Wednesday, 14 May 2014

On Teachers and their Importance to Society

My last post, on the First Day of May, was an S.O.S. Open Letter to the Kogi State Governor (I come from Kogi State, by the way, incase a few are wondering.), a call, a challenge to improve the laughable state that Education has found itself - in Kogi State and in Nigeria even, the ridicule that the concept of Teaching has become. Education is important and has become even more important in Nigeria in the face of the senseless killings and terrorism bedevilling the country at the moment. It was written by my friend and brother Ibrahim Husseini.

Today, interestingly, I saw one of my Secondary School class teachers, he used to teach Economics and he was pretty good - seasoning his class lectures with jokes, and not the normal hideous jokes that teachers are known for, pretty good jokes that earnestly put smiles on our faces, and sometimes so much smile that it was accompanied by beads of tears. When you laugh so much, you cry.

He did not remember me, I could tell. Even though after I had told him my name, he nodded and smiled, even though he said 'Oh,', even though he said 'Take care of yourself,' just before he walked away; I could tell he had absolutely no idea who I was. He had taught so many students, it was almost mentally impossible to remember each and every one of them by their faces, and especially impossible to remember me as I was not the type to bring attention to myself when I was in school.

He had tattoed knowledge in our memories from his, I will never forget the concepts: 'Demand and Supply', 'Law of Diminishing Return', 'Various Definition of Economics', 'Labour and Productivity', 'Fiscal Policy', 'GDP', 'Inflation' and so many others because of that man: he engraved them in my head, in our heads, he engraved knowledge. Took from his and added to ours.

He wore a very well starched white shirt, as if he was trying to compensate for something - the shirt had a blue collar and a blue eagle badge at one of its chest pockets, and a well ironed plain black trouser. My school was a private school and I wondered, after I watched him walk away, if he had been content, fulfilled as a  teacher. If passing knowledge to spoilt rich kids was as fulfilling as he had imagined it would be when he first took the job. I wondered how much he was paid - if it was enough to take care of his family, his wife, his kids, his relatives that may have believed that his status of 'employed' and 'city man' was enough to take care of everybody in the village not minding how much he was paid, since to them, the fact that one lived in the city and was 'employed' meant one was reeking with wealth.

Teachers should be paid well, they should not live like paupers. It is simple. They have one of the most important jobs on earth. This brings us back to the extreme usefulness of Ibrahim's Open Letter. A society that mistreats its teachers is a society that mistreats education and any society that mistreats education is evidently heading for the gutter.
My Economics teacher taught in a private school and still I did not think his salary was good enough. Only the government can change this, if the government improves the public schools and pay teachers bountifully, as they should, the private schools will have no choice but to do same.

Till next time,, Keep dreaming!

N.B: Pray For Nigeria, we are going through difficult times. It's been exactly one month that the girls from Chibok were kidnapped, they have still not been found.

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