To achieve universal primary education by 2030, Nigeria needs 24.4 million more teachers at the primary school level and 44. 4million secondary school teachers, a Senior Programme Specialist on Education for UNESCO, Saidou Jallow has revealed.
Speaking in Abuja on Wednesday during celebration of World Teachers Day with the theme: ‘Valuing Teachers, Improving their Status’, Jallow noted that the statistics is what will guarantee the success of universal primary education by 2030.
He also said their status can be improved if they are provided with continued training, compensating them properly and giving them the tools they need to do their job amongst others.
But the National President of Nigeria Union of Teachers, Comrade Michael Olukoya said it would be advisable for the Federal Government to rescind its plan employ 500,000 graduates and rather recruit trained teachers.
In his speech at the event, Olukoya described the present status of teachers as deplorable, threatened that the NUT may embark on nationwide strike in two weeks time if government refuses to meet its demand.
According to Olukoya: “The NLC president and I are on the same page and it is time for us to take the bull by the horn. It is customary of us that after two weeks of celebration of World Teachers Day, we hold our meetings and we also call for situation report State by State pertaining to the demands of Nigerian teachers.
“If in two weeks time, we meet and nothing positive has happened, do not wait for any other directive, we will call out Nigerian teachers for strike.
On the status of teachers, he said: “Valuing teachers from the areas of our leaders is yet a hollow. Freedom is still very far from teaching because it has not improved. On a day like this, we cannot be deceiving ourselves following the situation of things. Teachers are only paid in percentages, teachers are denied their gratuity. Enough of complaints from our leaders, they should sit down, plan, call specialists and address the issue at the moment.
“The federal government and its relevant authorities should kindly consider the age-long demand of teachers for a raise in their retirement age from 60 to 65 years because others in polytechnics, monotechnics and universities have gotten this actualized, it is only the primary and secondary school that are left out of this qualification.
“The FG should ensure that only professionally trained and qualified persons are engaged in the proposed recruitment of 500,000 teachers in order to promote professionalism and effective service delivery in the school system.
“In this aura of change, we should learn to do the right thing at the right time. We quite appreciate that they want to give employment opportunities to teachers but we disagree with their mode.”
The Union also warned state government not to transfer primary education management to local government adding that states with such plan will witness strike action.
He said, “The NUT wishes to restate its demand that state government should appreciate and take up their constitutional responsibility of providing and maintaining primary education, including the provision of funds for payment of teachers salaries, in line with the 2002 judgment of Supreme Court of Nigeria.
“Teachers are not being paid, infrastructural facilities are nothing to write home about, and instructional materials are nowhere to be found. Any State that attempts to toil with primary education management whether through circular or any attempt to return school to local governments, we shall direct our State wing s to proceed with immediacy on a very prolonged teachers strike.”
The Union also advised the government not to relent in its efforts in the fight against terrorism and to ensure that institutions of learning especially in the North East are totally conducive and safe for effective teaching and learning.
The NUT president explained: “Teachers in the North East are the ones who wear the shoe and they know where it pinches. For the past years, our schools have been under lock and key. We thank God for peace but we are begging the federal government to provide security for our teachers because we lost a lot of our members to insurgency. So, we want security for members and our children because we don’t want a repeat of Chibok girls debacle.”
The NUT also demanded that all tiers of government should as a matter of urgency pay up all salaries owed teachers of primary and secondary schools in the federation.