By Fabian Ekeruche
As the global community marks World Teachers Day, an NGO, Human Development Initiatives (HDI), on Monday in Lagos urged the Lagos State Government to invest more in education to make the teaching profession more attractive.
The organisation also appealed to the government to give priority to teachers’ training and welfare.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Oct. 5 every year is set aside as World Teachers Day.
According to UNESCO, the 2020 Teachers Day will be celebrated virtually with the theme, “Teachers: Leading in Crisis, Reimagining the Future”.
HDI said that the education sector had been in crises long before now, and that the COVID-19 pandemic only further exposed the frailty of public education and the vulnerability of teachers in Nigeria.
The NGO said that prior to this year’s celebration, it organised a stakeholders meeting in Lagos on the challenges facing the education sector in a COVID-19 pandemic era, and made some recommendations for the attention of the LASG.
HDI said that stakeholders at the event called on the LASG to increase education budget to address many infrastructure challenges, especially WASH and ICT gaps.
“Prioritise improving teachers’ training, increase in teachers’ salaries and their general welfare in the state.
“Without a new generation of motivated teachers, millions of children in Lagos State will miss out of quality education and will continue to miss out unless adequate measures are taken urgently to restore dignity and professionalism into teaching service.
“Teachers play pivotal roles in ensuring the delivery of the global Sustainable Development Goal of ensuring quality education for all by 2030,” HDI said in a statement by its Project Coordinator, Mr Samuel Ajayi.
“This goal cannot be achieved in the face of rising attrition rate of professional teachers, domination of the profession by non-professionals; weak institutional system to promote cooperative teaching.
“And quality learning output as a critical barrier to achieving inclusive education which is a global trend in education and a key component of the future of education for developing countries,” it said.
The NGO said that the teaching profession remained in crisis in the face of poor teachers’ remuneration and welfare, making the profession unattractive; and generally, poor teaching and learning environments.
HDI said that stakeholders at the forum also made the following recommendations to the LASG:
“Enforce compliance to the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN) Act in recruitment of teachers in both public and private schools as part of efforts to standardise the teaching profession.
“Teachers Education curriculum in higher institutions be overhauled and rejigged to follow global best practice.
“Cooperative teaching manual should be developed and introduced into the curriculum as well as into teaching practice.
“’Special incentives for special need teachers should be introduced to attract skilled professionals and drive the process of achieving full inclusive education system in the state.
“These special incentives should include but not limited to prioritising teachers with certified training in special education in teachers’ recruitment, higher remuneration, housing and transportation service in addition to other social welfare supports.
“Training and retraining of special need teachers should be prioritised and teaching aids should be made available in all existing inclusive schools.”
The organisation also urged the LASG, through the Ministry of Education, to develop performance indicators for every teachers’ training programme and ensure evaluation of teachers’ performance after such training in order to encourage quality teaching and learning outcomes.
HDI called the LASG to ensure regular supply of WASH facilities in schools; fortify its monitoring system to enforce COVID-19 protocols compliance in all schools in the state, including all private schools.
“Conduct integrity test of school structures; and build/equip healing bays in schools with qualified health officers manning the unit.
“The LASG should ensure strict application of education policy in the drafting of education budget.”
It also urged the LASG to widen stakeholders’ participation, including State Union of Teachers, association of persons with disabilities and recognised network of Civil Society Organizations in the education sector in developing education budget and tracking its implementation.
It noted the need for Public Private Partnership in funding teachers’ welfare and government should always give teachers high quota in their housing programs.
The organisation appealed to the government to prioritise the fencing of all public schools to provide safe and conducive environment for teaching and learning, while providing incentives to teachers in rural areas to ensure their retention in the rural communities.
NAN reports that the stakeholders forum was organised by HDI in collaboration with Actionaid Nigeria, with the support of NORAD. (NAN)