Abuja – The House of Representatives on Thursday celebrated two educationists adjudged the best Secondary School Principal and best Teacher in Nigeria in 2019, urging them not to relent in their efforts to educate the nation.
The Principal, Mr Pius Idu, from Government Senior College, Epe, and the teacher, Mrs Agnes Ilunisakin, from Oriwu Model College, Ikorodu, are both from Lagos State.
Their recognition came on the heels of the World Teachers’ Day celebration following a selection process applied by the National Union of Teachers (NUT).
Briefing journalists on the development, Hon. Babajimi Benson, from Lagos State, who had earlier sponsored a motion for their recognition by the House, said the educationists were selected by the NUT because of their unrivalled performances in their respective schools.
In the motion, the lawmaker noted that despite their contributions to the nation’s education sector, teachers in Nigeria remained the least paid.
He said: “This year’s World Teachers’ Day (WTD) or International Teachers’ Day was celebrated on October 5, 2019, with the theme, “Young Teachers: The Future of the Profession”, and was aimed at proffering ideas to attract and keep young persons in the profession.
“The celebration of teachers followed the United Nation’s Declaration in 1994 for the recognition of the World Teachers’ Day (WTD) or International Teachers’ Day to celebrate teachers around the World for their efforts towards shaping the minds of several children and the society at large even though they remain unsung heroes and heroines whose contributions to the society are underappreciated.
“The United Nations, in developing the thematic areas of concentration for the Sustainable Development Goal 4 Quality Education, recognizes the role of teachers as being key to the achievement of its Education by 2030 Agenda.
“The Federal Government, in marking the day, instituted the President’s Teachers and Schools Excellence Award to show appreciation for the immense contributions of teachers to nation-building.
“Despite the contributions of teachers to societal development, teachers in Nigeria are overworked and remain among the worst paid in the world, with poor welfare package and teaching environment.
“Currently, none of the E9 countries (Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, and Pakistan) other than Nigeria, allocates less than 20 percent of its annual budget to education.”
Lawmakers across party lines, in their contributions, commended the teachers for their outstanding performances and urged them to keep up the good work.
They included the minority leader, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, and deputy majority whip, Hon. Nkiru Onyejiocha, who asked the educationists to remain steadfast.
But, in his intervention, the House Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, thanked the teachers for their efforts and commitments, assuring them of legislative efforts towards improving allocations to the education sector.
“We thank you for your commitment to education, your students. You are high achievers. Teaching is the noblest of all professions.
“Continue with what you are doing. We wish you the best. We will make sure that the prayer of the motion, which is enhancing the budget in education, is given adequate attention,” Gbajabiamila said.
The resolution therefore urged the Federal Government to improve on the welfare and support schemes for teachers, especially in the area of training, using the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) approach in addressing education policy and curriculum choices in schools in order to improve competitiveness in science and technology development.
It also urged the government to employ more teachers to address the issue of inadequate staffing and low productivity within the education sector and also increase budgetary allocation to the education sector in the 2020 appropriation bill so as to equip teachers with the requisite training and adequate facilities in the schools.
The House mandated its Committees on Tertiary Education and Services and Basic Education and Service to ensure implementation.
It concluded debates on the 2020 Appropriation Bill laid before a joint session of the National Assembly on Tuesday.
It also adjourned plenary session till October 29 to enable committees’ oversight activities to Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government, as well as the budget defence exercise.