■ We don’t want to be teachers –Graduating students
■ We are proud of our profession –Teachers
By Sam Otti
Who wants to be a teacher? If this question were asked in a classroom, teachers would be shocked to discover that none of their students would raise their hands. In primary and secondary schools, most students hate teaching with passion.
The rejection of the teaching profession by the younger generation came to the fore at the recent graduation ceremony of schools across the country. At one of the schools, The Sun education reporter was shocked to discover that out of 100 pupils from the primary and secondary schools that completed their studies successfully in the school, only one pupil, wants to be a teacher.
When the graduating students were asked to state their chosen professions in the school yearbook, the results showed that they would rather become footballers, economists, fashion designers, engineers, bankers, doctors, pharmacists, accountants, actors, pilots, and deejays but never a teacher.
At the joint graduation and prize-giving ceremony of Loral International Schools, held at the Igbesa campus, Ogun State, none of the graduating pupils, both at the primary and secondary school, wanted to be a teacher.
Shying away from the teaching profession
Sixteen-year-old Titiloye Tayo chose automobile engineering as his future career, while his classmate, Miss Ukanu Ogechi, wants to be a gynaecologist. Miss Utomuda Stella wants to be an economist, while Abiodun Iliasu chose the journalism profession. Some students from the Boarding Secondary School, Igbesa and Loral International Day Secondary School, FESTAC Town, would want to be medical doctors.
One of the graduating students, Chizoba Omenuko, who wants to be a fashion designer, gave an insight into why her classmates and friends shy away from the teaching profession. “Maybe students don’t want to become teachers because of what they experienced in the classroom. We saw that the work of a teacher is not easy. You have to teach, counsel and do other things,” she explained. “It is a job that does not allow you to do other things. You spend the whole day in the classroom. Teaching keeps one in school from Monday to Friday, sometimes on Saturdays too. It is not an easy job.”
Although she hailed the teachers of Loral School for mentoring and inspiring her and her colleagues, she was quick to add that she wouldn’t like to step into their shoes.
“I hated Mathematics but my Math teacher encouraged me and I made it in the subject,” she added. But when the reporter asked her whether she would marry a teacher, she laughed mischievously, turned her eyes and said: “If he is okay and has the fear of the Lord; if his teaching job can provide for the family, I am okay with it.”
More stress, less pay
The ex-Social Prefect of the school, Ugochukwu Anachusi, who chose to be a pilot as his future career, said the teaching profession brings so much stress for lesser pay.
“It is a nice profession but it is energy consuming,” she said. “Look at our teachers. They leave their house at 5.00am to come to school. It is a big stress. My school planned the teaching timetable to reduce the workload on teachers. Each teacher takes one subject only. If all schools can plan their timetable in such a way that teachers are not over-worked, that would make the career attractive to more people.”
Master Nasir Kabiru said most students do not like the teaching career because some teachers lack the self-motivation that would make the younger generation pick interest in the career. He urged teachers to be friendly with the students so that they could influence the younger generation to take up the teaching career.
We are victims of societal stigma – Teachers
The Senior Principal, Loral International Boarding Secondary School, Ekwutosia Martha Osime, said that her 36 years in the teaching profession had brought her fulfillment in life and expressed joy that she went into the teaching profession. “I rose to the level of a Principal/Director at the Federal Ministry of Education. I felt accomplished. The difference is clear.”
Osime said some individuals that see the teaching profession as a meal ticket were doing a great disservice to the career, dragging its reputation in the mud. “We have a body, Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN) that is supposed to regulate entry into the profession. But the regulations are not adhered to, so everybody finds his or her way into the teaching profession.” She appealed to professional teachers to rise up to the challenge and protect the reputation of the teaching profession in the country, so that it can attract best minds.
Contributing, the Vice Principal (Academic), LIBSS, Mrs. Christy Ndukwe, said, “it was not joblessness that led me to teaching; let me say it is the will of God for me. I got other jobs after graduation but I took up teaching. When I came in, I thought I would spend few months and leave. But here I am today. Every career is important. Teaching is one of the best professions in the world. I am enjoying my job now. I am raising people that would become great people tomorrow.”
The school’s Guidance and Counsellor, Mrs. Helen Okoye, said that it has been ingrained in the minds of most students that becoming a teacher is, like willingly embracing poverty. “We have been educating students that teachers are not poor people,” she said. “But the truth is, if you make yourself poor, you become poor.”
Teaching and other
A seasoned scholar, Elder Ben Uzoukwu, who rose from a classroom teacher to the position of Principal, Loral Day Secondary School, FESTAC, said that teaching profession is highly rated in developed countries, but noted with dismay that teachers are not celebrated in developing countries like Nigeria. “Without the teachers, you cannot have other professionals,” he argued. “But with time, things are going to change for sure. My greatest joy in teaching is imparting knowledge in children. Teaching is something I want to do all my life. Teaching gives me joy.”
Another teacher, Edosomwan Victory, who teaches Chemistry, said he never set out to become a teacher but he later found out that he had the passion for teaching. “If you talk about fulfillment, I think I have found fulfillment in teaching,” he said. “But getting to the highest level takes time. In Nigeria, I think that teachers are not celebrated enough. The government and stakeholders should look into the teaching profession and encourage teachers. Our joy as teachers is seeing our students become great in life.”
Dr Beatrice Ogana, a lecturer in the Department of Home Economics, Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education, Otto-Ijanikin, said most parents feed their children with bloated ambition of becoming bankers, lawyers, doctors and politicians, just to earn big money. She recalled how she opted to become a teacher in imitation of her mother, who taught in a local school during her own time. Her mother, she said, influenced her so much that she never thought of any other profession.
Making teaching an
To achieve her ambition of becoming a professional teacher, Ogana enrolled for an NCE (Nigerian Certificate in Education) programme and later went for a degree programme. Shortly after graduation, she enrolled for her Masters and later bagged a doctorate degree.
“The reason people frown at being called teachers is because they feel teachers are the dregs of the society,” she said. She added that the poor remuneration in teaching profession made it unattractive in the past, such that the present generation looks down on the profession. She recalled that her headmaster then had a scooter at a time when most professionals could hardly afford a bicycle.
“You could imagine a teacher attending a function nowadays, despite his pedigree but he would not be called up for recognition,” she lamented. “But those that came in limousines get to the high table. Money is now the bottom line.”
Ogana said most people think that being a teacher means remaining perpetually attached to monthly salary and classroom work. She advised teachers to make their profession attractive to the younger ones by mentoring them and exposing them to the several opportunities available in the profession.
Ogana admitted that some teachers in private schools are ‘circumstantial teachers’, who merely hang on the job for their meal ticket. Such teachers, she noted, always look out for other jobs, while still teaching in schools. She noted that some teachers in schools are not good motivators. According to her, a teacher should first see his/her job as a role model.
She advised that in this age of ICT, any teacher that fails to upgrade his or her knowledge on information technology wouldn’t inspire the students. According to her, since most students are exposed to new technologies, teachers should have superior knowledge of these gadgets and tools, unless they would be learning from their students.