T HE World Teachers’ Day on October 5 every year is always significant as it falls to the time Nigeria marks its independence anniversary of October 1. October 5 every year is set aside worldwide by the United Nations to look more closely into the role of teachers in the world communities, so as to be able to assess and appreciate their contributions to the education of the learners in the quest to prepare them for the future.
In doing this, the work of the teacher, to put under scrutiny, is an onerous task in that it involves the molding of the lives of the learners and equipping the latter with the skills and knowledge they will need in future to be able to live independent and useful lives within the community.
The purpose of a child for coming to school is to learn, specifically with the help of the teacher within the school system. The expectation of the child, the parents and the proprietors of schools are very high on teachers. So after the child, as the stronger stakeholder, the teacher comes next, while others like the parents, proprietors and the school community follow.
To appreciate the need for setting a day aside for teachers, we have to beam a searchlight to know who a good teacher is and what he has to do to be effective in the school setting. Succinctly put, who is a good teacher?
Before proffering an answer to the question above, one will have to recall that the mention and position of a teacher in present day Nigeria is controversial as it is full of melancholy. Too many people, a teacher should be an embodiment of undiluted character – morally upright, socially acceptable but detached from the social malaise of the society; one who should be the builder of a nation without necessarily hoping for the greatest reward the responsibility demands. On the other hand, the teacher sees himself, and correctly too, as an ordinary citizen pursuing a lawful career to earn a living.
Who then are the teachers to be celebrated on World Teachers’ Day? They are teachers who possess special qualities in order to bring up the learners and effect a complete development in the lives of such learners and, by extension, the society. It is no more than this, and anyone who is not prepared to do this cannot be called a teacher. This, therefore, presupposes that teaching should be a vocation as well as a call that should be based not on the material reward alone. Nowadays, with the denial of fringe benefits and inducements, as well as delay in payment of salaries, teachers in Nigeria are the worse-off in the society. Though it is my considered opinion that the teachers we should celebrate on World Teachers’ Day are those who possess special qualities that would distinguish them even as the majority of the society is in a fuss. The Nigerian teacher, like their counterparts across the globe, has the special physical qualities teachers should have, which include neatness – inward and outward, and charming personality. He has special academic qualities – he is the master of his subjects. The last but not the least, he possesses moral qualities and discipline – setting example by obeying his instruction himself.
Even though the job of a teacher is purely humanitarian, it is a leadership vocation and that is why special qualities become a must for every good teacher. So celebrating World Teachers’ Day in Nigeria, one expects that various associations of teachers like ASSU, NUT, ANCOPSS and COHPSON look inward and identify some teachers with sterling and special qualities and encourage them by according them recognition.
- Chief Folaranmi Ogundiran,