Teaching has always been described as a honourable profession from ancient times. The role of a teacher is to build another person’s knowledge and character by passing down useful information to them (students). Nigeria as a whole do not give much value to their teachers, as it is being shown by how low they are being paid and how poorly they are being treated.
The average annual pay for a high school teacher (secondary school teacher) in the U.S is $39,000 per annum which translates to #17,940,000 naira with current exchange rates while in Nigeria. The average monthly pay in Nigeria is around #20,000 to 30,000, which is not up to half a million naira per year. This means it would take a Nigerian teacher up to 40 years to make what a teacher in the U.S makes in one calendar year.
This wide difference is appalling and very disturbing as it shows just how much we value teachers in Nigeria. Job security is also nonexistent for teachers in private schools as you can be fired at anytime. Government school teachers have it better in this respect, but the pay is not that palatable still, as those who are few months or years into the job are not paid up to 700,000 naira per annum. These are rough estimates but I guess it clearly shows how bad it really is to have to teach in Nigeria, especially when you have a family to cater for.
Teachers in private schools are also overworked even as they are underpaid. A single teacher would have to handle two to three subjects and would end up having to move from class to class throughout the day in order to cover the classes heor she has to handle in one day. Imagine one teacher having to teach mathematics, physics and further mathematics all on his own. That teacher would have to write lesson notes, teach, give and mark classwork, assignments, set examination questions and then mark the scripts and record in their report sheets.
The Oyo State Government under the leadership of governor Oluseyi Makinde advertised openings for employment last year February. The job openings were meant for teachers who would like to teach in government secondary schools and 5,000 teaching staff with 2,000 non teaching staffs were to be employed. Over 60,000 graduates from various institutions applied for the jobs and about 10,000 people passed the tests.
Interviews were held later on and as of November last year, the list of successful candidates to be employed was released. January 2021 is almost over and that makes it a year since those people applied for the jobs but they are yet to resume and have not even been given employment or posting letters. The successful applicants have been left in a limbo for months and their employers are picking them out and sacking them from their places of current employment. This is mostly true for those working in private schools that have been successful in getting selected for the job.
This is another example of what anyone who decides to be a teacher in Nigeria faces and it is really sad and heartbreaking just thinking about what they go through just to survive. During the period of lockdown in year 2020 which lasted for months, a lot of teachers were not paid for up to five or seven months by their employers. Many had to resort to begging for handouts from friends and family before they can eat.
We all saw a couple online pleading with strangers on social media just to get something to eat, even with the rising cost of food and shutdown of activities which prevented them from getting a side job to fend for their most basic needs. This has continued this year as many states have not given the go-ahead for schools to resume, and that means millions of teachers in private employment will not be paid for January as they are being paid for the number of days they work.
Their payment should be called wages and not salary, because some employers will even deduct from their pay if they have any pressing personal matter to attend to or they fall ill and have to miss work for a few days. Long holidays are also an issue, as most private schools will not pay their teachers for those weeks even though they are still under their employers and are not at fault. It really is a sad fate for those in this noble profession who have to live from hand to mouth and suffer horrible maltreatment from their employers as regards their pay and working conditions.
Nigeria needs to give more value, importance, and care to its teachers, especially those in private schools or the educational system would crumble and become worse than it currently is. If you know a teacher around you, please try to help out with whatever you can. It is also advisable as a private school teacher to find alternative means of making a second income because, as they say, “heaven helps those who help themselves”.