From Lucky Barth in Abuja, Joseph Amedu in Lokoja
Few hours after the Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, reiterated their long standing demands for increase in their retirement age, increase in salary and better welfare packages, the Federal Government, as if in sympathy, announced the approval of a special salary scale for teachers across the country and the increase of the years of service from 35 to 40 years
The announcement was made by Mallam Adamu Adamu, Minister of Education, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari, at an event on Monday, October 5, 2020, to mark the World Teachers Day.
The Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, had advocated that the only solution to the percentage payment of primary school teachers salaries across the country is the immediate take over of the wages by the state governments.
The NUT blamed the inability of local government councils in most states of the federation to pay full salaries to their primary school teachers as a result of their failure to give priority to salary payment before any other financial commitment.
Chairman of the Kogi State Chapter of the Comrade Aderemi made the call on the occasion of the celebration of World Teachers Day.
He noted that in line with the financial guide to council chairmen across the 774 local government areas in Nigeria “Salaries of Teachers Must Be Paid First above any other obligations” attributing the refusal to follow the directive as responsible for the percentage payments currently being experienced by teachers.
He disclosed that the staff of local governments including primary school teachers which was seriously over bloated coupled with burdens like funding of traditional rulers commitments had worsened their responsibilities to pay full salaries as at when due.
Aderemi who described “World Teachers Day” as a day of honour and glory to the teaching profession said that the celebration was declared for every October 5th annually by UNESCO in 1994, used the occasion to plead with the Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello to as a matter of urgency fulfill his promise to facilitate 100% payment of primary school teachers like their counterparts in the state civil service in order to reduce their sufferings.
The NUT Chairman also called on the governor to consider the union’s earlier demands such as provision of adequate instrumental materials, adherence to the advise of Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) on payment of local government staff salaries, payment of outstanding promotion/annual incremental rates, payment of outstanding leave grants and training/retraining programs for teachers.
He commended members of Kogi NUT for their support, patience and perseverance even in the face of all odds to move the union forward.
According to Buhari, the implementation of the new teachers’ salary scheme was to encourage the teachers to deliver better services
He said; “Government notes the emergency situation in our educational system with particular reference to the dearth of qualified and dedicated teachers to enhance the quality of teaching and learning at all levels of our educational system.’’
“To address these challenge yes and set our country on the path of industrialization where our educational system will produce the needed skills and manpower, I have approved to the following;
‘’The reintroduction of bursary award to education students in Universities and College of Education with the assurance of automatic employment upon graduation, payment of stipends to Bachelor of Education students as well as granting them automatic employment after graduation is now a government policy.’’
“The Tertiary Education Fund (TETFUND) will now fund teaching practice in Universities and Colleges of Education, special salary scale for teachers in basic and secondary schools including provisions for rural posting allowance, science teachers allowance and peculiar allowance.
“Special teacher pension scheme to enable the teaching profession to retain its experienced talent as well as extend teachers retirement age to 65 years and teachers service years to 40, create a career path policy for the teaching profession in Nigeria and, teachers’ conversion programme and ICT training to mitigate the current dearth of qualified teachers in the school system.”
Other incentives approved by President Buhari, included to motivate the include the building of low-cost houses for teachers in rural areas, sponsorship of teachers to at least one refresher training per annum, expansion of annual Presidential teachers and schools awards to cover more categories with outstanding winners to be considered for National Awards and National Productivity Order of Merit (NPOM) awards.
Others were prompt payment of salaries and other entitlements including consideration for the first-line charge in annual budgets, timely promotion of teachers to eliminate stagnation, provision of loan facilities, free tuition and automatic admission for biological children of teachers in their respective schools to encourage and retain them in the system.
The special salary scale is for basic and secondary school teachers while the retirement age of teachers is from 60 to 65, and the number of years of service 35 to 40.