World Teachers' Day: Nigeria Teachers in Sober Reflection
5th of October is a World Teachers' Day, on this day world teachers celebrate and appreciate themselves in their work but to Nigerian teachers the case is quite different because it is a day that teachers are mourning the death of their colleague who c omited suicide because of poverty.
Friday Orobator, a principal lecturer of the University in Ekiadolor, Edo State, on Friday committed suicide by hanging himself at his Obakhazbaye residence in Benin City, the state capital.
It was a shocking incident that touched the hearts of many with wonders of how a principal lecturer, a staff with the Federal government can kill himself. A friend of the deceased confirmed that the lecturer complained to him of getting tired of asking and begging for loans to feed his family as the government held their 13 months salary arrears.
However, as on this day, 4th of October when the rest of teachers in the world are celebrating, the teachers in Nigeria are still waiting for their salary from the Federal Government with exception of few staff of Nigeria universities. This means that Nigeria teachers celebrated the 60th Independence Anniversary with nothing to celebrate while they have significant roles in attaining the independency of the country because most of them if not all the freedom fighters were teachers that sacrificed their time, knowledge and energy in the making of Nigeria an independent country.
Education in Nigeria is getting little attention in Nigeria and it is for this reason that the Nigeria educational institutions are in bad shape. Rich parents and some of our powerful if not all our politicians take their children outside the country to study. Statistic has shown that in 2018 over 90,000 Nigerian students study abroad. Report says that Nigeria will become the number one nation that her students study abroad. In 2014 according to data from the UNESCO Institute of Statistics (UIS) shown that after Morocco, Nigeria send most students to study outside their nations.
The reasons of sending students outside the country to study lays on the nature of our study condition that comprises of meager budget on education by government of all tiers, little consideration of teachers' welfare, poor or fair funding of teachers research and projects and little maintenance of infrastructures and meager salary compared to politicians and other revenue generating agencies. All these cumulate to the problems of teachers in Nigeria.
The slogan of teachers' reward is in heaven has continued to make negative impact in the welfare of Nigeria teachers in living at the line of a beggar and a rich. This may be the reason why corruption keep eating the system of education because all what teachers get never last for a month.
Government can allow corruption to fight itself when teachers receive handsome salary in schools and the comfort of the teachers will reciprocate on the learning of the students. Take for example, if schools were in session and teachers had no salaries to celebrate the 60th Independence, the World Teachers' Day and mourning one of their own that died because of frustration, what will the teachers teach to their students if not their problems?
For education to develop, priority of the teachers and safety of the environment must be considered. The feud between the government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is another dilemma in the arena of education because of the Integrated Payroll and Personne Information System (IPPIS). ASUU has claimed that the IPPIS has many faults and repute on the advantages of the system because initially it is said that with the IPPIS staff will get prompt salary with bumper packages and allowances but the reverse is what is manifesting. No matter what the government is willing to do, her staff are entitled to their rights and benefits. We missed one of us that sacrificed his life for the development of education.
To all teachers, today is a day of mourning not a day of celebration for losing a dedicated member that served the nation with all his might and vigour but allowed to taste the pain of death because of frustration. Federal government should intervene in the case of teachers of Edo state and other states with similar cases.
Auwal Ahmed Ibrahim (Goronyo) writes from Mass Communication Department, Kaduna Polytechnic,