By Muhammad Abideen, Lagos

IN our secondary school days as students, we loved talking about what we want to be in the future. Most students usually would tell you they want to be doctors, lawyers, accountants among other highly revered and handsomely paying jobs but no one ever wished to become a teacher, for the obvious reason – Teachers are not handsomely paid, and as such, not highly revered in the society.

Few students who occasionally do align with teaching are usually from teaching parents – already captivated by the privileges they enjoy. In fact, wishing someone to become a teacher is viewed as a curse, and saying amen to such prayer becomes herculean.

But come to think of it, teaching is a very interesting field. The truth is that the teachers of today were once an open enemy of teaching. They never wanted to teach; one reason or the other led them to teaching. Why then do they embrace the not too fascinating profession they once sworn never to venture into.

It is therefore crystal clear that the hatred and wrong notion against the teaching profession was/is inadvertently wrongly implanted in the heart of every student.

Why Teaching is hated? Some are of the belief that a major reason for attending schools is to banish poverty, because education gives access to wealth. However, this belief may be erroneous after all. In as much as we seek education for professional qualifications and riches, then the question that must be asked is: why are teachers (who get others educated) not always very bouyant? And why are they not always very stupendously rich like other civil or public servants?

In as much as the society may be blameworthy for not according teachers due regard, many so called educators too, especially male teachers do not help matters with their unprofessional conducts – sexually harassing their students. Teachers of today, rather than being exemplary,  take bribes from students, indulge in examination malpractices, threaten students with failures and above all, receive salaries without delivering in their primary responsibility.

Consequently, upright students are always at logger-heads with such corrupt ‘educators’ with much hatred built up in their mind.

Teaching not fascinating!
Aside from educational degrees like Dr (Ph.D) and attainment of professorship title, while many career persons and professionals bear revered titles as: Doctor, Engineer, Surveyor, Architect, Barrister and so on, an average teacher merely bears Mr or Mrs. This, to many is not dignifying enough.

This title-less nature of teaching naturally distant students from the profession – just as nobody wants to be called a farmer. To them, the title teacher or farmer looks disgusting.

In fact, some women prefer to be addressed as full housewives rather than be addressed as a teacher. At a village gathering or family meetings, parents exhibit pride in introducing their children with their professional titles; such as ‘my son is a lawyer, a doctor or an accountant but they rarely could proudly identify with their child who is a teacher. What a victim of circumstance!

Why so much hatred for teaching?
It is difficult to say categorically where the hatred stemmed from but what is clear is that teaching is not regarded as a profession of first choice, particularly at primary and secondary school levels.

Teaching is however an interesting profession if well treated.
The same reservation made some to tag themselves as conditional teachers – those who believe they are simply teaching for teaching sake and not out of willingness or keen interest. They plan to leave teaching either sooner or later. The implication of this mind-set is that the teachers will neither put in his best nor better himself by improving his professional skills.

The government’s take:
Yes, the government take a large chunk of the blame as the major cause of this wrong notion. This is typified by meagre budgetary allocation and total neglect of educational infrastructure.
Despite the scarcity of professionals in education field, our government has never seen it as a challenge to remedy the situation. They view standardising of learning centres as a sheer waste of resources. Their usual cliche is: whoever will learn will learn and vice versa. They are less concerned as far as their children school abroad.

Due to the fact, teachers are encouraged to cut corners. Many states public officials, politicians and lawmakers receive humongous pay to the neglect of the teachers who go through pains to produce them. If teachers are well taken care of, it would be easy to address their  misconducts and if they are happy being teachers, education of Nigeria will move to a greater height.

Private Schools Owners Worsen Situation
The pain teachers in private schools go through is rather unbearable. Private school owners only make use of teachers to enrich their pockets.
The difference between private schools teachers and those in government schools is clearly not comparable in terms of care, welfare and privileges.

The adverse effects of these exploitations is that it discourages education graduates from seeking employment in private schools. Hence, a teacher becomes a scarce commodity. The only way out is for our private schools’ management to change their attitude towards teachers.

Teaching as a profession: Teachers are like a radical agent – a single unit that produces all other units. No amount of money can equate their effort just like no amount of milk can equate the breast milk of a mother. They are like a candle that share light to others without losing its value. A great mentor that sacrifices his life and time to mend the lives of others. Without them the humanity has no hope of producing a worthwhile offsprings. They are the changer of the world.

Teachers hide their problems to solve others’. That is why we have the saying: The reward of a teacher is in heaven! The teacher may not have money but he has value, more than any other person. A community that has no teachers will ever remain in darkness.

Hence, teaching is a worthwhile profession and anything worth doing is worth doing well. Teaching is the work of all prophets. No one, I say no one can be compared to a teacher. Not even the farmer. Anybody can choose to become a farmer; you can plant, grow and produce your food with little knowledge but no one can teach what he does not know. Teaching is to practice what you preach and perfect what you practice.

Ways to Loving Teaching:

Problems well defined is half solved. These are suggested ways to restore the love of teaching in students.

1. Lessen the work of our teachers
2. Creating a special program for whoever wants to be in education sector.. 
3. Pay teachers handsomely and timeously.
4. There should be orientation programs on “how to become a teacher” just as students should be encouraged to go for teaching. 
5. Government should provide necessary facilities for schools to enhance teaching and organise regular seminars for teachers. 
6. Communities should let people understand the value of being a teacher and should always host teachers to awards, dinners, etc.
The Pleasure of Teaching
The teachers may not be highly remunerated, but the profession is more highly pleasurable than many others. A teacher gets rewarded even after his death.

These are few advantages of being a teacher:: 

Time Factor:: One major profession to be to have enough time and attention for your family is teaching. There exists a lot resting period, especially the weekends. Being in teaching profession is the best job, particularly for a married woman.

Double Reward: 
As a teacher, apart from the humble pay/salary you receive, you also get prayers from the parents, their parents are always happy to meet you. They usually find a space in their hearts to place your love for ever. In a typical African social setting, whenever you buy from students’ parents, you pay less. At times, parents are ready to even give free of charge. 

Invaluable Experience: 
Teaching is an experience that cannot be earned in a market place. The joy of a teacher can neither be shared nor expressed. Teaching exposes you to happenings around the world. The experience gathered becomes handy and readily available in the nurturing of your own children. Challenges encountered in the process can only make you stronger.
Gender Equity and Equality:
Perhaps the only profession where females are highly regarded or even sometimes more revered than their male counterparts is teaching. No discrimination whatsoever is experienced in the working place unlike in other professions like farming, mining, military where females cannot work conveniently or independently. In fact, females are more advantaged in primary schools as their services are demanded the more.

Molder of Character and Protector of Religious Rights
As someone in teaching line, you are closer to the students than their parents. Parents and religious bodies rely on teachers to teach students the essential values in life, to teach them to be religious and protect them from falling into wrong hands among others.

Consequently, I confessed that I initially never wanted to teach but now I would rather die a teacher.

AbdSalam Muhammed Abideen wrote via 

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