By Sadiq Aliyu Waziri
Teachers are lucky to have a profession considered the begetter of every profession else. This thus should make every teacher proud but has it been the case in Nigeria? Today, we have become too materialistic to recognise teachers, let alone respect them. And perhaps, the only way to make teachers’ work recognizable and respectful is to consider making the job, ahhh, lucrative. Well, this call might sound stupendous but the lack of respect for and recognition of teachers has heightened to ineffability and changing their status quo in this manner seems the only solution to salvage them and the profession.
I have often heard aged people speaking about the sort of reverence for teachers in the past. Recently, an old man told me that, in their time, if a teacher went to a carpark, even if the front seat was taken, the person would willingly leave the seat for the teacher out of respect. Teachers were not respected because of money. People significantly had respect for knowledge and morality. I will make no bones about stating that teachers and teaching have fallen from grace to grass, not because knowledge and morality are not respected but because not as money is.
Unquestionably, the world’s becoming materialistic has contributed immensely in bringing down the once revered profession. I recently have seen a clip in which a girl tells her parents about a man that wants to marry her. The father asks what the man does and the girl replies that he is a teacher. The shock expressed by the father and the two women with him, whom might be his wives, is terrifying as though she says the man kidnaps or worse. This is from a Hausa movie and shows how teachers are looked at here as movies largely reflect happenings in the contexts they are made.
Lately, the massive failure of JAMB was a great bone of contention. Many opined that the students were to blame but I have seen a few who reckoned that there were many teachers whom could fail the same examination, if they were made to write it. It is true there are many teachers today who do not deserve to teach and why is that? Awful as it may sound, the government does not care about the profession. It has not made it eye-catching with good working conditions and as a result who should teach run away from the profession and work elsewhere. Most of the pseudo teachers are there because they can’t find better jobs or it is made simple becoming a teacher.
I wouldn’t fail to say that the treatment of teachers is basically what the pseudo teacher deserves but what about a good teacher? Is this what s/he deserves too? The poor salary? The poor working conditions? The exploitation by his/her employer in the case of a private school teacher? The lack of respect by his/her employer, students and the general public? Does s/he deserve it all? The ordeals of a teacher are embedded in these questions which need a very thorough looking and response.
Why are medical doctors, engineers, etc. respected and recognized but teachers? Arguably because their professions are seen as licenses to print money. If today teaching is made lucrative, it would be the end of a teacher’s ordeals. The profession would be filled up with people who would study tirelessly hard in universities, colleges of education, and polytechnics to become teachers. Private schools owners would treat their staff humanly. A teacher would not ask his/her students their future ambitions and have none or only a few wanting to become teachers. Parents would not be badly shocked for a teacher wanting to marry their daughter. Students would not call their teachers names and society would pigeonhole teachers in the same box as doctors and engineers. The profession would not be seen as ‘mere’ anymore.