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Teacher’s reward, in heaven or earth?

By Adedotun Ajayi

A teacher’s reward is believed to be in heaven. While such complimentary divine assurance is expected to draw attraction to the teaching profession, the farther it scares people away from it!
Teachers are arguably the most important members of the society. They give children purpose, set them up for success as citizens of the world, and inspire in them a drive to do well and succeed in life. The children of today are the leaders of tomorrow, and teachers are that critical point that makes a child ready for the future.
Nigeria celebrates World Teachers’ Day every year, to thank teachers for the difference they make and acknowledge their significant contribution to the country. There are about two million registered teachers across Nigeria and anyone who is a parent, or who has a teacher as a partner or friend, knows just how important they are.
Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, announced in 2017 that the Federal Government was working on a plan to ensure that teachers were paid salaries higher than other workers in the country.
Adamu also said that increase in the salaries of teachers would help attract the best to the teaching profession.
But two years after, nothing seems to have changed according to the National President of the NUT, Muhammed Idris.
Idris lamented the poor condition of teachers in some states. According to him, this poor condition would impede the quality of education in the country.
He said: “There is no fulfillment of that promise. The other time we visited the minister, he told us that government have plans for Nigerians teachers.
“We as teachers have so many problems. We always tell government to address these problems so that Nigerian teachers will be happy. But honestly, our teachers are not happy. That is why we insist on the extension of years of service for Nigerian teachers.
“In most states, our classrooms are almost empty. About 22 states have not recruited teachers for the past four to five years and teachers are retiring by the day. That is our main concern.
“You will go to classrooms; you will see a classroom with almost 70 pupils with no teacher. Most of the states are running away from the cost of employing teachers.
“The remaining teachers on ground are manning the schools. One teacher will attend three classes in a day.
“There is also the challenge of infrastructural decay in most of our schools. Our teachers teach in the sheds. There are no classrooms, even in places where there are classrooms there are no sitting tables and chairs. How do you expect them to improve their productivity?
“Our teachers are ready to teach but the government is demoralising us. Majority of state governments are demoralising us as far as this profession is concerned. That is why we said let them address these issues so also recruit more teachers to manage these schools.”
According to those interviewed by The Hope, they are of the opinion that teachers working diligently for the lifting of the people in the society should be adequately compensated more than any other professionals.
A school teacher, Odun Ofere in a telephone interview with The Hope said that he would like to get his rewards here on earth and not in heaven, According to him, teachers should be well paid, adding that in a situation whereby they were owed months of salary would not auger well for the education sector.
He added that, “As popular and beautiful as this saying is, it cannot be fallen for hook, line, and sinker. I so submit because I think we should always ask, what of teachers who will not make it to heaven?
“Whatever little motivation sown in teachers is inadvertently going back to our children. So encouraging them, not as though they are poverty stricken beggars, is part of what they should start enjoying right here on earth. Whether we take this or not, teachers are moulders, models and sources. Nobody becomes anything without the impart of teachers at different junctures of life. And remember the implication of any river that forgets its source.
It is worthy of note to also say that no man has the totality of teachers’ rewards in the palm of his hands. None, only God does! However, whatever best we can do to remember and lift the teachers whom we have passed through before, or in whose hands our children are committed between the hours of 7am and 4pm, we should not hesitate to do it. Yes, their rewards are in heaven; heaven can start being enjoyed here on earth.
In his own opinion, a secondary school tutor in Akure, David Oyebanji said that teachers should have a well packaged salary structure that would cater for their needs now and in the future.
His words:“The saying is an attempt at treating teachers with little or no value, particularly in this part of the world. It’s been used many times as an escape route when people want to avoid the responsibilities of appreciation and good welfare packages that teachers deserve.
“It’s a pity teachers deserve to be valued and appreciated for their innumerable yet unquantifiable contributions to the human race. These, they don’t get in a place like Nigeria where people are quick to mouth the saying. I am a stern believer in teachers’ rewards should be given them here on this earthly plane while we leave whatever heaven owes them to the force(s) that judge in that realm. This is where they work and should be rewarded. As far as I am concerned, I want my rewards the earth and not in heaven.”
Mr Praise Ebong was of the opinion that teachers were not catered for adequately in the country. “Teachers’ salaries and welfare packages when compared with other professionals are low and should be improved upon. Despite the significant roles they play in the society, the teaching profession remains the least ranked and appreciated profession in the country. This is partly due to poor attention that governments at all levels pay to the profession. Teachers in the country are poorly paid, lacked the requisite training to measure up with their counterparts in other parts of the world. Teachers should be the first to be paid in the country before others. Their rewards should be given to them while still alive and not after they have been buried”

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