.
Other challenges, according to Kalu were the non-payment of 11 months minimum wage arrears to secondary school teachers and arrears of leave allowances to them and their colleagues in primary schools.
The union pleaded with the state governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, to intervene, reminding him that teachers’ reward was no longer in heaven.
Responding, Ikpeazu, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Barr. ACB Agbazuere, assured the teachers that they will receive ‘another’ salary alert from Tuesday (today).
Fayemi charges teachers to reposition schools
Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, on Monday urged teachers to brace for the tasks of rebuilding the school system which had been under lockdown in the last six months.
Fayemi, who described teachers as major stakeholders in the drive towards nation-building, said government policies in the education sector could not succeed without the support and cooperation of teachers.
The governor, who spoke at the 2020 World Teacher’s Day celebration in Ado Ekiti, urged teachers to maintain the hard work in order to improve on the remarkable performance of students in their external examinations and other related academic activities as they were gradually returning to school.
He said, “We will keep putting every measure in place towards empowering teachers, improving and professionalizing teaching through the activities of the Teaching Service Commission and the State Universal Basic Education Board.
“We are not unmindful of the importance of quality education to manage the socio-political and economic challenges being encountered by society. A good and dutiful teacher is not just a person who teaches academic lessons, rather, he is the one who mentors and helps the learner in each sphere of his life.”