THE executive director of Education Rights Initiative, Dr Solomon Udah, has asked the Federal Government to stop paying lip service to the education sector, especially the teaching profession, which he noted has suffered neglect overtime.
Dr Udah, while reacting to the speech made by President Bola Tinubu last week during the commemoration of the 2023 World Teachers Day, said the speech was not different from the same “old empty promises”, which were never backed by action.
Speaking in an interview with the Nigerian Tribune on Monday in Abuja, he insisted that teachers in Nigeria deserve a living wage, in view of the critical role they play in nation-building, saying there is virtually no enlightened individual either in authority or in the society that had not been taught by teachers and wondered why such an important group of people could be so ill-treated.
Udah noted that Nigerians had expected President Tinubu to use the occasion of the 2023 World Teachers Day to officially announce the percentage of the new salary structure the Federal Government would be willing to pay and its take-off date so as to enable state governments to follow suit.
While stressing that government is a continuum, he maintained that President Tinubu’s silence on the issue of new salary structure for teachers was not good enough, saying the hope and expectation of teachers were dashed by the president.
“But what did we get? It was the same old empty promises. We did not hear anything about what percentage teachers are going to receive as their new salary structure or the take-off date.
“The administration led by former President Muhammadu Buhari said the newly approved Teacher Salary Structure (TSS) would commence in January 2022.
“Now, 2023 is almost gone and nothing concrete has been put in place to actualise that. Even no mention was made of it by the president in his speech that was delivered by Vice-President Kashim Shettima at the World Teachers Day,” he side.
It was gathered that the new salary structure is expected to make the least paid teacher in the public service to earn between N150,000 and N300,00 monthly as against the current salary of about N49,000.
Buhari led-administration had, in a bid to address the decadence in the education sector as it affects the quality of learning and welfare of teachers, approved a special TSS during the commemoration of the World Teachers Day in October 2020.
He also approved a special pension scheme to enable the teaching profession to retain its experienced talents, just as he extended teachers’ retirement age to 65 years and their duration of service from 35 to 40 years, all in a bid to attract the best brains and improve the sector.
The national president of the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), Comrade Audi Titus Amba, however, stated that out of all the welfare packages promised by the last administration, only the extension of teachers’ retirement age to 65 years and duration of service from 35 to 40 years had been implemented by the Federal Government and 14 states.
“We, however, observe with great concern that three years after, the approved incentives for teachers are largely unaddressed,” he noted.
He then called on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to activate the Teacher Policy Reforms of the past administration by ensuring the full implementation of the ‘Teacher Incentives’ that was approved in 2020.
SOURCE : NIGERIAN TRIBUNE