By Usman Yunusa Dangara
Teachers are trained instructors who provide the requisite training for learners thereby guiding them to acquire relevant knowledge and mentoring them to be useful to themselves and the society. Teachers are the first set of people who give a child a sense of personality outside of the home. If they are successful at imparting their knowledge and building a child’s confidence in his or her abilities, or in encouraging a child to pursue certain skills, then they would have had a positive impact on that child’s life.
No matter how good an educational policy is, its successful implementation depends on the availability and effective utilization of the right type of teachers who are the key factors that create a favourable teaching-learning milieu that will make the instructional process easy, enthusiastically adaptable and useful. The principal role of a teacher is to teach the learners and to ensure that they are learning through the various skills which abound, especially in a classroom situation. The standard expected of a teacher is beyond mere routine teaching task but rather to solve complex problems as they encounter more learners from different backgrounds.
The teacher’s quality is critical to the success of education in the society, which implies that the eminence of every community is a correlate of the quality of functional teachers in that society. An effective teacher should demonstrate good mastery of the subject and should be capable of stimulating the mental alertness of learners by promoting their sense of creativity during the learning process.
The teacher is a crucial component of any educational system and a strong factor alongside the learners and the curriculum. This bonding character makes a teacher the greatest aid to learning and a vital entity in the school environment which should be comprehensively trained, motivated and supported to flawlessly and proficiently perform the teaching duty. The position of teachers who are the mentors of the contemporary and future leaders, managers of knowledge, the main determinants of quality education has been relegated to the background and the honour hitherto accorded teachers and teaching profession has waned over over the years thereby relegating teaching to the status of a career of last resort. Teaching, more than any other job, practically touches the life of a citizen and is no doubt one of the worthwhile careers described as the oldest and noblest professions because of its capability of making a positive difference in a learner’s life.
Teaching is a complex process aimed at developing the affective, cognitive and psychomotor powers of a learner through the use of appropriate pedagogical skills to instruct and instil discipline thereby developing in the learner certain required physical or manipulative skills. The task of teaching is plainly too important, multifaceted and challenging to be left in the hands of individuals who are not well equipped and knowledgeable to help the learners acquire skills and appreciation by means of a systematic method of instruction.
Disappointingly, the teaching profession is now faced with myriad of problems, prominent among such problems include: social disconnection from the society and disregard by the society, delayed promotion, deferred payment of salaries, low emolument and lack of incentives, lack of social mobility and security.
The exodus of teaching personnel at all levels of our educational systems in search of greener pastures, especially in multinational companies, other government agencies and politics is a clear indication of the growing dissatisfaction that plagues the teaching profession in Nigeria educational system. In fact, there is probably no other profession in Nigeria today that is as undervalued as teaching. Teaching in Nigeria has become an all-comers affair where people with neither the qualifications nor the abilities find themselves as they search for something to occupy their time till something better comes along. Teachers are entrusted with the task of ensuring children’s intellectual growth and preparing each new generation to meet the challenge of the future.
One might expect that such important work would enjoy a high status, considerable respect and reward within any society, but the reverse is the case in Nigeria.The current situation in which teachers work without being paid for months in some states in Nigeria, due to the paucity of funds and other factors, is quite worrisome and constitutes a threat to the development of the teaching profession in Nigeria. To stem the tide, government should through appropriate agencies and policies enhance the status of not only teachers but also the teaching profession.
There should be a deliberate policy to make teaching as lucrative as any other job within the public sector. This would not only attract qualified personnel to teaching but also retain them on the job and ensure quality teaching.
Lack of political will and government commitment, gross under-funding, dysfunctional policy structures and systems, inadequate and dilapidated infrastructure, outdated teaching, learning and research facilities, lack of desirable attention to teacher education which have been identified as major obstacles to the development of education in Nigeria are some of the essential issues that must be addressed to improve the quality of output in the educational system and restore Nigeria’s rating among the comity of nations.
Usman writes from Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Nassarawa Eggon.