By NBF News

Abuja -  President Goodluck Jonathan has commended Nigerian teachers for their contributions to nation building.

He gave the commendation on Wednesday  in Abuja at the President's Teachers and Schools Excellence Award ceremony organised to commemorate this year's World Teachers' Day.

The President, who was represented by Vice President Namadi Sambo, stressed that the importance of the teaching profession in national development efforts could not be over-emphasised.

'Let me on behalf of our fellow citizens sincerely express our appreciation and limitless gratitude to our teachers for their immense contributions to nation building.

'The greatness of this nation does not depend on physical structures but on the minds which are moulded by teachers,'' he said.

Jonathan stressed that the theme for this year's World Teachers' Day, 'Teachers for Gender Equality', was very important and apt, in view of the prevailing gender-related issues affecting education in the country.

He, however, noted that the teaching profession had the distinct advantage of being one of the few professions that had accommodated more females than males in the country.

'In Nigeria today and as far as the teaching profession is concerned, there are more female than male teachers. So, there is no question of gender inequality against women but it is probably against men,' he said.

The President, nonetheless, gave the assurance that his administration was gender-sensitive, saying that this was reflected by the appointment of several women into cabinet and advisory positions.

On the Girls Education Project,  Jonathan said that the project had achieved some feats in girls' enrolment and retention in schools, adding that the project was being scaled up to cover more states with high gender disparity.

He stressed that the project was also addressing issues relating to the inadequate number of female teachers in the schools of beneficiary states via the Female Teachers Scholarship Scheme (FTSS), which entailed scholarship awards to young girls who were receiving training as teachers in the state colleges of education.

Jonathan expressed the willingness of the Federal Government to collaborate with state governments in designing innovative strategies for the training and deployment of female teachers to work as teachers, particularly in rural areas where teacher deployment was a challenge.

He reiterated the commitment of the Federal Government to promoting the teachers' welfare and urged the teachers to always strive to achieve excellence.

In her remark, the Minister of Education, Prof. Ruqayyatu Rufa'i, said that her ministry had embarked on the revitalisation of 'Science, Technical and Vocational Education'' to engender a more vibrant and responsive system for the production of competent teachers in the field of science and technology.

She called on state governments, the private sector and other stakeholders to contribute to the growth of education and teachers' training so as to enhance the country's socio-economic, political and technological development.

'The acceleration of our sustainable economic growth and development rests squarely on the empowerment of teachers and the enhancement of the teaching profession,' she said.

Rufa'i stressed that if there was no proportional increase in teacher training, career and welfare development, the development goals of the government could not be attained.

The National President of the NUT, Mr Michael Olukoya, called on all employers of teachers to implement the national minimum wage and the 'attendant teachers 27.5 per-cent allowance to avoid over-heating the industrial space of the country's education sector''.

'Teachers will stop at nothing and will do everything possible to ensure that the negotiated teachers' enhanced allowance is preserved and protected at all times,' he said.

The highlights of the event include the presentation of 'NUT Best Governors Awards'' to Gov. Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State, Gov. Adams Oshiomhole of Edo and Gov. Liyel Imoke of Cross River. (NAN)