It is a globally acclaimed fact that education is the bedrock of any serious nation’s development; hence it is incumbent on such country’s government and relevant stakeholders to take the issues of education with utmost seriousness.
In clear terms, education is fundamental to growth and development, and serves as critical indices to measure progress of development agenda. There is no gainsaying that it is the most powerful driving instrument of reducing poverty, improving health care services and ensuring peace and stability.
Sadly, in Nigeria it is heart aching to see that our education sector is being confronted with a myriad of challenges, such as inadequate infrastructure and funding, which, no doubt, impede proper implementation of ICT programmes in schools, colleges and other learning centres. In most public and private schools, basic ICT infrastructures are grossly inadequate, and where they are available, epileptic power supply makes it difficult, if not impossible, for them to function properly or be put to good use.
However it would be uncharitable for anyone not to commend states like Lagos, Osun, Ondo and few other states in the country who place high premium on qualitative education and ultimately human capital development in line with Millennium Development Goals, until recently when Nigerians states now witness economic downturn due to drop in oil revenue globally.
Great is the agenda to see that brighter future are sustained for our youths, but have we ever looked inwards genuinely to see how teachers in Nigerian schools are faring? It is pathetic and worrisome to know that the welfare package of the Nigerian teachers is among the worst in the country. They operate from not too friendly work environments with meagre and irregular salaries.
For these reason most of them lack the passion for the profession and in some instances are not bothered being properly trained on what it takes to be a 21st century teacher and when they are trained, lack the necessary instructional materials to carry out their jobs and yet they are the first to be blamed for poor students’ achievement.
The plight of Nigeria’s teachers is pitiful as many of them have died of hunger, diseases and out of frustration. The system has turned a good number of them into beggars and destitutes such that the younger generations dread the idea of becoming teachers in the future. If our teachers are not appreciated and recognized, they would be forced to turn their noble job of inspiring the youth to higher academic excellence into positions of becoming menace to the society.
However, as a true progressive who champions the course of building great and sound future for our nation through formal education, I think our government needs to do more for the teachers who truly are the architects and vehicles through which the dreams of our nation’s future leaders can be achieved. Government should consider increasing salaries and other remunerations for teachers to put them at par with their counterparts in other sectors.
Moreover the remunerations of teachers in all public schools should be made sole responsibility of the Federal Government, even as I understand that EDUCATION is under concurrent list in the constitution, but to every patriotic Nigerians like myself, this step should be seen as an emergency or special intervention initiative meant to rescue our decaying educational sector and motivate our teachers to do more for our children in schools. Moreover this will essentially reduce existing financial burdens on various states of the federations who could no longer pay salaries of workers including teachers due to current credit crunch that is biting the nation.
It is an open secret that Nigerian States are still defaulting in their financial obligations to their workers in spite of bailouts funds by the Federal Government to assist them to pay outstanding salaries and allowances. We cannot afford to toy with the future of our children, the call for this special intervention has no political colouration, it is in the interest of our country and the future of our children, stakeholders across board should please act fast and turn the tide.
*Hon. Rotimi Makinde represented Ife Federal Constituency and was the Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on Human Rights in the National Assembly between 2011 and 2015.