…17 states owing teachers salaries, allowances-NUT
By Joseph Erunke
ABUJA- NIGERIA’s falling state of education occasioned by poor wages and little attention to infrastructures by stakeholders especially government dominated issues, Thursday, as the country joined the rest of other world to mark this year’s World Teachers’ Day.
President Muhammadu Buhari was not left aside as he openly confessed that the country had not done enough to raise its education sector to an expected level, saying it was being faced with huge challenges.
The president, nonetheless, promised that the dilapidated education sector would be necessarily tackled by his administration in no distant time.
To show his gratitude to some teachers who have gone extra miles to give in their best in spite of challenges in the education sector, the president, speaking through the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, at the celebration of the event in Abuja, handed over the keys of a brand new Nissan Almera, to one 51 year-old Mr Okodo Clement Nwoye,from Anambra State, for emerging the 2017 overall best teacher in Nigeria.
Buhari, who pledged to continue to motivate teachers towards improving the standard of education, said the presidential merit award, in which, the car was presented to the overall best teacher, was intended to motivate teachers, school administrators and schools at basic and secondary schools.
He said empowering teachers, strengthening the teaching profession and the enthronement of quality education delivery at all levels in Nigeria are among the preoccupations and policy thrusts of his administration.
He added that it was in keeping with the government’s commitment to creating a conducive and safe environment for teaching and learning to flourish, that the administration, at inception, tackled the issue of insecurity on the Northeast and other parts of the country..
He said: “In spite of the appreciable progress we are making in revitalising the education sector, is still bedevilled with so many challenges. These challenges are being systematically tackled and addressed.
“The declaration of ’emergency in the education sector and the launching of the Ministerial Strategic Plan, of the Ministry of education were further actions taken to consolidate the education revitalisation,” he said.
Buhari, also disclosed that in 2016, more than N50 billion was allocated by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), to colleges of education, polytechnics, and universities to support the training of their teachers to obtain higher degrees.
He said the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) has also invested more than N4.4 billion of the 2015 Teacher Professional Development Fund in teacher training.
The President acknowledged that there was more to do to bring the education system to a desirable level to meet up with World’s best, appealed to stakeholders to pay attention to areas that lead to skill acquisition, entrepreneurship, creative and innovative education.
Also, speaking at the occasion, National President of Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, Comrade Michael Ologba, that as at the end of September, 2017, primary and secondary school teachers were owed from two to 11 months salaries and allowances in 17 states across the country.
Olukoya, in his speech, condemned states that were owing salaries and allowances due to teachers in their states in spite of the bail-out funds made available to them by the Federal government.
He said: “As at the end of September, 2017, primary and secondary school teachers were owed from two (2) to 11 months salaries and allowances in 17 states in the country.
“Worst still, some state governments have since adopted the inhuman act of paying monthly salaries in fractions, without any guarantee that the remaining part will be paid to the teachers”.
Olukoya, also condemned plans by some state governments to hand over public schools to the private managers, saying this privatisation and commercialisation of education would increase its cost beyond the reach of the poor.
He, therefore, called on tiers of government to take necessary steps to check this ugly trend and to increase budgetary allocations to the education sector for the provision of quality education for the benefit of the mass of Nigeria children and for the overall development of the nation.