The national president of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Audu Amba, has urged for sufficient funding and investment in public education in Nigeria. Mr. Amba made this call during an event commemorating the 2023 World Teachers Day in Abuja on Thursday.
The theme for this year’s celebration is “The teachers we need for the education we want: The global imperative to reverse the teacher shortage.”
Since its adoption in 1994, World Teachers Day has served as an observance to honor the 1996 ILO/UNESCO recommendation regarding the status of teachers. It also focuses on the rights, responsibilities, and standards of teachers’ initial preparation and further education, recruitment, and employment.
Teachers are the backbone of education, yet in many countries, they are leaving the profession they are passionate about, and fewer young people aspire to become teachers. According to UNESCO, the world needs over 69 million new teachers by 2030, and this shortage continues to grow.
Mr. Amba highlighted that the budgetary allocation to education at the national level has consistently fallen short of international benchmarks, which recommend allocating at least four to six percent of GDP and/or at least 15 to 20 percent of the national budget to education. Unfortunately, this situation is not much better in many states across the country.
“Education is a fundamental human right, and its provision is a central responsibility of the government,” Mr. Amba emphasized. “We call on all tiers of government to respect and safeguard every child’s right to quality education by providing adequate funding and investment in education. As a nation, let us stand up for public education. Let us support, value, and respect teachers who shape the future leaders of tomorrow. Let us strive to improve their pay, working conditions, and empower them to stay in their chosen profession.”
Furthermore, Mr. Amba stressed that the government must fulfill its role in enhancing access to digital tools and materials, as well as providing necessary training to help teachers thrive in their profession.
The theme of World Teachers Day also highlights one of the primary challenges facing our education system – teacher shortage. According to UNESCO, Nigeria is facing a worrisome shortage, particularly at the basic and senior secondary education levels. Reports indicate a significant number of retirements without proportional recruitment to fill the gaps. Additionally, low enrollment in education courses in tertiary institutions and teachers leaving for better opportunities are exacerbating the issue.
Mr. Amba expressed concern about the nonpayment of monthly salaries to teachers and education officers whose services have been extended under the Harmonized Teachers Retirement Age Act, 2022. This has also resulted in a lack of vacancies for directorate cadre education officers.
The NUT strongly denounces the situation where vacancies are no longer declared for education officers who are teaching in the classroom. Unity school teachers prefer to remain in the classroom and be promoted to the directorate cadre when appropriate. It is crucial to address these issues and prevent stagnation for teachers in the classroom.
Attracting and retaining young, dedicated individuals in the teaching profession will continue to be a challenge if the living and working conditions of teachers are not given due attention. While acknowledging the efforts made by the federal government to improve teacher welfare and revitalize the education sector, Mr. Amba called for the full implementation of the promises made during the 2020 World Teachers Day.
He assured that teachers are committed to the ideals of the profession and will strive to update their professional skills and knowledge.
The celebration of World Teachers Day included a march by teachers from all 36 states, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), as well as the presentation of the President’s Teachers and Schools Excellence Awards.