Lack Of Consistent Wages, Whose Fault? - ETCSINES

Lack Of Consistent Wages, Whose Fault? - ETCSINES


This write up will make an attempt to highlight the reasons why the wages paid to teachers in the Nigerian educational sector is not consistent and at times not available and also identify the circumstances or institutions that are responsible. It is indeed not a small task because it is an attempt to evaluate history, examine literature and make recommendations as to a better future.

I will not dare to put down anything significant without first stating that the teaching profession is great, is vital and is deserving of the greatest rewards. I have gleaned a little bit of what has been spoken about teachers and reproduced it for our consumption and consideration as follows;

''A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning''

''It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge''

''A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops''

''Everyone who remembers his own education remembers teachers, not methods and techniques. The teacher is the heart of the educational system''

I say without hesitation or reservation that the above is a true reflection of a society and a people that appreciates and celebrates the true worth and essence of the teacher and the impact of the teaching profession in the development of a nation and its people.
This scenario can not be stated to be the truth or the reality in the Nigerian educational sector. There have been some circumstances and some institutions that have brought the teaching profession to the present neglected, devalued, defaced, disdained, disgraced and disrespected state. 

It is almost unbelievable that a Nation like Nigeria that is touted as the pride of Africa will do this to the teaching profession; the heart of the educational system. Let us look at the causative factors of this disheartening state of the teaching industry in Nigeria.

1. Successive Nigerian Governments: 
It is a popular saying that if the value of a thing is not known, the abuse is inevitable. It has become a recurrent decimal that in the last few decades, some people with little or no value for decency or dignity of labour has found themselves in Nigerian government positions where they influence policies affecting the educational sector or other sectors directly. This has given effect to stagnancy, devaluation and disregard for the welfare of teachers. Additionally, the individuals in power has failed to create a conducive environment for businesses to thrive and to also boost the Internally Generated  Revenue of States especially. 

This has given  rise to the general excuse that some state government give when they are unable to pay or pay regularly the wages of teachers specifically and the Civil Servants in general. 

It is of course sad to note that although the politicians give paucity of funds as an excuse for inconsistent payment of teacher's wages, they still end up being probed for embezzlement of the government funds that were said to be unavailable. What a predicament!

2.The Labour Union
In every organised public sector work force the world over, there are always associations, group, congresses that come together to create united front for workers in that sector and try to safeguard their welfare, improvement of working conditions, safeguard accepted industry standards and act as a safe haven for the worker for his or her defence and protection. In Nigeria some decades ago, the relevant union that possessed this characteristics was the Nigerian Labour Congress and specifically for teachers it was the Nigerian Union of Teachers. 

In those days, the opinion of the unions when made was effective and shook the nation, it was always a call to war or to lay down arms. The Congress was effective and the labour force possessed a lot of grit and boldness, the workers and especially teachers could count on them to watch their back. They were not toothless dogs.

The situation became a source of worry for politicians and they started to gradually infiltrate their way into the fold of the union executives, they caused disaffection, suspicion and rancour and the unsuspecting members and executives were willing tools some for material gain and some others for position. The saying that a house divided against itself cannot stand became so true and real for the Nigerian Labour Congress and it was strippedof it's honour prestige and most importantly it's effectiveness. They started having dissenting voices, they graduated to having camps and divisions and eventually to having factions of a union that was created to cause cohesion and effectiveness. Oh what a misplacement of priority. In essence it has lost the effectiveness to fight or to wage any battle effectively It is presently like a lost cause. Any teacher with any challenges stands and falls alone.

3.Teachers
Self preservation is the first rule of survival. Many teachers have stood idly over the years and  watched their union which used to be a fortress of support being taken over by selfish and tribal based interest. They told themselves as events unfolded that it was not their business. They forgot the lessons of the rich Nigerian proverb that the challenges of your contemporaries is a call for you to  to watch out. Even when the unions seemingly had the opportunity and the advantage to determine the candidate that emerged in elections into government they failed to take advantage of it. They misused the power of self determination on the altar of fear and timidity. They were thus condemned to the helplessness of a life of fear and unhealthy compromise.

4. The man in the mirror 
It had been proclaimed for a few years now that the greatest value that the Nigerian has is the one of resilience; that we can always adapt to any situation and any depreciation and move on in life. I have pondered deeply about this fact and my pragmatic conclusion is that it is not a positive value. Every society that has witnessed drastic change and an improvement of condition had to seriously come to a point that they say enough is enough. It is a sign of restlessness and the readiness for a better experience that drives the individuals in this community that in some countries resulted in revolution and in some civil war until rights and privileges were satisfactorily determined.

The sad fact is that we are too docile as individuals and as a Nation, we are most times too afraid to try and eventually never attempt anything. The battle for a better welfare for teachers starts with every individual teacher, from there it can spread to other Nigerians, because we must see this for what it is- a collective fight. Every sector like the Teachers Union are facing their own level of decay and depreciation. We must rise up as individuals, as groups, as clusters and as a nation to wrestle for what is rightfully ours; the right to better living conditions. There is no person that can assimilate what I have written that did not pass through formal or informal education, we are all products of good and great teachers, let us refuse to let the existence of this great profession continue to face the threat of extinction. It is a call to duty. 

Thank you.

Writer: Tola Arawomo

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2 comments:

  1. This is a beautiful piece. It is obvious that Tola Arawomo took her time to do this work. True, we cannot let this prestigious profession continue on this effete path.Thank you so much.

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