WORLD teachers day was celebrated on Thursday with Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State saying poverty and the media are new challenges being faced by today’s teachers.
Addressing teachers who turned out in their large numbers in Delta State under the aegis of Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) in Asaba to mark the event, Governor Okowa stated, “sometimes, the importance of inculcating good values to our students, is daily undermined and challenged by the realities outside the classrooms – poverty and media, especially the internet including another harsh reality – the economy.”
The Governor who observed that in his days, he was not only taught, but the right values were inculcated in him, emphasised that teachers should be empowered and have the freedom to carry out their duties.
While noting that the theme for this year’s celebration, ‘Teaching in Freedom, Empowering Teachers’ was apt, Governor Okowa said, “at all times, we should take time to consider in earnest, the direction our educational system should take, regardless of what resources we have or do not have, to allow us to go head to head with other countries, with our comparative strengths and weaknesses; this is what makes education not simply a matter of filling a bucket that was empty, but rather a matter of igniting a needful fire where none existed before.”
“Indeed, if our aim is to change the world as we know it, we can only do so by setting the hearts and minds of our students on fire for knowledge; in practical terms, this means we cannot settle for mediocrity, we must constantly aim for the perfect score, as a matter of practice, as a matter of principle,” the Governor who was accompanied to the venue of the celebration by retinue of aides emphasised.
He continued, “the empowerment of teachers has always been our priority, more so, now that the United Nations has adopted it as the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal for Education; my administration places high premium on education which was evident on assumption of office on 29 May, 2015, when we made education one of our top priority areas as encapsulated in our SMART Agenda. We quickly instituted a comprehensive needs assessment to reposition the education sector in the State. The welfare of teachers, including payment of salaries, promotions, training and sundry obligations, have continued to occupy centre stage in this administration, in spite of very limited resources in the midst of current recession coupled with the huge workforce in the State. We have a total of over eighteen thousand primary school teachers with over sixteen thousand teachers in our secondary school system. This administration in its bid to add more impetus to education, deployed 501 graduates among DESOPADEC staff, to the school system.”
Governor Okowa disclosed that to ensure quality teachers in the school system, his administration would construct Teachers’ Development Centre for the training and retraining of teachers and commended the NUT for partnering with his administration in moving education forward.
In a welcome address, the Chairman of NUT in the state, Comrade Titus Okotie said, “the import of this day (teacher’s day celebration) is to afford teachers a unique opportunity to reflect on their profession, the importance of their duties, their relationship with government, their mother union and the general public, as well as to assess the gains and areas of need and attention in order to ensure that the education system is on proper course.”