I grew up to know the dictum only to be accruable to teachers. It was then like other professions were not enviable or that teaching was, and indeed it was a sine qua non for other professions to exist. To have coined the phrase “Teaching Is A Noble Profession” would not then have been a mistake afterall.
The accountants, the doctors, the astronauts, the engineers and all other professionals derived their prowess through the efforts of the teachers. Teaching is like a chit that enables one get to the pinnacle of greatness. It epitomizes honour and dignity. The fact that teaching as a profession did not bring with it flambouyant wealth accumulation never removed it from the realm of fancy. It was indeed noble.
The general impression people had about teaching accorded the actors within the realm great respect and high esteem. The parents then, terrified recalcitrant children with the larger than life statuses of their teachers. A mere mention of a teacher made them dread and left them with no option than to comply unquestionably with the parents’ whims and caprices. Such intransigence like late coming and other vices identifiable with students of our age were not rife. The fear for teachers’ wrath instilled discipline and social values because societal recognition for them and their worth was total and unflinching. The satisfaction derivable by teachers from their attributes encouraged them to flow with the belief that “teachers reward is in heaven.” And they were getting results that contributed immensely to societal growth, stability and cultural dynamics. No wealth, yet no shame and life went on unperturbed.
CIVILIZATION has begun to take its toll on all aspects of our lives, including teaching profession. The intrinsic values of humility and decorum have virtually faded from the psyche of an average Nigerian irrespective of occupation and status. Successive governments in Nigeria have failed to gain currency with the fact that there is nothing on earth that is static, so they failed to be proactive about events and developments that in one way or the other have universal repercussion on the structure and operational modalities.
Evolution dynamics, if properly managed would have assisted in the area of future projection such that the problem of archaism would not have arisen. When the general clamour for preferential treatment for professionals like doctors, architects, engineers and so forth began, the bureaucrats would have considered the plight of the teachers alongside theirs. Even with the advent of democratic governance, teachers would not have fared worse. That was responsible for the emancipation warfare being waged by our didactic compatriots. And the passion and tenacity of the warfare have been subtle. That is why there have not been hews and cries but the devastating effects of the cold war have started infesting our structure. Waning of patriotic zeal marked the beginning of the collapse. “Dyfunctional fate is personally rehabilitated,” so goes the saying.
In the efforts towards the rehabilitation however, some level of malfeasance is involved; Oh sorry!, may be involved. That accounts for the deviation our didactic compatriots adopted in the process of emancipation. Rather than die a pauper, it is better to cut corners or using the language that is common in students’ parlance; it is better to shunt. If the black pot that produces white pap is not accorded its rightful place, the pot has the two options of either remaining in debilitating servitude or to engage in a process that leads to personal liberty. The latter is what the teachers chose and so they started looking elsewhere for economic freedom.
If graduates that passed through a teacher a few years ago have now become people who are hero-worshipped, I personally don’t see the rationale for the teachers to remain complacent. Long before despondency set in, they ought to have put two and two together to get to a destination of economic reprieve. So the efforts of late, though belated may be seen as a rational one. If not by all, at least it should be so seen by the dependants and close relatives who derive positively from the latest ingenuity – THE REVOLUTION OF PRIVATE BUSINESS AND MONEY SPINNING.
I bear no grudge with this revolution. My main concern is the negative effect it has on the fates of millions of nursery, primary and secondary pupils and students who are seen as the future generation. The slackness of devotion has been detected by the victims and so this, together with other manifestations of moral degeneration identifiable with the JET AGE have eroded the invincibility of the teachers. Teachers started resorting to examination hall teaching because the external questions that are brought have no similarities with the contents of class work. The variance, at the same time, portends mass failure because knowledge is acquired through efforts accompanying burning of late night candles which effect is made to impact in the day light learning rendezvous. If the teachers are magnanimous enough to do this (as many still do till date), the process of deculturation has removed hardwork mentality from the consciousness of our youth. They branded the industrious teachers as OLD SCHOOL, SHOEMEY; and other derogatory names are known to the affected.
THE children are not from the blue. They are born and bred in our known environment and so we (you and I) have our portions of the blame. I have seen parents who followed their wards to school to scold the teachers right in front of their children. That is the root of deviant behaviour that is preponderant in our society today. The parent is simply telling the child to disrespect and disregard constituted authority most especially the all important influence that a teacher wields over the student. The result is that if the teacher teaches as a matter of duty, the required blessing from the teacher leaves a vacuum in the life of the student and the law of nature is contravened.
Our government even makes the matter worse. In all natural endeavours, there is progressional law that influences the operations within the system. Our government (at least I know what operates in Osun) has no regard for the teachers to the extent that low level civil servants are appointed as inspectors (LIE, ZIE etc) over their senior counterparts in the teaching profession. We are in a dispensation when a grade levels 12 or 13 officer is appointed as an inspector over schools where there are grade level 15, 16 or 17 officers as head teachers or principals. What a slight! I have heard of a situation where a grade level 12 inspector went to the assembly during morning devotion to openly rebuke the school’s principal of grade level 16 in the presence of all the students that were present. Oh! what a shame! What then are we inculcating in our future generation?
SO many schools are operating with belated running grants. These grants, most of the times are slashed indiscriminately by the line officers and when this is not done, other avenues are sought to ensure that what is due is not available in totality. They either impose some dues or deduct from source. The schools in the state are operating at variance with their counterparts in the neighbouring states. The take-off grants meant for all the junior secondary schools in Osun have not been released till now whereas investigation has shown that the federal government has released same to the state government. (The money has since been returned to UBEC after it has been misappropriated.) Our teachers are generally demoralized and the situation needs be salvaged.
In my own perspective, the teachers have their own portion of the blame. They need to build up their charity with all diligence so that the position of a permanent secretary that has been taken away from them will return to them among other things. They should not lend themselves out again as cheap instruments for electoral rigging and other malpractices. They should be proud of their profession and stand up to fight for their rights, as no president, governor, doctor, astronaut or any other professionals would have been, without the efforts of a teacher. Be professional in your daily dealings and your nobility will be restored. The ongoing revolution has earned you some relieves which have saved you from economic embarrassment, but be mindful of the fact that your heavenly rewards must not be jettisoned.
The government on its side should save the future generation by living up to its responsibility. Plug all loopholes to degeneration and make us proud of our teachers once again. At the same time, we will have a secured generation for the future – ANCOPSS, COPSHON, NUT, RELEVANT MINISTRIES AND PARENTS, please take note.
By Ajani Samuel