*approves special salary scale for teachers
*Reintroduces bursary award to education students in varsities, COEs
By Joseph Erunke
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has approved a special salary scale and new retirement age for teachers.
The president’s gesture, which was announced Monday, by the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, was in commemoration of the World Teachers Day.
The president increased the number of service years for the teachers from 35 to 40.
Over the years, Nigerian teachers have continued to agitate amongst others, an increase in their retirement age, welfare and salaries.
Buhari, at the 2020 World Teachers Day celebration in Abuja, explained that the implementation of the new teachers’ salary scheme was to encourage the teachers in delivering better services
The special salary scale, the president said, is for basic and secondary school teachers.
The president also increased the retirement age of teachers from 60 to 65, and the number of service years from 35 to 40.
According to him, these were parts of ongoing moves by the government to revitalize and reposition the teaching profession in the country, by introducing what he described as “fundamental and far-reaching changes.”
The president said a review of teachers’ development policies had revealed huge gaps in quantity and quality of teachers at all levels of the nation’s education system. Also, the status and statute of teachers were currently at their lowest ebb.
Buhari said the implementation of the new policies was to attract best brains into the teaching profession and encourage teachers in delivering better services that would produce quality students who would, in turn, contribute to national development.
In his words: “Government notes the emergency situation in our educational system with particular reference to the dearth of qualified and dedicated teachers to enhance the quality of teaching and learning at all levels of our educational system.
“To address these challenge yes and set our country on the path of industrialization where our educational system will produce the needed skills and manpower, I have approved to the following;
“The reintroduction of bursary award to education students in Universities and College of Education with assurance of automatic employment upon graduation, payment of stipends to Bachelor of Education students as well as granting them automatic employment after graduation is now a government policy.
“The Tertiary Education Fund (TETFUND) will now fund teaching practice in Universities and Colleges of Education, special salary scale for teachers in basic and secondary schools including provisions for rural posting allowance, science teachers allowance and peculiar allowance.
“Special teacher pension scheme to enable the teaching profession retain its experienced talent as well as extend teachers retirement age to 65 years and teachers service years to 40, create a career path policy for teaching profession in Nigeria and, teachers conversion programme and ICT training to mitigate the current dearth of qualified teachers in the school system.”
President Buhari also approved the following incentives to motivate and restore the lost glory of Teachers; building of low-cost houses for teachers in rural areas, sponsorship of teachers to at least one refresher training per annum, expansion of annual Presidential teachers and schools awards to cover more categories with outstanding winners to be considered for National Awards and National Productivity Order of Merit (NPOM) awards.
Others were; “prompt payment of salaries and other entitlements including consideration for first-line charge in annual budgets, timely promotion of teachers to eliminate stagnation, provision of loan facilities, free tuition and automatic admission for biological children of teachers in their respective schools to encourage and retain them in the system.”
“The Minister of Education is hereby directed to ensure an accelerated implementation of these policies and measures in collaboration/liaison with States/Local Governments, the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission and other relevant agencies in the system to enthrone a culture of competence, discipline, dedication, increased learning outcomes and better service delivery in the education sector in Nigeria.”
President Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Nasir Idris who urged the government to ensure strict compliance of schools to the COVID-19 protocols on safe reopening of schools, said 39 million youngsters were affected by the closure of schools in the country.
Idris who said the use of technology and distance/online learning could not replace school community stressed that “face to face interaction between the teachers and the learner is crucial to the learning and development process.
“This means that teachers need to be provided with opportunities for regular training and continuing professional development, be provided with conducive and safe school environments, be adequately equipped and be empowered and supported to be able to meet the new challenges and demands of the 21st century, and to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life long learning opportunities for all.”
Recall that over the years, Nigerian teachers have continued to agitate amongst others, an increase in their retirement age, welfare and salaries.