As Nigeria joined the rest of the world to mark the World Teachers’ Day (WTD) yesterday, the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), has lamented the undue exposure of its members to the COVID-19 pandemic and the inability of some state governments to implement the National Minimum Wage Act for teachers since it was signed into law in 2018.
NUT national president, Dr Nasir Idris, expressed these concerns in Abuja during the 2021 Teachers’ Day celebration and Presidential Teachers and School Excellence Awards.
The event is held annually on October 5 to celebrate teachers around the globe and to commemorate the anniversary of the adoption of the 1966 ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers.
Meanwhile, the federal government has approved the sum of N75,000 as a stipend per semester for students undergoing degree programmes in education in public universities in Nigeria.
Also, the Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE) students will get N50,000 as a stipend per semester as part of the efforts of the government to attract the best brains into the teaching profession as promised by President Muhammadu Buhari last year.
The minister of education, Malam Adamu who revealed this in a speech read by the permanent secretary of the ministry Sonny Echono, said his ministry would collaborate with the state governments to ensure automatic employment for the students upon graduation.
He said, “Undergraduate students of BEd/BAEd/ BScEd in public institutions are to receive stipends of N75,000 per semester while NCE students will get N50,000.00 as stipends per semester.
“Federal government should find the modality through which respective states’ governments could provide automatic employment for NCE graduates at basic education level,” the minister said.
Speaking on the 2021 theme, “Teachers at the heart of education recovery,” Idris (NUT boss) said following the occurrence of COVID-19, teachers need to be adequately equipped, empowered and supported to be effective in carrying out the task of education recovery, and to meet the learning needs of all learners including the underprivileged, disadvantaged and other vulnerable children, especially the girl-child.
Idris warned his members across states would be asked to withdraw their services if the issues were not addressed urgently.
“The NUT observes with dismay that some state governments are yet to implement the provisions of the National Minimum Wage Act for teachers since it was signed into law in 2018. We herewith call on the erring state governments to implement the national minimum wage without further delay. May we remind them that every worker is worthy of his/her wage, especially now that our take home pay can hardly take us home.”
Meanwhile, the union also decried the incessant attacks on schools which has taken a dangerous trend from the North to the East and West.
“This trend has adversely impacted teaching and learning in our various communities across the country. We therefore call on the federal, state as well as private individuals to join hands and restore peace, order and peaceful coexistence to ensure the safety of our schools and the school communities for the good of our country.”
On the payment of primary school teachers’ salaries, Idris called on the National Assembly in the on-going 4th Alteration Act on the 1999 Constitution, to provide for the funding of Basic Education through First Line Charge.
“It will also be of immense benefit, if the extent of contribution of the various tiers of government in the funding of Basic Education is clearly defined in the Constitution accordingly,” he said.
The union further called on the Federal Ministry of Education to ensure that the teachers of Unity Schools are allowed to organize themselves and participate in NUT activities as their trade union of choice.
Also, President Muhammadu Buhari assured the teachers that the implementation of most of the targets in the repositioning of teaching will be achieved by January 2022.
The president who was represented at the event by the minister of state for education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, said teachers’ welfare remains paramount in the scheme of things and negotiations were ongoing to ensure that their salary is prioritised.
He implored the NUT and Nigerians to reflect on the past and reciprocate the landmark gesture by explicitly committing to the provision of excellent service delivery.
In a joint message from Ms Audrey Azoulay, the director-general of UNESCO, Mr Guy Ryder, the director-general of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Ms Henrietta H. Foreth, e executive director of UNICEF and Mr David Edwards, general secretary of Education International, they called on countries to invest and prioritise teachers in global education recovery efforts.