Kwara: Teachers’ rewards no longer in heaven

For teachers in Kwara state public schools, the 2022 World Teachers Day celebration was one event that would linger in their memories as UMAR BAYO ABDULWAHB reports.

Not too long ago, Kwara state government under the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC)-led administration of Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, a fortnight ago, left a major mark in the state education sector as teachers in the state joined their counterparts acros the country to celebrate the 2022 World Teachers Day.
The day is set aside by UNESCO in line with the 1966 recommendations on the status of teachers across the world.
This year’s event was the 26th edition so far celebrated with the theme: ‘The Transformation of Education Begins With Teachers.’

For teachers in Kwara public schools, this years event is one that would no doubt linger in their memories as the state governor specially rewarded those who performed excellently in their duties.

A glorious day

From primary schools through secondary to higher institutions, outstanding teachers in their areas of disciplines walked away with their shoulders high as they made long list of awardees honoured at the event.
At the event, not less than 60 teachers drawn from every part of the state and across different stages of education got awards of excellence.

The awards came with varying expensive gifts which the governor called a token of appreciation for those who mould the future of the next generation with what he called their sweats, expertise and patience.
A breakdown of the best teachers awards saw 48 teachers from primary and secondary schools across the 16 local government areas of the state receiving awards of Best Performing Teachers in Primary, Junior Secondary and Senior Secondary Schools categories.

A teacher each from the state School for Special Needs Ilorin and Normadic Primary Schools also got awards of best performing teachers.

Also best performing lecturers from nine tertiary institutions including the Ilorin International Aviation College and International Vocational Centre, Ajase-Ipo also got awards of best performing lecturers

Gov AbdulRazaq renders stewardship

Gov AbdulRazaq, who physically joined the teachers in the celebration, callled them the centrepiece of his administration’s transformative agenda in the education sector.
In an address punctuated by applause and followed by a standing ovation in appreciation of the steady progress in the sector, the governor said, “If there is anyone that we are obliged to honour and celebrate, that is the teacher. On that note, I thank all of you for your efforts, sacrifices, and commitments.”
Speaking further, the governor said, “The theme of this year’s anniversary speaks directly to us in Kwara state. Our huge investments in the education sector are closely tied to teachers and school heads. You are the key drivers of the transformation that we seek. As we commit billions of naira to improve the learning environment, we are similarly funding the multi billion naira KwaraLEARN programme which seeks to improve the capacity of our teachers and boost learning outcomes for our children.”

As a departure from the past

Highlighting the impacts made in the education sector under his administration, the governor said, “Between 2019 and now, we have ensured prompt payment of salaries unlike before. The implementation of the minimum wage has raised the size of what we take home every month. We have similarly reduced the backlogs of promotion arrears. Training and retraining is more constant today. For those at the basic schools, we are already addressing the disparities in the salary as we recently pointed out. More would be done to address your genuine concerns,” he said.

New deal for teachers

While expressing delight that his administration has recorded a modest achievements in the hitherto neglected sector, AbdulRazaq however said his government would need to do a lot more.
“For this reason, our administration is willing to adopt the FG’s new age limit and service years for teachers once it is passed to us. Next year, we would launch an annual teachers’ award to boost the morale of classroom teachers and administrators. Similarly, we would collaborate with relevant federal government’s agencies to ease home ownership for interested teachers. Details of this are being worked out,” he added.

Doing more for humanity

While thanking the teachers for their sacrifices, Gov AbdulRazaq also urged them to do more for humanity.
“Dear teachers, I appreciate your sacrifices. I acknowledge that our plan to give the right foundation to the Kwara child can only succeed with your full buy-in. “I therefore appeal to you to continue to do your best for humanity and for our state. Posterity will be kind to you,” he said.
Giving a rare opportunity to the teachers most of whom were probably meeting the governor for the fisrt time to ventilate their minds about their impression about his administration, the governor again had a no-holds-barred interactive session with them, a session which afforded him the opportunity to know other areas where the shoes pinch them most.

The major agitation from the teachers is a call on the governor to bridge the pay gaps between teachers of junior and secondary schools in the state.

To whom much is given, much is expected

In his key note address, Professor Stephen Olajide of the Faculty of Education, University of Ilorin noted that the awards were some sort of challenges to do much more.

“It is a challenge because to whom much is given, much is expected. You would need to do more in terms of class room activities and monitoring of the students.

“You also need to help yourselves to ensure that this government continues, because if a government can give you this, next year, it would be giving you cars,” he said.

The university teacher challenged teachers in the state to justify government huge investment in education, adding that government alone cannot fund education.

He said though UNESCO had advocated that governments should allocate 25 % of their national budget to funding of the education sector, realising such, he said, might be difficult for governments because of other demands competing for the available resources.

Testimony of an administrator

The permanent secretary Ministry of Education, Mrs Mary Kemi Adeosun appreciated the governor for uniquely hosting the teachers in the state on this year’s celebration and for according their welfare a top priority at all times.

She said the awards for teachers is a reflection of the governor’s regard for teaching profession and his conviction that teachers play an important role to build the society, asking them to reciprocate the government’s kind gesture.

NUT others hail gov’t, ask for more

The state NUT chairman Comrade Oyewo Bashiru Ayinde paid glowing tributes to the governor’s commitment to the education sector, workers’ welfare and urged him to do more.
Adeshina said the awards sponsored by the governor was the first of its kind to be introduced in the World Teachers’ Day celebration in the state.

“Here in Kwara state, we are proud to assert that the administration of Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq has made some remarkable improvements in the transformation of the education sector and welfare/working conditions of our teachers as compared to what existed prior to his coming to office as governor,” Comrade Oyewo submitted.

Not yet uhuru
While acknowledging the good tidings for Kwara teachers under Gov AbduRahaman, the NUT chairman used the occasion to ask for more from the government saying it is not yet time for celebration.
“Although it is not yet uhuru, we wish to use this occasion to further encourage the state government to work extra hard in meeting the pending/unresolved demands of teachers.”