The National President, Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Audu Amba, has called for adequate funding for and investment in public education in Nigeria.
Mr Amba, made the call at an event to commemorate the 2023 World Teachers Day in Abuja on Thursday.
The theme of the day is, “The teachers we need for the education we want: The global imperative to reverse the teacher shortage.”
The day, held annually on October 5 since 1994, is an observance to commemorate the adoption of 1996 ILO/UNESCO recommendation concerning the status of teachers.
The day also focuses on the rights, responsibilities and standards of teachers’ initial preparation and further education, recruitment and employment.
Teachers are the heart of education and in many countries are leaving the profession they love, and fewer young people aspire to become one.
UNESCO estimates that the world needs over 69 million new teachers by 2030, and the shortage only continues to grow.
Mr Amba said the budgetary allocation to education at the national level over the years had been observed to be a far cry from the international benchmarks of at least four to six per cent of GDP and/or at least 15 to 20 per cent of the national budget.
According to him, the situation is not better in many states of the federation.
“Education is a fundamental human right, and its provision is a core responsibility of the government.
“We hereby call on all tiers of government to respect and safeguard the right of every child to quality education by providing adequate funding and investment in education.
“Let us as a nation, take a stand for public education. Let us rise to support, value and respect teachers, who create the future of our tomorrow’s leaders and strive to improve their pay, and their working conditions and empower them to stay in their well-chosen profession,” he said.
Mr Amba further said that the government must play its role to improve access to digital tools and materials as well as provide necessary training which the teachers need to thrive in the profession.
We hereby call on all tiers of government to respect and safeguard the right of every child to quality education by providing adequate funding and investment in education.
According to him, the theme also brings to the fore one of the main challenges confronting our education system.
Teacher shortage, he said, has remained an albatross to many education systems around the world over the years.
“According to UNESCO, the world needs over 69 million teachers to meet the targets of the Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) by 2030.
“In Nigeria, the issue of teacher shortage has become worrisome, especially at the basic and senior secondary education sub-sectors.
“Reports from practitioners indicate an alarming rate of retirement of teachers without a corresponding recruitment to fill the gaps.
“Studies have shown low enrolment into education courses in tertiary institutions as they are considered as last options by admission seekers.
“Some trained teachers also accept the job of teaching as a stepping-stone and leave for greener pastures, once the opportunities come their way.
“According to UNICEF, a total of 175,000 qualified teachers are needed to fill the capacity gaps in addressing the challenge of inadequate qualified teachers in our nation’s schools,” Mr Amba explained.
He also expressed worry over the nonpayment of the monthly salaries of teachers and education officers whose services had been elongated by the Harmonised Teachers Retirement Age Act, 2022.
He said that this had also led to a situation where there were no vacancies for directorate cadre of education officers.
“The NUT unequivocally denounces the situation where vacancies are no longer declared for the directorate cadre of education officers who are teaching in the classroom in our unity colleges.
“Our unity school teachers strongly and overtly prefer to remain in the classroom practising their profession but be promoted to directorate cadre as and when due. These teachers should not be stagnated any longer because they are in the classroom,” he said.
He further said that the challenge of attracting and retaining young, and dedicated persons in the teaching profession would remain unabated if the living and working conditions of teachers are not given due attention and addressed.
While acknowledging the efforts made by the federal government to improve the welfare of teachers with a view to revitalising the education sector, he called for full implementation of the 2020 WTD promises.
He pledged the commitment of the entire teachers to the ideals of the profession while striving to do the best in updating the professional skills and knowledge of teachers.
The celebration witnessed match passes by teachers across the 36 states, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as well as presentation of the President’s Teachers and Schools Excellence Awards. (NAN)