In Celebration of World Teachers' Day - Teachers' Reward;On Earth Or In Heaven?

By Alao Abiodun

All over the world, on every 5th of October, teachers are celebrated for their -- outstanding, consistent and remarkable roles and responsibilities in moulding one's future. According to UNESCO, the 2018 World Teachers’ Day marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) which recognizes -- Education as a key fundamental right and establishes an entitlement to free compulsory education -- ensuring inclusive and equitable access for all children. This year’s theme, “The right to education means the right to a qualified teacher,” has been chosen to remind the global community that the right to education cannot be achieved without the right to trained and qualified teachers.

However, the popular saying that ‘a teacher’s reward is in heaven’ has often been repeated over time and time again to the point that teachers are no longer celebrated as expected but they are rather left to their own self appraisal rather than giving them a resounding ovation towards their contributions to the process of national development.

It is therefore not out of place to opine that -- Teachers can also be rewarded on earth, as it is in heaven -- so therefore teachers are entitled to the material blessings on earth and the heavenly blessings accrued. Another perspective from the Christendom tailoring down the line of teachers' reward, shows that -- Eternal blessing comes with the perks of lifetime joy through storage of treasure in heaven while -- earthly blessing comes with ephemeral enjoyment of certain privileges.

The importance of teachers as nation builders and as critical stakeholders towards development cannot be overemphasized because they are constantly seeking knowledge of good character -- high motivation -- creative -- innovative and effective teaching strategies so as such their good deeds are of great value. Hence, teachers should be valued on earth like a diamond that glitters than gold.

Just like what Aristotle rightly opined, He said -- Those who educate the children are more to be honoured than they who produce them; for these only gave them life, that's the art of living well. -- So it’s therefore evidential that the teaching is a standard profession that provides an art of living, it is not only a duty but a moral duty; It is not just a profession but a noble service to the world beyond priceless value. In some nations across the continent, there are some teachers who want their reward here on earth but they are being owed salaries and when they get paid, the money barely gets home with them as they have to settle the numerous debts they accrued while waiting for their salaries.

Despite having the great responsibility of moulding the future of a nation, the welfare package of teachers in some countries especially the African countries is nothing to write home about. These teachers -- operate from not too friendly work environments with meagre and irregular salaries. Sadly, some teachers plight just remain pitiful as many of them have died of hunger and frustration. Teachers are in the centre of the educational configuration in every nation but they have experienced disfiguration over the years -- teachers must attract a genuine professional status and be paid a befitting salary scale to address this maladious situation.

In a bid to survive and to make ends meet, teachers in some countries have adopted different survival strategies and tactics, such as begging, seeking for loans -- while some have downed tools and are engaged in other ‘profitable’ ventures aside the teaching profession -- teachers’ pay is so low that most of them can barely put food on their tables by the time they have settled their own basic needs, utility and medical bills yet they are expected to perform magic.

Unfortunately, teachers are treated as the dregs of the society in some countries across the globe which therefore bothers on the need to re-emphasize the quality of education which strongly depends on the quality of teacher workforce. If teachers are recognized and treated well -- it reflects on their products; the students upon whom the future of the country rests. Teachers should be seen as the pride of place because they belong to a noble profession -- The younger generation have naturally and slowly killed the idea of becoming teachers in the future because of the current travails of an average teacher.

In a paper submitted by David Evans to World Bank centered on teachers' renumeration and professional cadre, He opined that -- Teachers argue that they need higher salaries so as not to need to spend their time racing around to side jobs in order to be able to support their families. They also argue that high pay will increase professionalism or induce higher effort through a sense of reciprocity. Several international organizations have echoed the recommendation, arguing that "When salaries are too low, teachers often need to take on additional work which can reduce their commitment to their regular teaching jobs and lead to absenteeism".

A cursory look in the countries across Africa, teachers are seen are as one of the most unhappy and demotivated of all public servants but however, money isn’t the only reason -- it's a major reason. Teachers in most low-income countries earn poverty wages of $2-4 a day -- said the study by the UK’s department for international development (DfID) stressing that teachers in Africa have at least five direct dependents.

The average salary for Nigerian teachers in primary schools is pegged below the minimum wage which is -- 15,000 Naira while high school teachers get a minimum scale of N30,000 -- teachers in Malaysia are paid higher than other workers in the country. According to a recent report by UNESCO, The best paid teachers in the world are from -- Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland and South Africa in that order while The worst paid teachers are from -- Central African Republic, Liberia, Guinea Bissau and Democratic Republic of Congo in that order. It's therefore imperative to emphasize the indispensable and undeniable role of teachers towards directing the young ones in the path of greatness.

Alao Abiodun is a Journalist, He can can be reached via [email protected] .

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