In a bid to enhance the welfare of teachers, the Federal Government has approved a new special salary scale for teachers in basic and secondary schools across the country. The teachers are also entitled to rural posting allowance, science teachers allowance and other incentives. President Muhammadu Buhari, who made the disclosure through the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, during the 2020 World Teachers’ Day celebration, reeled out exciting packages that will improve the lot of the teachers. These include a special pension scheme to enable the teaching profession retain its experienced talents as well as extension of teachers’ retirement age to 65 years and the duration of teachers’ service years to 40 years. At present, the retirement age for teachers is 60, while service year is 35.
Other incentives include the building of low-cost houses for teachers in rural areas, sponsorship to, at least, one refresher training per annum to improve teaching and learning.
There will also be expansion of the annual Presidential Teachers and Schools Awards to cover more categories. The government has also approved the reintroduction of bursary award to education students in universities and colleges of education. The beneficiaries will also be given automatic employment upon graduation.
The President disclosed that the payment of stipends to Bachelor of Education students as well as granting them automatic employment after graduation is now a government policy. He revealed that the Tertiary Education Fund (TETFUND) will now fund Teaching Practice in universities and colleges of education. The government explained that the implementation of the new salary scheme is to encourage teachers in delivering better service.
We commend the Federal Government for introducing the new salary scheme for basic and secondary school teachers. Though belated, it is a step in the right direction. It is on record that no government has so far made such audacious move in recent times. It is salutary that the scheme is coming at a time the morale of teachers is diminishing. We urge the relevant government’s agencies to ensure its successful implementation.
If the new policy is faithfully implemented, it will enhance the productivity of the teachers and accord prestige and respect to the teaching profession. For long, Nigerian teachers have been neglected and the teaching profession derided to the extent that graduates take to teaching as a last resort. Teachers in many states are owed salary arrears and other allowances, leading to the derogatory expression that “teacher’s reward is in heaven.” This attitude to teachers can explain the exodus of professionals from the sector and the attendant fall in the standard of education.
The importance of teachers in the making of any nation cannot be over-emphasised. Aside their roles as surrogate parents, their involvement at the formative level of the children’s upbringing places them in a unique position in nation-building. It is good that the President has acknowledged and appreciated the selfless service of the teachers. According to him, “only great teachers can produce excellent people and students that will make the future of our country great.” Therefore, anything the Federal Government has done to ensure the welfare of the teachers cannot be considered to be too much. We call on the teachers to reciprocate the good gesture and put in their best in their places of work.
We urge the government to ensure that this does not end up as mere promises. Let there be enough political will on the part of the government to fully implement the new salary scheme for teachers. Government should come up with new laws for the seamless take-off of the scheme.
Let the state governments be encouraged to key into the programme. The envisaged benefits of the new policy will be more encompassing if the states are carried along in its implementation. We say this bearing in mind that many of these schools belong to the states. The impacts will be more if the states are involved.
However, the funding of the initiative will require substantial increase in the budgetary allocation to education. We call on the federal and state governments to increase their education budgets. Everything must be done to make the policy succeed and revive the education sector. Government should not relent in its implementation.