Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq on Wednesday joined the global community to celebrate teachers, calling them the centrepiece of his administration’s transformative agenda in the education sector and reassuring them of the government’s continuous commitment to their welfare — including addressing all pending issues in phases.
At a state government event celebrating World Teachers Day in Ilorin, the state capital, no fewer than 61 teachers — drawn from every part of the state and across different stages of education — got awards of excellence.
The awards came with varying expensive gifts, which the governor called a token of appreciation for those who mould the future of the next generation with their sweat, expertise and patience.
In an address punctuated by applause and followed by a standing ovation in appreciation of the steady progress in the sector, the governor said: “If there is anyone that we are obliged to honour and celebrate, that is the teacher. On that note, I thank all of you for your efforts, sacrifices and commitments.
“The World Teachers’ Day is the idea of UNESCO in line with the 1966 Recommendations on the Status of Teachers across the world.
“The theme of this year’s anniversary speaks directly to us in Kwara State. Our huge investments in the education sector are closely tied to teachers and school heads. You are the key drivers of the transformation that we seek. As we commit billions of naira to improve the learning environment, we are similarly funding the multibillion naira KwaraLEARN programme which seeks to improve the capacity of our teachers and boost learning outcomes for our children.
“Between 2019 and now, we have ensured prompt payment of salaries — unlike before. The implementation of the minimum wage has raised the size of what we take home every month. We have similarly reduced the backlogs of promotion arrears. Training and retraining is more constant today. For those at the basic schools, we are already addressing the disparities in the salary as we recently pointed out. More will be done to address your genuine concerns.
“But we need to do a lot more. For this reason, our administration is willing to adopt the FG’s new age limit and service years for teachers once it is passed to us. Next year, we will launch an annual teachers’ award to boost the morale of classroom teachers and administrators. Similarly, we will collaborate with relevant federal government’s agencies to ease home ownership for interested teachers. Details of this are being worked out.
“Dear teachers, I appreciate your sacrifices. I acknowledge that our plan to give the right foundation to the Kwara child can only succeed with your full buy-in. I therefore appeal to you to continue to do your best for humanity and for our state. Posterity will be kind to you.”
The governor had a no-holds-barred interactive session with teachers, where the latter commended his strides in the sector and urged him to bridge the pay gaps between teachers of junior and secondary schools in the state.
NUT Chairman, Mr. Oyewo Bashiru Ayinde, paid glowing tributes to the governor’s commitment to the education sector, workers’ welfare and urged him to do more.
“Here in Kwara State, we are proud to assert that the administration of Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq has made some remarkable improvements in the transformation of the education sector and welfare/working conditions of our teachers, as compared to what existed prior to his coming to office as governor,” according to Oyewo.
“Although it is not yet uhuru, we wish to use this occasion to further encourage the state government to work extra hard in meeting the pending/unresolved demands of teachers.”
Prof. Billy Olajide, a university teacher, in a keynote address at the event, commended the sacrifices of the teachers, urging them to come together, work very hard and justify the huge funds going into the education sector.
“Teachers should come together; teachers should work very hard and justify huge funds going into the education sector so that the government can listen to us. We thank God we have a listening governor. He has demonstrated it here today and hope you will justify it,” he said.
“Today, the teaching profession is more elegant and appealing but there’s a problem because teachers are not united.”