William Butler Yeats, an Irish poet, dramatist and prose writer opines that “education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire,” and teachers rightly play the role of lighting the path for others, as they are beacons of hope, imparting the right knowledge for a brighter and better society. Little wonder, there is no arguing the fact that teachers contribute immensely to the development of humanity globally; right from the basics of learning to the attainments of doctors, lawyers, journalists, pharmacists, among other professions. In order words, without teachers, the world could be void of knowledge and instructions.
Teachers are also regarded as nation builders; pillars of any society, as they spend their lives moulding destines and building careers by shaping up the students and pupils lives who are in turn the future of any nation.
The task of teaching becomes demanding; serving as loco parentis, by playing the role of a child’s parent in dealing with children from different backgrounds, characterized with different attitudes and behaviors, to ensure that the children entrusted to them turn out to be better persons.
However, it is a pity to note that teachers are not appreciated as they ought to be. In the 60s to 80s, teachers were held in high esteem, they were adorned, cherished and dreaded because they were strict, they do not tolerate laxity, and they had the support of school authorities and parents to discipline the students. These days, the role and prestige for teachers have changed as they seem to be the forgotten ones. These days, a teacher dares not discipline an erring pupil or student without the permission of the school authority or parents and that has made teachers lose the value placed on them. They are further faced with different challenges, ranging from inadequate pay, lack of model teaching methodologies, lack of professionals and low self-motivation, among others.
In some climes, responsibilities of parental are neglected and given up to teachers, who are held accountable for the wellbeing of students; this act has further made the jobs of teachers cumbersome. Yet, they still ensure that the lives entrusted to them are better and they are well equipped for the future. This is why the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1994 declared October 5th annually as World Teachers’ Day globally, in commemoration of the 1966 signing of the UNESCO/ILO agreement to celebrate and evaluate teachers welfare, challenges, achievements and then discuss the way forward.
In Bayelsa State, Governor Douye Diri, a former classroom teacher who understands the importance of capacity building for a stronger society has ensured continuous training and retraining of teachers to improve their competence.
The Governor On 26th August 2020, signed the Information Technology Development Agency Law, to ensure training of teachers on modern teaching methodologies. Since then, over 12,000 teachers have been trained on digital transformation network programmes in public and private schools across the State, as well as over 90,000 pupils on digital and computer education.
In collaboration with the Bayelsa State Education Development Trust Fund (EDTF) and the support of the State Teachers Training, Registration and Certification Board (TTRCB), teachers in primary and secondary schools are trained to improve their capacity. This is also in support of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB).
There is also the revamping of education infrastructures and building of new schools to improve learning conditions, in addition to the prompt payment of teachers’ salaries in the State.
As the world celebrate teachers, it is worthy of note that a society cannot grow beyond its education level. Therefore, the training, retraining and improvement of teachers’ welfare should be a continuous priority.
Parents and individuals alike should note that everyone is a potential teacher, therefore the grooming of children in and outside school environment should be a collective responsibility for the good of all and society.
Bayelsa State Min. of Information, Orientation and Strategy