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World Teachers’ Day

A Call to Action: Celebrating Teachers and Rebuilding Nigeria’s Educational System

Across the globe, October 5 was marked as World Teachers’ Day with stakeholders reaffirming the central role teachers play in imparting both academic and ethical knowledge to learners, thereby shaping the foundation of an enlightened and harmonious society. To learners, teachers serve as not just instructors but also as role models, and as young minds spend a significant portion of their formative years within the school environment, it is crucial that these teachers demonstrate proficiency, efficacy, and foster a conducive learning environment.

Examining the state of the teaching profession in Nigeria, one cannot help but question the regard it holds in society. Regrettably, it seems to have become something people simply fall back on when they cannot secure alternative employment, rather than being a cherished and respected profession. Public schools, for the most part, present an abysmal learning environment, characterized by their sheer lack of suitability for effective learning. Chronic absenteeism among teachers further exacerbates the grim situation. The meager remuneration they receive is yet another disheartening aspect of the profession, which often leaves them dispassionate and demotivated in their roles. These discouraging realities, among others, cast a disappointing shadow over the teaching profession in Nigeria.

The ongoing challenges faced by Nigeria’s public tertiary institutions, characterized by frequent strikes and a range of systemic issues, which undermine the objectives of education are indeed a cause for concern. These issues encompass underfunding, unfulfilled government agreements, inadequate infrastructure, low salaries, poor working conditions, limited teaching resources, insufficient research facilities, and diminished learning opportunities. This multifaceted crisis has had a detrimental impact on the quality of education provided to students and has driven some educators to seek alternative career paths or opportunities abroad. Notably, there have been 17 strikes by the Academic Staff Union (ASUU) of Universities in Nigeria since 1999, including a recent strike that endured for a frustrating 8 months before being conditionally suspended.

This situation is undeniably a source of embarrassment for the nation. It reflects a failure on multiple levels, from the government’s inability to prioritize and adequately fund education to the erosion of the teaching profession’s appeal due to poor conditions and compensation. The consequences of these issues extend beyond the immediate disruption of academic activities; they undermine the long-term prospects of Nigeria’s education system and, consequently, the nation’s development.

The shortage of teachers in Nigeria is a critical issue that hampers the country’s educational system. The 2022 Universal Basic Education Commission National Personnel Audit reveals a stark disparity between the number of teachers available and the vast student population across various educational levels. In pre-primary schools, there are 354,651 teachers responsible for catering to a staggering 7.2 million students. This disproportionately ineffective student-teacher ratio raises concern about the quality of early education. Primary schools, accommodating 32 million students, have 915,593 teachers. Although this ratio is comparatively better than pre-primary schools, it still highlights a substantial demand for additional educators to ensure personalized attention and quality education. Junior secondary schools, with 8 million students, have 416,291 teachers. This ratio indicates that there is room for improvement in teacher availability at this level as well.

To compound these challenges, despite the large student populations, in 2023, the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN) reported a registered teacher count of 2.3 million. While this demonstrates a substantial pool of registered educators, the distribution of teachers across different levels of education remains uneven, leaving some areas with significant shortages.

As Nigeria turns 63 in October 2023, it is profoundly disheartening to witness the unacceptable situation, which unfolded in the capital city, Abuja. Primary school teachers turned away eager pupils who had resumed classes in September, a month ahead of Nigeria’s independence anniversary. This deeply distressing scenario was the outcome of a strike declared by the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), driven by the government’s persistent failure to fulfill its obligations, including the non-payment of its members’ arrears and rightful entitlements. It’s a stark and disappointing testament to the glaring absence of determination and political will to elevate our educational system to the standards of excellence it should achieve. For a nation aspiring to grow, thrive, and compete globally, we must invest in our foundational pillars: health, education, economy, and security. 

Education remains the cornerstone of any progressive society; Nigeria’s children are its lifeblood and the nation’s future. When and where dedicated teachers are forced to resort to strikes just to receive the wages and benefits they have earned, we must realize something is fundamentally wrong with our national priorities. Our educational institutions are meant to be temples of knowledge, where our children can receive a world-class education that equips them to face the challenges of tomorrow. Yet, what we are witnessing is a crumbling system, where teachers are demoralized, pupils are left without guidance, and the very essence of our nation’s progress is threatened.

As we reach the halfway mark of the years set aside to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it is evident that Nigeria faces substantial hurdles on the path to realizing SDG 4, which focuses on quality education. Despite these formidable challenges, our nation has a considerable distance to cover. It is imperative that we prioritize the attraction, development, and retention of qualified teachers to pave the way for the creation of high-caliber students who can contribute positively to our society. To achieve SDG 4 in Nigeria, we must commit to investing in education, prioritizing qualified teachers, and ensuring access to quality education for every child. This journey requires true determination and collaborative efforts.

Our nation’s future is at stake, and the time to act is now. Nigerians must demand accountability, transparency, and a steadfast commitment to our educational system. We must hold our leaders accountable for the promises they make, and ensure that our children have the opportunities and resources they need to succeed. Let us rally together, demand change, and rebuild our educational system so that it becomes a beacon of hope, a source of pride, and a pathway to a brighter future for all Nigerians. God bless our teachers!


Furera Isiaka
Communications Officer CHRICED

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