As Nigeria joined the global community to mark World Teachers Day, some state governors yesterday expressed worry over the increasing rate at which school teachers in the country are getting addicted to drugs.
They urged the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) to assist state governments in addressing the menace, saying drug addiction is becoming rampant among teachers.
The governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu noted that the government was also disturbed by the scale of absenteeism among teachers.
In his address to mark the World Teachers' Day in Birnin Kebbi at a ceremony organised by NUT and Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools (ASUSS), Bagudu said the two unions must partner the state government to address the situation.
He said, "If we pay lip service to lapses in our educational system, we are throwing away the future of our children and our tomorrow's leaders.
"I was at a community recently during one of my inspections to schools in the state and one of the elders of the community told me that nine out of the 11 teachers in that school are drug addicts and they are well known in the community".
The governor observed that the education sector in the state must be made better for it to produce young people who would compete with others from across the country.
He urged the unions to take urgent measures to check their members involved in drugs and those absenting themselves from work.
"If we don't agree as a people to give priority to education, we are toying with our destiny", Bagudu added, even as he disclosed that his administration has spent N700 million on the payment of WAEC and NECO fees of final year secondary school students in the state.
Admitting that teachers' welfare was essential in getting better results, he pledged to give it priority.
"Though it is difficult, we feed the pupils, provide chairs and desks for them, but we will also make sure that teachers in the rural areas are made comfortable by providing accommodation for them", the governor declared.
In Plateau, the state governor, Simon Lalong, has recruited 5,253 ad hoc teachers as part of efforts to address shortage of teachers in the state.
The executive chairman the state Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Prof Mathew Sule, who disclosed this, said the state government has also trained more than 700 teachers to enhance their capacity in order to provide quality education.
In Nasarawa, the state government is to recruit additional 2000 school teachers to add to the man power in the education sector.
Commissioner for Education, Alhaji Aliyu Ahmed Tijjani, made government position known during this year's World Teachers Day celebration in Lafia.
The commissioner also assured teachers in the state of improved welfare and full payment of their salaries.
He said, "We felicitate with teachers in Nasarawa State and their counterparts elsewhere in the world and appreciate their input in the overall development of the society.
"We are changing the face of teaching in the state, beginning with basic education with series of capacity building programmes designed to equip our teachers with new teaching methods and equipment for the challenges of the modern world".
On his part, Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose, yesterday announced automatic promotion of all primary school teachers in the state who are graduates from grade level 14 to 15.
He also presented car gifts, with a weeklong holiday in London or Dubai, to all best teachers in the category of primary and secondary school as well as the headmaster general of the state.
Speaking during the celebration of Teachers' Day held at the Oluyemi Kayode Stadium in Ado Ekiti, Fayose who lauded the teachers' efforts in getting the state to come tops in NECO for two consecutive years promised that his government will continue to prioritize the welfare of the teachers in the state.
Foreign Morals Impacting Negatively- NUT
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) has said negative foreign moral practices introduced into the education system have eroded the people's core values and standards.
The branch chairman of Lagos Mainland local government of the NUT, Mr Adedeji Olufemi, said allowing western civilisation and global trends to influence negatively, the morals of students is detrimental to the education system as they were against the people's culture.
Olufemi noted that when education was introduced to the African setting, the colonial masters did not tamper with the culture of the society, adding that instead, they embraced and encouraged it.
His words: "First and foremost, there is no society without its origin, culture, norms and values, but along the line, we started eroding our own culture by borrowing foreign cultures.
"Adoption of foreign culture into our curriculum is damaging and counter-productive. We are Africans and not white, we have our own way of doing things. You look at our values and culture; they are the best in the world.
"The question is, why are we copying? Discipline in our schools now is nothing. We have no right to correct students by beating them. How will they respect us? Our education is not at its best because we left our indigenous practices for the foreign. The use of cane is now regarded as barbaric".
Also, the NUT yesterday decried what it described as mass exodus of teachers at both primary and secondary schools in Niger State due to poor condition of service and remuneration.
Malam Ibrahim Umaru, the Union's chairman in Niger State, made this known during the 2017 celebration of World Teachers Day tagged: "Teaching in Freedom, Empowering Teachers" in Minna on Thursday.
He called on the state government to pay the outstanding arrears owed some primary schools teachers in August and October.
He urged the Ministry of Education and SUBEB to redouble efforts toward releasing and implementing promotion of affected teachers to boost their morale and improve educational system.
Umaru appealed to state government to reintroduce some allowances for teachers in the rural areas to motivate and retain them in service.
He said, "We appealed to the state government to intensify effort to settle our
retired teachers who are patiently waiting to be paid their entitlement.
"Government should also make adequate provision of instructional materials to schools to make teaching and learning effective".
He said that for qualified, trained and experienced teachers to be retained in the system, government must come up with policies that would make teachers and the teaching profession more attractive.
He advised government to adopt the procedural recruitment policy by allowing all the statutory recruitment agencies such as Teachers Registration Council (TRC), State Universal Basic Education (SUBEB) and other vital agencies to be involved in the process.
Dogara Seeks Improved Welfare for Teachers
Meanwhile, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has commended efforts of Nigerian teachers for their service to the development of the Nigerian child.
The Speaker also called for opportunities of continuous training and retraining , improved remuneration and provision of requisite infrastructure and facilities for teachers, so as to enable them impart knowledge on students in line with global standards.
According, a statement signed by his special adviser on media and public affairs, Mr Turaki Hassan, to mark 2017 World Teachers Day, Dogara stressed that empowerment of teachers remains a top priority in all education and development strategies.
He also advocated for security of the lives of teachers, expressing delight, for instance, that security in the North East had improved significantly which enabled teachers to resume work, even as he called on security agencies to provide adequate protection to all schools in the region.
He further implored security agencies to step up security in schools to end the harrowing incidents of kidnappings of teachers and students.
The Speaker said, "Teachers are the most important people in the development of any individual and by implication, the society. This confers a priority status on them which, sadly, has not reflected in their conditions of service or living standards.
"It is, therefore, important that proper training, remuneration and provision of requisite infrastructure and facilities for teachers to impart knowledge on students in line with global standards are provided. Their salaries and allowances must be paid as and when due to encourage them to continue to put in their best in this all important task that they carry out. This will engender improvement in the education sector of Nigeria and produce better trained teachers, as well as finely baked graduates".
FG Rewards Excellent Teachers
Meanwhile, as Nigeria joined the rest of the world to celebrate World Teachers Day yesterday, the federal government has taken steps to recognise and appreciate teachers with prestigious honours through the Presidents' Teachers and schools Excellence Award, which is presented yearly to teachers who have distinguished themselves in the teaching profession.
This year's World Teachers Day has provided another opportunity for the federal government to celebrate the best of teachers and schools in the country with numerous gifts being awarded to the best school administrator, best teacher among and schools, among others.
President Muhammad Buhari who disclosed this at the 2017 World Teachers Day Celebration in Abuja awarded Mr Clement Okodo of Anambra State who came overall best teacher in the federation, a brand new car among other vital gifts to the winners.
The president who was represented by the minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu noted that the government, in its continuing effort to motivate teachers towards improving the standard of education will continue to recognise and appreciate teachers for their critical role in the society.
He said, "This gesture of the government is part of the manifestation of our commitment to promote the education and upbringing of Nigerian children through improved teaching profession. It is my hope that other teachers would emulate these awardees.
"I wish to appreciate the education stakeholder community for all its contributions and support toward improving our education system. However, there is more to do to bring the education system to a desirable level to meet up with the world's best".
Adamu revealed that the 36 states of the federation and the FCT were each given the opportunity to nominate their best candidate and school in each of the categories for assessment.