A segment of Education stakeholders in the Northwest have identified poor pay-packet of primary school teachers as the key factor responsible for the decline in quality of education.
They told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that apart from ascribing ‘low status’ to teachers, the poor renumeration had scared away quality personnel from taking to the teaching profession in primary schools.
The stakeholders noted that teaching in primary schools had become a ‘last option’ to most people, who often discharged their duties with divided attention as they continued to scout for other options.
The respondents therefore warned that that unless teaching in primary schools was made lucrative enough through enhanced renumeration, the search for a solid foundation for the country’s education system would remain a wild goose chase.
Mr Ibrahim Dalhatu, Kaduna State Chairman, Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), described as pathetic, the token being paid teachers, saying apart from the package being very poor, there was always delay in payment of the meagre amount.
He said that a newly recruited teacher with a National Certificate of Education were paid between 37,000 and 38,000 a month, while those with university degrees received between N45,000 and 46,000.
According to him, providing school infrastructure without reasonable renumeration for teachers is like moving ‘one step forward and two steps backward’.
Also, Mr Tijjani Aliyu, Citizens Co-chair, Kaduna Basic Education Accountability Mechanism, lamented the poor renumeration, which he said was responsible for poor performance and declining productivity in primary schools.
“It is also worrisome that primary school teachers are being promoted but without corresponding increase in salary”, he said.
A primary school teacher in Kaduna who spoke on condition of anonymity, told NAN that after spending about 13 years in the service, his salary was paltry N40,000 per month.
According to him, the poor enumeration is responsible for the exodus of teachers from the primary to secondary schools.
“Not only is the salary in primary schools very poor, it is also not being paid on time; most times, the salary is spent on settlement of debts.
“As I am talking to you now, some of us have not received our June and July salaries, and August is gone already.
“Not only that, over N19,000 is being deducted from our meagre salary every month for over a year now, and it is not reflected in our payslip,” he said.
However, Mrs Hauwa Mohammed, Public Relation Officer, Kaduna State Universal Basic Education Board (Kaduna SUBEB), explained that the board never delayed payment or tolerated unlawful deductions.
Mohammed said payment of salaries of primary school teachers and all Local Government Education Authorities employees, was the sole responsibility of Local Government Councils.
In Sokoto, Malam Bello Abdullahi, a retired primary school teacher, said poor renumeration of primary school teachers had been an issue of great concern for a long period.
“I was a teacher and I know how difficult it is when you wake up in the morning and there is nothing for the family to eat; one will and cannot even concentrate to give his or her best to the pupils or students,” he said.
Malam Abdullahi El-Kurebe, a public analyst, also said the pay- package of teachers was not encouraging.
“You think of employing a labourer to work in your farm and the renumeration is not good enough to give him strength. What do you expect?
“You are going to have poor performance in the farm; same when you have teachers with poor renumeration; both quality and quantity of output will definitely suffer,” he said.
He reminded the authorities that primary school teachers were people who laid the foundation for future, through the grooming of leaders of tomorrow.
“Good renumeration is the only ingredient that will motivate primary school teachers to perform optimally in order for us to have quality education that is lacking today,” he said.
In Zamfara, stakeholders also concurred that poor remuneration had affected primary education in the state.
Abdul’aziz Auwal, a teacher, described the condition of primary teachers in the state as worrisome, saying that poor salary had discouraged qualified persons from accepting to teach.
Dr Abubakar Dogo, State Chairman, School Based Management Committees (SBMCs) said that primary education, as pillar of educational development, must be given priority by government at all levels.
“At SBMC level, we are advocating for community based support to education.
considering that government alone cannot handle effectively, the entire education sector.
“We believe that there must be the involvement of all stakeholders and this is the major area where the SBMC participates”, Dr Dogo explained.
Meanwhile, the Executive Chairman, State Primary Education Board (SUBEB), Alhaji Abubakar Aliyu, said government promoted over 6, 000 teachers as part of efforts to boost their morale.
“ Welfare of teachers is one of the major priority areas of present administration in the state under Gov. Bello Matawalle.
“When Matawalle assumed office as governor, primary school teachers had spent over 10 years without promotion and the governor directed that all teachers should be promoted to their deserving levels.
“His directive was effected immediately and all the teachers were paid their accumulated promotion arrears”, he added.
In Kano, an Educationist, Dr. Aliyu Abdulsalam, urged the state governments to intensify efforts at enhancing salary of teachers to boost education at the grassroots.
He also urged the governments to address the issue of training and promotion of teachers, and other matters relating to welfare.
He stated that many people were rejecting teaching appointment because of poor renumeration.
Meanwhile, the Director, Public Enlightenment, Kano State Ministry of Education, Alhaji Aliyu Yusuf, said that the government had constituted a 13-member committee for the
implementation of “Career Path Policy and Presidential Approvals for Teachers” in the state.
He said that the committee was to identify critical issues responsible for low morale of teachers, especially those in the state civil service.
The committee is also mandated to be compiling an updated data bank of teachers, as well as promoting and encouraging digital teaching and learning in the state.
Some Parents in Katsina State also attributed the falling standard of primary education to poor renumeration of teachers, among other factors.
A respondent, Malam Isiyaka Khaliel, said that unless government rose up to the challenges bedeviling primary school education, public primary schools would collapse gradually.
A parent, Alhaji Sadeeq Lawal, said poor renumeration had reflected on the standard of teaching, resulting in pupils carrying over such deficiencies to secondary and tertiary institutions.
In conclusion, the stakeholders were unanimous over the need for pay-packet of primary school teachers to be enhanced in the overall interest of the education sector.
As some of them put it, the age-long talk of “the reward of teachers being in heaven” had long become colloquial. (NAN)