Good Teachers, Great Patriots
If you don’t pray for anything for this country, at least pray that we have good teacher, especially in our public primary schools. My wife tells me she remembers more of what she learnt in primary school than secondary school. Her testimony threw me into some reflections and although I truly appreciate several teachers at the various levels I have undergone, I realise that no teachers sacrificed and gave as much as the foundation teachers. The quality of Nigeria Educational System need to be upgraded. Come with me.
From 2015 to date, I have been privileged to be a teacher trainer in several NGO supported intervention workshops. The opportunity has opened my eyes to a number of stark realities pertaining public basic education. I sometimes cringe on remembering some harsh realities that stare you on the face in the basic education sector. I interacted with head teachers, teachers and even aspiring teachers (yes, aspiring teachers) in the course of these workshops. I heard and witnessed firsthand unbelievable stories, incredible realities, pathetic incidents and truly moving stories about teachers, pupils and sometimes parents I saw of instances where parents have to be begged to enroll their children to school; I saw instances where children have to be fed to come to school—examples that parents, children have to be convinced that the efforts that go into schooling do not go in vain. I heard of passionate, truly sincere and patriotic sacrifices of teachers that go unappreciated. I heard of stories where teachers contribute money from their meagre salary to hire aspiring teachers to join them. I saw how teachers contribute money to buy books, pencils and sew uniforms to pupils. I saw and heard of how teachers struggle to buy common drugs for their pupils. I heard of how head teachers lead by example– head teachers who come to school early on daily basis, head teachers who endure erratic salary receipt year in year out, head teachers and teachers who swallow all forms of harassment, and from all angles–the village people, the closer authority, the government and the attitude of the general public. I saw really brilliant fellows who have been demoralised by such harassment and actually feel ashamed to be recognised as head teachers, or school teachers, but who nonetheless could think of nothing worthier than being teachers. I came across teachers who are solely responsible for the successes of some people, teachers who pushed parents to enroll their wards, teachers who bite fingers that a home, a village, a town, a state and the nation has lost a gem to parental selfishness or poverty. I saw those who wished the country well. I encountered the true patriots, the true nation builders. after all, teachers build minds and shape thoughts, a much more important exercise than building structures and towns. Yes, I dare say that those who build minds actually do a more noble exercise than those who build structures. If nothing, those who build structures focus on the beauty of the structure and the gains from such exercise while those who build minds focus on the quality of the work they do. In other words, while the former is intentionally self-serving and showy, the latter is selfless and altruistic. In any case, I was forced to conclude that teachers at public primary schools are the most patriotic people in this country. In spite of all the public disdain for them, despite all the contemptuous treatment they suffer from authorities and the government, they still give their best to the job. In fact they go extra miles for the sake of their children.
“From 2015 to date, I have been privileged to be a teacher trainer in several NGO supported intervention workshops. The opportunity has opened my eyes to a number of stark realities pertaining public basic education.”
Of course we cry foul on the quality of our teachers each time we talk about the appalling state of education. And there is no gain saying that indeed we can do with some improvements in our classrooms. But with political will, nothing is irredeemable. Certainly it is nothing other the consequences of years of non-commitment that has taken the basic education to this level.
So, one thing that became obvious to me in the course of these exercises was the fact that wicked, unscrupulous political and public officials have short-changed the generality of people of this country for too long. Things are indeed past alarming proportions. People have lost faith even in education, most times because no instances of success around to inspire them send their children to schools. No role models to inspire them. The teachers they see around are, sadly, a lesson for them at best, and at worst a warning. They are paupers after all, living hand to mouths, like every uneducated people around. Going to higher institutions is, to most people from remote areas, and the city dwellers too, a thing of connection. Getting a job is, after strenuous battle with schools, now a world war. The environment is also neither helpful nor nourishing for entrepreneurs.
“So, one thing that became obvious to me in the course of these exercises was the fact that wicked, unscrupulous political and public officials have short-changed the generality of people of this country for too long. Things are indeed past alarming”
- Working Against the System Part I
- Working Against the System Part II
- Working Against the System Part III
All things being equal, however, one thing became clearer to me. That though not truly honoured and appreciated for the sacrifices they make, teachers seem to be fixated on the prosperity of our future. Although not rich themselves, they actually pray and hope that the future of the upcoming generation gets better. They sincerely take delight in the success of the future generations—their pupils, not in the big cars, the magnificent mansions, the big names they will gain.
Oh, poor teachers, may Allah reward you!