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World Teachers' Day: What does it mean to celebrate the Nigerian teachers?



Just yesterday the 5th of October 2019, teachers were celebrated the world over.

And I want to join everybody in wishing them a happy teachers' day in arrears.

Interestingly, my father and his twin brother were first and foremost teachers; and my father, especially, for almost all through his life.

They were fine gentlemen in whom no deceits were found. And they were proudly the saving baskets of Yoruba culture and traditions. I'm a living testimony.

While his twin brother later veered into a non-teaching profession, he stayed.

The rest, like they use to say, is history worthy of a recall by every line as regards their professional conduct as teachers.

What became of him like his contemporaries, however, compared to people of other professions is quite interesting but beyond the scope of this write-up.

Of course, it cannot be completely lost to the realm of your guesses if you're a Nigerian and are familiar with the popular saying that ' teachers rewards are in heaven.'

But then, they never complained of anything. Instead, all they exude is joy doing what they love.

The other thing I remembered my dad did was becoming a magistrate after retirement.

So, it is glaring that I'm from a lineage of teachers. And I'm very proud of them both not just for being teachers alone but being fathers, indeed.

File image of a teacher and a school student.  [Credit] Pulse Ng.

And if I'm to come back into this world, I'd very much love to come through them.

Even If I'm to reincarnate in the next world as an antelope, I'd definitely love to graze on their pastures.  For evergreens are their memorials on my mind and those of my siblings.

But then I'm tempted to ask 'why should we celebrate the teachers'? Why should we celebrate them? Why?

I ask this question not necessarily out of spite or lack of appreciation for their persons and what they do. I surely do in all honesty.

If for anything but that my own parents were teachers during their lifetime.

But I'm just being curious. And it's not just about them alone. It is about every profession and professional out there in Nigeria.

I just feel it's rather superfluous, and more so not for the right reasons.

Before you crucify me, won't you just hold your breath and your tongues until you hear me out?

And the end of the day, you might just want to transpose what my musings would be all about after reading through this post to other professions and professionals.

And I would be going in the direction of Socrates, one of the wisest and maybe weirdest men to ever live.

He was considered an unnecessary intellectual evil, detested and murdered for his spirit of inquiry by the state of Greek forced to drink poison.

If you don't yet know, he doesn't believe any professional should be praised or celebrate if you like. You might think he hated professionals, far from it.

And his reasons are quite not so odd but valid when viewed shun of the usual human biases and sentiments.

It was Socrates' belief and one which he vigorously espoused that professionals have no choice than to be up and doing with regards to their jobs.

Accordingly, he said praising professionals for their commitment to their jobs or sources of livelihood amounts to unnecessarily patronizing them.

To do otherwise than being professional and thoroughgoing is courting hunger and lack which no one likes. He argues.

Students at a school in Nigeria.  

So, that's the foundation of my thinking.  But I'm by no means restricted on this very matter.

Fine, teachers are being celebrated today. They're a most worthy set of professionals to be celebrated.

The similar way people of other professions too would be celebrated some other time. It's a merry go round. It's a ritual we all look forward to reveling in.

But why are they being celebrated? That's the question that should bother us, especially, as Nigerians.

Of course, it's a fact they're strategically positioned at a great intersection of our life.

One way or the other, we all have encountered the direct mentoring of teachers in the process of becoming whatever we are today - doctors, engineers, pilots, name it.

While like Socrates, I too don't subscribe to celebrating any profession or professional because being on a giving job is a function of choice borne out of existential necessity.

No one can do otherwise. Absolutely no one! It's a fact or reality cuts in stone.

They are there not because they hope that one day they would be celebrated rather because it puts food on their table, clothes on their bodies, shelters on their heads, and helping them to meet myriads of other existential needs.

But then like an adage in Yoruba which says - Yinni Yinni keni le shemi. When translated it means 'the praise of one good deed leads to more of such'. You can say it again that it comes with gnomic correctness.

If a day is set aside for the celebration of a group of people like it is for teachers a few days ago, it must be to spur them to do more.

And how can they do more in our circumstances?

It's by making their job a lot easier and more rewarding so others are motivated to enlist since we all seem to be in agreement that they're occupying such an important place in our life.

As we speak across the country, many of the serving teachers, especially, in the public sector are owed several months of salaries and other benefits, and the retired ones, gratuity, and pensions.

The schools where they are teaching are fast sliding into a sorry state for lack of proper and sustained maintenance.

The privately own schools are over-glorified, many pay their teachers poorly, and random mistreatment and sacking of members of the teaching staff are regularly reported.

The owners, proprietors, and the proprietresses who see the venture as strictly business without any core corporate social responsibility to deliver are not left out of the unchecked depleting assaults.

The song on their lips nowadays is 'if you think education is expensive, try ignorance' to justify the need for incessant increases in tuition fees and other sundry charges as if education must be expensive to be qualitative.

Acts of sacrificing the teachers on the altar of whims and caprices of wealthy parents who doubled as the school's patrons and matrons are rampant.

And as such celebrating the teachers likewise our military personnel, medical officials, name it without corresponding actions at mitigating the existing desperate situations is nothing but fraud and amounts to paying lip service to the importance of their existence and unnecessarily patronizing them.


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