Echoes Of The World Teachers’ Day Celebration In Delta

BY OSITA BIOSA

THE World Teachers Day is an Annual United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declaration celebrated in over 100 countries. It honours the dedication and commitment of all educators who make a difference in the lives of students.
IN THE BEGINNING
The teaching profession, unarguably noble and value chained, can be said to be the oldest known profession to man. From the time the first “teacher”, God Almighty Himself taught Adam and Eve, His first “Students”, the laws they must obey to keep their stay in the Garden of Eden fruitful and harmonious, and to the period where the serpent tempted Eve and she gave a piece of it to her husband Adam and their eyes became “open’ (they realized they were both naked and covered themselves with leaves etc),the teaching profession was birthed.
THE MODERN DAY REALITY
As the ages progressed and civilization set in, the need for formal structures where knowledge could be imparted on individuals from infancy to adulthood became imperative and thus the teaching profession was formally recognized as the only legally acceptable route through which formal education, that is, learning, could take place.
This gave rise to the idea of building structures called schools, be it Nursery, primary, secondary, Tertiary, just name it, where the Teacher could impart knowledge on the students who would move progressively from one grade to the next, and at the end of the specified period for such learning, “graduate” and be awarded a certificate to attest to the fact of having completed such programme.
THE TEACHER, THE WELFARE ISSUES
Without sounding critical, it has been a running battle to get governments, especially on the African continent, to accord the due premium the Teacher deserves as the catalyst through which human resource evolve. Be it a successful Medical Doctor, Lawyer, Engineer, Military officer, Journalist , Surveyor, Architect, Accountant, Pharmacist, Agriculturist, captain of industries even Educationist, Just name it, the clergy, they were, and are still the product of the Teacher’s Painstaking years of tutelage in sweat, Perseverance, patience, love and time sacrifice to bring these dignified citizens to where they find themselves today, at the pinnacle of their chosen careers and endeavours.
DELTA CELEBRATES WORLD TEACHERS DAY
Not to be left out of the celebrations, Delta State, arguably one of the most educationally active states in Nigeria, rolled out the drums to celebrate the Teacher. The Cenotaph, venue of the event, was literally filled to capacity with Teachers, both in the public and private sector, stakeholders in the education sector, labour leaders and members in the affiliate unions and of course, His Excellency, the Governor and Special Guest of Honour, Senator (Dr.) Ifeanyi Okowa.
DELTA NUT CHAIRMAN SPEAKS
Comrade Okotie Titus, the State Chairman of NUT, in his first celebration of the World Teachers Day after emerging victorious at the recently concluded elections held during State Quadrennial Delegates Conference in Asaba noted that apart from the fun fare the World Teachers Day Celebration call for stock taking and sober reflection “on our past, present and future challenges in our quest of making teaching a profession that we can always be proud of” Comrade Okotie who reeled out major challenges of teachers in the State to include Acute school system, inter Cadre Transfer of Teachers, Wanton Removal of Names from the payroll, Restoration of Augmentation of Primary School Teachers Monthly Salaries, non release of 2017 promotion wage Arrears
Education to primary school Teachers as well as their Arrears of salary running into four months among others, appealed to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa to authorize the resumption of the deductions to pay the LGAs that are yet to complete the payment of their arrears to their primary school teachers.
The State NUT Chairman also appealed to his colleagues from the secondary schools of Academic Staff Union of secondary schools (ASUSS) to shun divisive tendencies and synergize with its mother union (NUT) to provide a more purposeful representation to teachers.
Governor OKOWA IDENTIFIES POVERTY, MEDIA, OTHERS AS CHALLENGES FACING 21ST CENTURY TEACHERS
In his address at the event, Governor Okowa said “sometimes the importance of inculcating good values to our students, is duly undermined and challenged by the realities outside the classrooms – poverty and media especially the internet including another harsh reality – the economy.”
The Governor recalled that in his days he was not only taught, but also the right values were inculcated in him, and therefore stressed the need for teachers to be empowered and have the freedom to carry out their duties.
Describing the theme for this year’s celebration, “Teaching in freedom, empowering Teachers” to be apt, Governor Okowa underscored the need for stakeholders to always keep in view the direction the educational system should take, regardless of the availability or otherwise of resources, in order to be at par with other countries of the world who make sure that the highest standards are kept and students hearts and minds keyed in that direction.
Noting that the empowerment of teachers has always formed the nucleus of his administration’s educational policy, in line with the 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goal for education, the Governor said that as one of the top priorities as encapsulated in the SMART Agenda, regular payment of salaries, promotions, training and sundry obligations have always received prompt attention in spite of limited resources and the huge wage bill of public servants in the State
He also announced that a Teachers Development Centre would be constructed in the State in order to ensure quality teachers in the school system and commended the NUT for partnering with his administration in moving education forward.
TASK BEFORE THE TEACHERS UNION
While reveling in the age long recognition given to the Teacher by the observance of this annual day in their memory, the leadership of the various Teachers unions, be it ASUU, SSANU, COEASU, ASUP, NUT etc, must form a common bond of resolve to ensure that its resolutions are given prompt attention by government. The era where negotiation had remain mere documents without being honoured after legion years should gradually start phasing from our rules of negotiation. On the flip side, however, the unions must be realistic in their demands in line with current economic trends so as to reach a consensus and implement a realizable agenda. The template for negotiation should always be based on realistic indices so that at the end of the day, the end of the day, the sector and its key players are better for it.
DELTA GOVERNMENT AND TEACHERS WELFARE
If an opinion poll is to be conducted nationwide, Delta State will certainly rank among the top echelon of states that are not only educationally active, but have also put in place workable and implementable policies and programmes to drive the process of quality education and welfare for its teaching staff. With over a thousand public educational Institutions at primary, Secondary and tertiary levels, successive administrations knowing the critical importance education plays in the development of the society, have contributed a huge chunk of its resources to not only ensuring that the enabling infrastructure boost a conducive teaching and learning environment is constantly upgraded, but it has also made sure that through proper policy formulation and implementation of education driven policies, teachers welfare take the front burner. Apart from Primary School teachers who are directly paid by Local Education Authorities (government also gives the Local governments grants in this regard), it is almost not heard of for secondary school and other Tertiary Institutions Teaching and non teaching staff alike to have suffered any hiccups in the payment of their salaries and allowances in addition to being entitled to both local and foreign trainings within limits of available resources.
Specifically, under the Okowa administration, more Primary and secondary schools have been approved across the three senatorial districts of the state in order to ensure that children of school going age in hitherto disadvantaged areas get access to education by the establishment of these public schools close to their communities. In addition also, under the state Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) Massive facelift has been given to a lot public primary schools while infrastructure such as modern Desks and Tables and other teaching facilities such as Black boards etc provided for ease of learning. Ditto also for the secondary schools which is under the purview of the Post Primary Education Board (PPEB).
BEYOND THE CLEBRATION
As we mark the 2017 version of World Teachers day, let us pause and reflect on the contributions of this noble profession that has made World Leaders as accomplished professionals in virtually every field of human endeavour. Noble as the Teaching profession is, all hands must be on deck to accord them the well deserved pride of place in the society. The teacher’s welfare should, with all intents and purposes, not be sacrificed on the altar of political maneuvering or grandstanding. Gone should be the once touted swan song that “the Teacher’s reward is in Heaven. The teacher deserves his/her reward.