Stakeholders in the education sector, as well as some Nigerians, have applauded President Muhammadu Buhari for approving pay rise and extension of retirement age for teachers in the country.
As Nigerian teachers yesterday joined their counterparts worldwide to commemorate this year’s Teachers Day, President Buhari gave them a surprise package of a special salary scale.
The president also extended teachers’ retirement age to 65 years and the duration of service years from 35 to 40 years.
These, he said, were part of ongoing moves by the federal government to revitalise and reposition the teaching profession in the country by introducing what he described as “fundamental and far-reaching changes.”
Nigerian teachers over the years had been agitating for a review of their retirement and welfare packages.
Buhari who was represented by the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, at an event to commemorate 2020 World Teachers Day in Abuja yesterday said a review of teachers’ development policies had revealed huge gaps in the quantity and quality of teachers at all levels of the nation’s education system.
This year’s World Teachers Day with the theme, “Teachers: Leading In Crisis, Reimagining The Future”, seeks to draw public attention to the expanding role of teachers in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on education.
Speaking on the theme, Buhari commended the resilience of the Nigerian teachers particularly at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, imploring all members of the public to take a moment and appreciate the task of teachers who he described as true heroes in the fight against ignorance and underdevelopment.
“Without the commitment efforts, passion and dedication of our teachers, our society would not have fared well at all,” the president noted.
To address these challenges confronting teachers, the president approved the reintroduction of bursary award to education students in Universities and College of Education with the assurance of automatic employment upon graduation, payment of stipends to Bachelor of Education students as well as granting them automatic employment after graduation which he said was now a government policy.
The president stated: “The Tertiary Education Fund (TETFUND) will now fund teaching practice in Universities and Colleges of Education, special salary scale for teachers in basic and secondary schools including provisions for rural posting allowance, science teachers allowance and peculiar allowance.
“Special teacher pension scheme to enable the teaching profession to retain its experienced talent as well as extend teachers retirement age to 65 years and teachers service years to 40, create a career path policy for the teaching profession in Nigeria and, teachers conversion programme and ICT training to mitigate the current dearth of qualified teachers in the school system.”
Buhari also instructed the ministry to facilitate the implementation of the new teachers’ salary scheme, saying this will encourage the teachers in delivering better service as the future of Nigeria depends on the quality of teachers the country produces.
According to him, teachers have the power to shape and reshape the lives of young people and help learners to enhance their potential.
He continued: “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 to access. My administration has resolved that quality education of teachers in terms of engagement of continued professional development has to be given priority.
“The future of this country will be a function of quality education delivered to our children today and this depends on the quality of our teachers and the quality of our teachers depends on the motivation and their motivation depends on how happy they are doing what they are doing.
“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 bursary awards has been restored.
There will be a special pension scheme to enable the teaching profession retain its experienced talent as well as extend teachers’ retirement age to 65 years and the duration of teachers years to 40 years.”