In 1994, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) proclaimed October 5 to be World Teachers’ day. Having recognized the 5th October 1966 joint recommendations of UNESCO/ILO on the status of teachers, the world came together through the United Nations Agency and adopted October 5 as a day to celebrate teachers.
The International Teachers Day is held annually to commemorate teacher organizations worldwide. It aims at mobilizing support for teachers and ensuring that the educational needs of future generations will continue to be met by teachers.
It is apt to state that the significance of this day applies mainly to most of the third world nations including Nigeria where teachers appear to be neglected and treated as third class citizens.
In our own state, Rivers State, instances abound which prove that our teachers have not fared well since taking over from the missionaries and the Asiatic educational expatriates (the Indians). In this part of the world, teachers still complain of delay in salary, lack of promotion, poor teaching facilities and the absence of effective welfare system. Some teachers in Rivers State have lost their lives to ailments that could have been handled under proper medical care. When an NNPC staff is enjoying the best medical attention, the teacher who taught and groomed him is subjected to the poorest healthcare provision.
Teachers in Rivers State receive 60 to 75 thousand naira as their take home and from that paltry sum, they pay their children’s fees, house rent, medical bills, transportation, feeding etc. How can the teachers get the best medical treatment for themselves and for their families?
The time has come for Rivers State to take care of her own teachers. The policies of welfare packages for the teachers should be legislated upon. Recently, there have been outcries of lack of promotion and delay in the payment of salaries and gratuities for retirees. We need to note that delaying the promotion of teachers and not paying their salaries and entitlements duly, is an inhibition to educational development and should be totally discouraged. The Federal government and the Rivers state government must begin to protect the dignity of Nigerian teachers and cause all relevant authorities to respect the teachers as the catalysts of all-round development in our great country.
With a deep sense of solidarity and with the hope of better days for Rivers State teachers, I wish all teachers in our great Country, Nigeria, a happy World Teachers’ day. I pray for God’s strength and wisdom as they continue diligently, in the service of educating our children.
God bless you all, God bless Rivers State and God bless Nigeria.