So many have made the bold claim that “Teaching is the most important profession”, as teachers embark on a never ending mission to impart their knowledge and build a child’s confidence in his or her abilities. Teachers are leaders that take on new roles to improve education.The stronger the state of teaching is, the more students benefit with increased engagement and achievement.
Now I wish that were the case when it comes to teaching in Nigeria.That sense of responsibility is felt by very few teachers, as majority have been made to accept that the profession they were groomed for, is undervalued. Everyone knows that the salaries & remunerations paid to Nigerian teachers are extremely low (if at all paid on time), and the opportunities for growth through teacher training are available to a lucky few, but not always consistent.
That last point causes a decline in teaching quality, a shift in teachers’ attitude to work and in turn affects student learning. One observer wrote in the National newspaper how “the pupils only get a fair teaching attention when examinations are approaching and where they needed to cover most of the syllabus”.
When teachers are faced with challenges–zero pay, little or no mentoring, or even on-the-job coaching to improve their skills–they will leave. Schools should be concerned and do something about it because even the most effective teachers with the highest level of qualification, need incentives to make them stay.Studies on teacher retention suggest that more than 40 %of of all teachers leave the profession within their first five years, and that high-poverty, high-minority public schools have even higher rates of turnover.
(Side note: These are facts that have unfortunately, become the norm in Nigeria’s educational sphere. These points are in no way meant to disparage our government’s efforts to improve education!)
So how can you make your teachers stay put?
Better pay: This is a no brainer. Higher salaries motivate teachers and improve their attitude & overall well-being enough to make them perform effectively. I’ve mentioned this before in one of my posts, the Teacher Salary Scale (TSS) needs to be reviewed and the allowances it includes, needs to be increased.I agree with OECD’s recommendation to replace the system of single salary scales by more flexible salary scales which take into account teacher recruitment difficulties.
Even low-cost private schools, built to provide better quality education to low income families, grapple with high teacher turnover and have to find ways to cut costs in other areas so they can pay to keep the qualified ones.
Professional development: Schools should invest in growth opportunities that will equip their teachers with knowledge and teaching skills that can provide relevant guidance.
Moreover, such skills can promote effective practice and support improvement to deliver the best possible instruction to every child.
More innovative initiatives suggest that giving teachers opportunities like leading professional development or serving as a teacher coach, or policy-oriented (being involved in a task force or advisory group) makes them feel more valued for their individual contributions.
Teaching conditions: Good infrastructure & facilities in a school creates a positive environment for teaching and boosts most teachers’ moods. I won’t be going too much into that but rather suggest schools provide flexible working conditions by increasing opportunities for part-time teaching as well as sabbatical leave, extended leave without pay and job exchanges within the industry.