IF you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write something worth reading or do something worth writing – Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), United States founding father.
The challenges facing an average Nigerian are enormous and teachers are not exempted from this harsh reality. Providing security for lives and properties, as well as ensuring the economic and social wellbeing of its citizens, is the primary obligation of a responsible government. However, the pursuit or struggle by teachers to provide for themselves what ought to be provided by the government gets them preoccupied. Teachers, old or young, encounter challenges that are peculiar to their career, and which can only be resolved by those in authority. But leadership failure, occasioned by lack of political will to do what is needful, bedeviling the Nigerian state has not allowed our leaders to tackle the challenges of their followers head-on.
On October 5 every year, the Nigerian teachers unite with their counterparts across the globe to celebrate World Teachers’ Day. This year, young teachers take centre stage as they form the subject of discussion, with the theme, “Young teachers: The future of the profession.” This year’s commemoration provides an avenue for teachers to be reminded of the fact that their profession does not only cater for the present but also for the future. The 2019 theme of World Teachers Day underscores the need to ensure that the future of the profession is committed to capable hands with fresh and young minds. The profession becomes enticing and appealing to young ones only if they are assured that the future is guaranteed despite what is currently obtainable.
For these young ones, who are the future of the teaching profession to embrace the job with great enthusiasm and commitment, they should be equipped with the knowledge in the specialized areas and be well remunerated too. Some unpatriotic elements in our country today are hell-bent on causing setbacks in the education sector as they work hands-in-gloves with corrupt officials to steal or misappropriate funds meant for education.
The teaching profession is a precursor to other professions, therefore it should be quality-driven. In order to attract young talents and keep them in the profession. Here in Nigeria, there is urgent need to address the pressing challenges of teachers. These challenges, among many others, include poor learning facilities, underfunding, dismal number of trained teachers and lack of commitment to work because of unattractive remuneration. One important way to secure education, which is a passport to the future, is that every stakeholder (government and parents) must ensure that the Nigerian teachers’ work-related needs are met in order to ensure topnotch delivery from them.
A good yardstick to evaluate teachers or feel their impacts is by the success of their students. When students succeed at what they do in school, their success is a function of the painstaking efforts and inputs of the teacher. Every good teacher was once a student. Growing to become a leader originates from a good tutelage received.
One can only be said to be truly successful in a profession when such person has trained a successor to take over after his departure. To have become permanently successful in any career is to have made others successful too in that area. A wise man once said that the degree to which you make others happy is the same degree as your happiness. While Karma still holds true in all we do, the teaching profession dictates the future for generations to come. How does this come to play? Karma states that: you reap what you sow – the doer gets the result of his action. Teaching, on the other hand, does not bring impact and result on that teacher rather it does on the future of the learners.
One of the ways late Benjamin Franklin became famous and unforgettable was his investigations into and contributions to electricity. His impacts have left indelible footprints in the sand of time, even years after his departure. What about the Nigerian-born Canadian professor, Pius Adesanmi, who was regarded by a writer as the one who lives after leaving? How better could one have been described after his death as regards leaving unforgettable imprints than the way late Adesanmi was? Lives he impacted while he was still around lend credence to his continuity of life after his death here on earth. That’s what teachers live for – lasting impact!
Statistics from United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) revealed that Nigeria has the highest number of out-of-school children in the world, putting the figure at 13.2 million with a greater percentage of this number coming from the northern part of the country. Policies that will make parents see that imperative reason to get their children educated must be implemented. While poverty, insurgency and other forms of insecurity have been largely responsible for this staggering figure of children out of school in the north especially, the absence of willpower by the government to address the problems of Universal Basic Education (UBE) in Nigeria has made education suffer further decline and deterioration today. The 2004 UBE Act stipulates free education for children of primary and junior secondary school age. It may appear exaggerative and ridiculous to find out that some children may have been out of school on grounds of their parents’ inability to afford basic expenses to sponsor their education. Hooliganism and thuggery have also held sway in some learning environments today and it is against this backdrop that some ill-informed parents never released their children to go to school.
Few days ago, the police uncovered an illegal Islamic rehabilitation school in Kaduna where many children were being tortured and dehumanized by the owner. Reports have it that some parents and guardians advertently took their children to that so-called rehab school for training and moral upbringing. Nigeria is left in a pitiful and sorry state if at this era and age some parents still take their children who are not mentally ill to a torture centre where they are chained hands and legs in the guise of being trained! Would it be said that those parents were brainwashed or they acted to the best of their knowledge on how to train a child?
Our worth and values in life will ultimately be measured by how much of our good deeds people remember when we are long gone. The impacts made by teachers in the lives of their students live after they are long gone, so they deserve the best while they are still around. Let me conclude with the words of influential Greek Statesman, Pericles, who submitted many centuries ago that: “What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.”
Ojewale writes from Idimu, Lagos, via [email protected]