UNESCO calls for bridge of gap among teachers

By, Temitope Mustapha,Abuja

The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO has called for the filling of over 68 million gaps between teachers in primary and secondary schools.

UNESCO Country Director, Professor Hassana Alidou, said at the occasion of World Teachers Day organised by the Nigerian Union of Teachers, NUT, in Abuja that the goal cannot be achieved unless the supply of qualified Teachers is increased and when teachers are empowered to be agents of educational change in the lives of the students they teach.

“The situation is urgent. To achieve universal primary education by 2030, we need 24.4 million more teachers. The number is even greater for secondary education with 44.4 million secondary school teachers needed,” he stated.

Urgent issues
The National President NUT, Comrade Michael Olukoya, issued a two week ultimatum to the government to address some issues relating to their welfare failure of which they would withdraw their services to the nation.

Olukoya gave the ultimatum while speaking on the theme ‘Teacher Day Celebration; Valuing Teachers, Improving their Status.’

Lamenting the treatment given to teachers in the country, he pointed out that Nigerian teachers were denied their rightful status and pride of place in society and remains the least regarded profession that has continued to suffer societal disdain, neglect and degradation.

“We must sit down, assess the situation, celebrate ourselves despite the fact that we are being maligned and oppressed from here and there, freedom is still very far from the realm of teaching”

“It is therefore imperative that the  Nigerian Union of Teachers use this occasion to once again draw the attention of both Federal and State  governments to issues affecting the teachers, the teaching profession and the education system and to make the following demands”

Retirement age
The NUT President urged the Nigerian Government and its relevant authorities to kindly consider the age long demand of teachers for a raise in the retirement age from 60 to 65 years.

Olukoya further tasked the government to ensure that only professional trained and qualified persons are engaged in the proposed recruitment of 500,000 teachers in order to promote professionalism and effective service delivery.

Learning and Payment
The union also said the Government should not to relent in its efforts in the fight against terrorism and to ensure that institutions of learning especially in the North East are totally conducive and safe.

According to him, “the NUT demand that all tiers of government should as a matter of urgency pay up all salaries owed teachers of primary and secondary schools in the federation. In the same vein, the union calls on government to see to the plight of retired teachers and to ensure that their retirement benefits, gratuities and monthly pensions are paid to them that the labour of these veterans will not be in vein.”

NUT also demanded that “State governments should appreciate and take up their constitutional responsibility of providing and maintain primary education, avoid promoting privatization and commercialization of education”

Olukoya emphasised the need for the federal ministry of education to address the issue of discrimination in the terminal grade levels of graduate teachers in both primary and secondary schools by certifying a uniform scheme of service for all teachers in the country.

“It is time to take the bull by the horn I want to assure you what is customary is two weeks after our teachers day we hold our meetings and we call for situation report state by state pertaining to the demands of the Nigerian teachers. If in two weeks’ time we meet and nothing positive has happened, do not wait for any other directive, we will call Nigerian teachers out on strike,” he announced.

NLC support
The President Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba said the congress is committed towards ensuring that the demands made by NUT were addressed and actualized to enhance the welfare of teachers in the country.

According to him, “all the demands that have been put forward by the NUT president is invariably our demand also as NLC and therefore that has been adopted and we are going to work assiduously to see how these demands are actualized.”