Supporting Education: When Will Our Words Match Our Actions?, By Adetola Salau

“Measure a man’s worth by his actions alone. For the devil also promises the moon!” ― Avijeet Das I read about the teachers’ strikes in America with a great amount of trepidation and anxiety in the past two weeks. Of recent, I find myself losing patience with the apathy and actions not matching our words,…”
Yusuf
April 19, 2018 3:17 pm

“Measure a man’s worth by his actions alone. For the devil also promises the moon!” ― Avijeet Das

I read about the teachers’ strikes in America with a great amount of trepidation and anxiety in the past two weeks. Of recent, I find myself losing patience with the apathy and actions not matching our words, when it comes to education and health of children. We whine a lot about changing things and desiring change. Yet, we are resigned to just complaining and not matching our desires with work.

If you want better teachers for your children, then push for more teacher development and support a revitalisation in the educational sector. What do we do instead? Someone posts about needing support for a training for teachers; and total silence. Then another posts about creating a fashion show, and there is an avalanche of folks ready to sponsor that programme.

What is baffling to me is that the need for education and training has never been greater in this era of great uncertainties. There has been so much redundancy in education and in health, with no efforts made to restore things back to how they used to be. I strongly believe that investing in education is good for all our future, and we can avert the looming disaster that is our teeming lack of skilled labour, by producing young people who are highly equipped for the future. Major European economies, such as France and Germany, are increasing investments in education. In the Middle East, Dubai, Qatar and Abu-Dhabi have also been building their human resource capital via massive funding for education, especially in the STEM fields.

The saddest thing is that the situation with our schools are worsening, as the equipment being used by most are decades old. Rusted bunsen burners and battered test tube racks are mostly seen in our laboratories. Also, old textbooks that have advanced like their content, are still being used to pass on knowledge.

Teaching losses mean that students are increasingly being taught subjects by non-specialists, especially in STEM fields because the STEM experts are wary of the horrible pay teachers make and would rather work in other fields than in education. To attract and keep bright recruits, we need more money in education.

Keeping teachers happy and motivated is a huge issue. Most schools stretch their teachers to the bone, maximising their usage of them without retraining or giving them the support that they need. It is no surprise that the teachers who choose to stay appear mostly to be working just to earn a paycheck, without their hearts in what they do for a living.

Large numbers of teachers are simply in the profession just to keep their bodies together, and their lack of passion or motivation is usually due to increasing class sizes, horrible teacher pay conditions, and horrendous workloads. We now mostly have inexperienced or non-specialist teachers working with our students.

Teaching losses mean that students are increasingly being taught subjects by non-specialists, especially in STEM fields because the STEM experts are wary of the horrible pay teachers make and would rather work in other fields than in education. To attract and keep bright recruits, we need more money in education.

I listen to folks who complain about how we can’t find good workers and how a lot of our children are barely literate but who do not support educational seminars, workshops or programmes on the television, yet are eager to sponsor entertainment programmes and their ilk; then I wonder, who is fooling who?

Adetola Salau, [email protected], an advocate of STEM education, public speaker, author, and social entrepreneur, is passionate about education reform.

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