By G9ija

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved a special salary scale for Nigerian teachers as well as increased years of service from 35 to 40.

The President made the announcement, yesterday, as the world marked World Teachers’ Day.

The declaration came as the non-teaching staff of the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), yesterday, swelled the ranks of protesting university workers by joining a 14-day nationwide warning strike declared by the Joint Action Committee (JAC) in public universities.

For years, teachers have agitated for an increase in their retirement age, welfare, and salaries.

Buhari, who was represented by the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, announced the changes in teachers’ salary scale and retirement age in Abuja at an event to mark the day.

The theme for the celebration, ‘Teachers: Leading in Crisis, Reimagining the Future,” reflects the resilience of teachers and school administrators globally amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Buhari instructed the ministry to facilitate the implementation of the new salary scheme, saying it would encourage teachers to deliver better service.

According to him, teachers have the power to shape and reshape the lives of young people and enhance their potential.

“Only great teachers can produce excellent people and students that will make the future of our country great. A positive or negative influence of a teacher on any child will have an effect on that child. Therefore, the Federal Government is ensuring quality education.”

He said his administration had resolved to ensure quality education of teachers by giving priority to continued professional development.

He emphasized that the future of the country would depend on quality education for children and that the quality of teachers would depend on motivation.

He said, “To address these challenges, my administration has approved the following for teachers and the teaching profession. That in order to attract investment in the teaching profession, the quality of the introduction of a bursary award has been restored.

“There will be a special pension scheme to enable the teaching profession to retain its experienced talents as well as extend teachers retirement age to 65 years and the duration of teaching years to 40 years.”

He added that his administration had also approved the building of low-cost housing for teachers in rural areas, sponsorship of teachers, prompt payment of salary, and timely promotion to eliminate stagnation, to motivate and restore lost glory to teachers and teaching in the country.

THE Minister of State for Education, Mr. Chukuemeka Nwajuiba, identified the teaching profession as the greatest profession in the world, which must be accorded adequate recognition and respect.

Nwajuiba noted that the picture of a Nigerian teacher in the 1960s and 1970s, which reflected discipline, needed to be replicated.

He said, “In those days, very comfortable and important figures in the society would send their children to a teacher’s house for grooming. That was the teacher then.

“Teacher’s children and those that lived with them became the crème de la crème of the society. The society sadly has tilted towards ephemeral appearances that negate the standard of teachers as role models.

“We think this should stop. Teachers deserve recognition and respect. The first step is to have qualified teachers in practice.”

To achieve the goal, he said his ministry, through the Teachers Registration Council, was making effort to withdraw unqualified teachers nationwide.

He urged individuals, states, and local government education authorities and corporate organisations to reintroduce a reward system to boost productivity in the education sector.

MEANWHILE, the Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa; and the Federal Capital Territory [FCT] Minister, Mallam Muhammad Bello, have described the teaching profession as the bedrock of nation-building, and expressed their commitment to the profession.
At an event to commemorate the event in Asaba, Okowa commended teachers for their commitment to teaching and learning in all public and private schools in the state, saying his administration placed a high premium on the welfare of teachers.

“I thank teachers in Delta for their contributions to nation-building and to the intellectual development of our children.

“We have also ensured we improve on the teaching and learning environment for our teachers and students through the provision and necessary infrastructure and materials.”

Bello said the commitment of the FCT administration was based on the fact that education is the bedrock of society and no nation desirous of progress and development could afford to ignore the sector.

“We remain committed to the development of education in all its ramifications in the FCT and we will continue to commit time and resources to ensure the sector meets up with the expectations of residents of the FCT’,” the minister stated.

He commended Ms Omoregbe Osarobo of JSS Gwagwalada, who was declared the 5th best junior public school teacher in the country.

He said her recognition was a testament to the hard work and dedication of FCT schoolteachers.

But as the celebrations went on, the strike declared by Joint Action Committee (JAC) escalated as the UNN non-teaching staff joined the protest.

JAC comprises the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and Non-academic Staff Union (NASU) in public tertiary institutions in the country.

Addressing newsmen shortly after a congress in Nsukka, the chapter Chairman, Paul Aruah, asked workers to go home until the end of the 14-day warning strike declared by the national body.

Eruah said the congress was called to explain to members why they must join the strike and warned that any member found sabotaging the action would be sanctioned.

“We have held our congress. It has started today and will end on Monday, October 19. It is just a warning strike but if at the end, the Federal Government fails to meet our demands, it might result in indefinite strike action,” he said.

Eruah said their grouse include the inconsistency in the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) in the payment of salaries of members; non-payment of earned allowance to members in spite of various memorandum of understanding between JAC and government.

Others, he said, were the government’s failure to pay arrears of national minimum wage and retirement benefits to members.