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Why Nigeria needs teachers

 Prof. Ejiogu, other stakeholders stress the importance of staffing our schools with high quality and highly motivated teachers as the competition for the 2017 Maltina Teacher of the Year kicks off

Prof. Aloy Ejiogu, of Department of Educational Management, University of Lagos (UNILAG) and other stakeholders that include the Deputy General Secretary, Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), Mr. Wole Oyeniyi, have called on government, at both the state and federal levels, to staff our schools with high quality and highly motivated teachers.

Making the call during his lecture entitled “Can Any Nation Do Without Teachers?” and delivered at this year’s kick-off ceremony of Maltina Teacher of the Year held in Lagos, last Tuesday, the one-time Commissioner in old Imo State, who revealed in the course of the lecture that, as a teacher of many years standing, he had produced three governors, who were once his students, noted that “everybody who is anybody was taught to be somebody by the teacher. And only these ‘somebodies’ that are taught by teachers can drive national growth and development…This gives credence to the assumed fact that teaching as a service to humanity only compares in seriousness, godliness and sanctity to the duties of priests and doctors who renew the soul and body respectively….only that the Teacher even surpasses these two in nobility and sublimity by virtue  of the fact that, one, his/her educating acts form and direct the entire the human person and mind to become the very best it can be.”

Secondly, he further pointed out, “priests and doctors themselves are products of the teacher without whom they and their presbyterial vocations or professions would never be. Hence, what can we do without teachers.”

Ejiogu who started his lecture by sharing with the audience a sad story he read on the pages of The Sun Education of the day’s Daily Sun on how private school owners overuse graduate teachers but pay them peanut, with first degrees holders earning N10,000 and, Masters, N15 – 20,000, called on both the public and private owners of schools to do something to improve the welfare of the teachers under their care because they are the goose that lay the golden eggs.

He listed the travails of Nigerian teacher as (a) inadequate funding of the education sector (b) poor teacher remuneration and working condition (c) lack of professional and in-service trainings (d) non or short internship programmes (e) high teacher – pupil ratio (f) unhealthy government interferences (g) politicization of educaton and weak entry qualification and urged the government at state and federal levels to do something to ameliorate the plights of Nigerian teachers.

“Can you ever imagine a Nigeria without any teacher – preprimary, primary, secondary and tertiary? Or what more, a Nigeria replete with demotivated, disgruntled, unqualified and incompetent teachers who cheat their way through this sublime and noblest of human responsibilities? What would we have in return?” Ejiogu queried.

Mr. Chika Abanobi, Associate Editor and Head of Education Desk of The Sun, and also one of the discussants on the paper re-echoed Ejiogu’s position when he said that governments should do something about putting a teacher to teach 100 – 120 students per class as that would make such a teacher ineffective not only in teaching but also class supervision.

In his contribution, Apostle Adekunle Olaoye, Chairman of the Parents’ Forum of Babs Fafunwa Millennium Senior Grammar School, Ojodu, Lagos while commending Nigerian Breweries, sponsors and promoters of the Maltina Teacher of the Year initiative for taking the bold step to motivate teachers across Nigeria, submitted that education remains the best legacy a nation can bequeath its younger generation.

Mr. Imoh Essien, winner of the 2016 Maltina Teacher of the Year, and a teacher at Special Education Centre for Exceptional Children, Uyo, Akwa Ibom, called on government and other corporate organisations to emulate Nigerian Breweries by helping to sponsor awards that can motivate teachers and help to improve the standard of education in the country.

Mr. Paul Udofia, the Akwa Ibom Commissioner for Education, and also one of the discussants, while boasting that his state pays the teachers in his higher salaries than the civil servants, called on governments to make the welfare of teachers a top priority.

Also speaking at the occasion, Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Dr. Oluranti Adebule, represented by Mrs. Yetunde Odejayi, Permanent Secretary, Deputy Governor’s office, Lagos State, described teachers as the most critical asset of the nation and thanked Nigerian Breweries for the initiative she described as a big boost to teachers and the teaching profession.

In his remarks, Managing Director of Nigerian Breweries Plc, Mr. Nicolaas Vervelde, represented by Mr. Kufre Ekanem, the Company’s Corporate Affairs Manager, explained that in 2015, the Nigerian Breweries-Felix Ohiwerei Education Trust Fund expanded its intervention in education in Nigeria to teachers through the Maltina Teacher of the Year initiative. The initiative, he disclosed, was hinged on the realisation that teachers seldom get the recognition they deserve in spite of the pivotal role they play in determining quality of education. He declared that so far, the Maltina Teacher of the Year initiative has produced 42 state champions and two overall winners.

Vervelde added that entries for the 2017 Maltina Teacher 0f the Year which opened on Tuesday 9th May 2017 will close on Friday 7th July 2017. Interested teachers are advised to download application forms from the Maltina website. Applications forms should be completed and uploaded to the website or sent by email to Marina, Lagos. Mr Vervelde asserted that the company will maintain the focus adopted for the 2016 to include teachers from both public and private secondary schools across Nigeria.

As obtained last year, each state champion will get N500, 000.00 while the top 10 teachers will be recognized before the grand winners are announced. The 1st and 2nd runners-up will receive trophies and an additional N1m and N750,000 respectively.

The Maltina Teacher of the Year 2017 will enjoy an additional one million naira (N1, 000, 000.00) instantly plus one million naira every year for the next five years, a development training opportunity abroad and a block of six classrooms built for the school where he/she teaches.

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