…Orders revision of guidelines to prioritise IT, AI, others as teaching technologies
By Stanley Nkwocha
President Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, on Thursday, declared the determination of his administration to ensure teachers get their due reward.
He regretted the challenges confronting Nigerian teachers, including overcrowded classrooms, scarce resources and limited opportunities for professional development, which he said are the result of prolonged neglect of the noble profession.
The President made the promise on Thursday during the 2023 World Teachers’ Day commemoration at Eagle Square, Abuja.
President Tinubu who was represented by his deputy, Vice President Kashim Shettima, noted that Nigeria’s future can only be safeguarded by investing in education, empowering the teachers and providing every child with the tools to reach their dream destination.
Delivering the President’s keynote address titled, “Teacher Appreciation: Nurturing Minds, Changing Lives,” VP Shettima said, “Our commitment to actualising our education reforms is to drive the emergence and sustenance of a system that recognises that education is the mother of new ideas and groundbreaking discoveries.
“With well-taught workforces, we are not only going to build a nation that thinks but one that lives in an interconnected world, a world where the exchange of knowledge and ideas knows no boundaries. Without motivated teachers, we can’t build a nation that fosters such international cooperation, builds bridges of understanding, and addresses global challenges such as climate change, poverty, and healthcare. So, education, to us, and I believe to you too, is not just a means to individual success; it is a path to global harmony and sustainable development.
“Of course, our dear teachers, we are not just going to focus solely on technological advancements. The human aspect of education is just as critical as the infrastructure. Our teachers deserve to be treated with the respect and dignity they deserve. It is my promise that we will work tirelessly to build a society where the teacher’s reward begins to manifest here on earth,” the President said.
Noting that every educated person is a product of teachers, President Tinubu expressed the nation’s gratitude to Nigerian teachers, reassuring them that their profession is a prime in the vision for the nation and her development agenda.
“So, this day is more of a thanksgiving to honour those who have nurtured us, those who have guided us toward the hills upon which we stand today.
“I believe that there’s no vehicle that can transport you to your destination as safely as education. It is the reason every child, regardless of their background, awaits a future of vast possibilities. It is the reason the child of a disadvantaged family in a remote village cling to the same future as children from privileged homes with certainty.
“Education is the miracle that changes the fortune of a family in a single generation. Thanks to you, our dear teachers, we have broken down barriers and created a society where merit, talent, and hard work supersede the circumstances of one’s birth.
“So, by investing in education, by empowering our teachers, and by providing every child with the tools to reach their dream destination, we have safeguarded the future of this nation,” the President emphasised.
Observing that the world has undergone serious changes, President Tinubu said in the age of artificial intelligence where technology is transforming every facet of lives, teachers face new challenges and opportunities in a digital era.
The President disclosed that he has directed the Ministers of Education to collaborate with the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation to comprehensively revise existing guidelines “to ensure that anyone seeking to benefit from this Act must be fully prepared to return to the classroom, equipped with the latest teaching techniques and skills, especially in the realm of information technology”.
He continued: “I am pleased to share with you a significant policy initiative, the Harmonised Retirement Age of Teachers in Nigeria Act 2022, which allows our dedicated teachers to continue their invaluable service for up to forty years or until reaching the age of sixty-five, whichever comes first. This measure is designed to retain the wealth of experience within our educational system and bolster the number of educators in our schools.
“I encourage each of you to consider taking advantage of this policy, but please bear in mind that eligibility is not automatic. To benefit from this Act, you must possess contemporary teaching skills, including proficiency in information technology, as we strive to equip our students for both the challenges of today and the opportunities of tomorrow.”
Recalling that the role of a teacher had moved from not only imparting knowledge, the President said it has extended far beyond that, and they are now expected to be technologically adept, adaptable, and innovative.
“They must equip their students with skills that are relevant to an ever-evolving job market, where automation and AI are becoming increasingly prevalent. Our commitment to education must evolve with the times.
“Our plan for the education sector is to make it a system capable of harnessing the potential of new learning technologies. Our agenda is to build a system where artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and virtual classrooms are not mere buzzwords. They are tools that can revolutionize the way we teach, learn, and think.
“We are going to invest in modernizing our educational infrastructure and make sure that we are in step with the world on the road to the future,” Tinubu added.
On why the government decided to present the President’s Teachers and Schools Excellence Awards this year, Tinubu said improving the condition of teachers was not enough.
He stated: “This is why we will foster a culture of appreciation for our teachers. This is why we will recognise their contributions not just on World Teachers’ Day but throughout the year.
“Our teachers are not only educators but also mentors, guides, and role models who shape the character and aspirations of our children. Every nation reflects the satisfaction of its teachers.”
Earlier in his opening remarks, Minister of Education, Prof. Tahir Mamman, said the day offers opportunity for society to celebrate its true heroes, describing teachers as the champions of Nigeria’s transformation.
He said celebrating and rewarding excellence in the teaching profession was government’s way of encouraging and attracting qualified persons to the sector.
On his part, the National President of NUT, Comrade Audu Amba, acknowledged and commended the efforts of government to improve the welfare of teachers and their working condition, particularly the sustenance of existing initiatives to reward excellence and hard work.
While calling on governments across different levels to scale up funding for the education sector, the NUT president urged teachers to embrace innovation in technology, just as he appealed to stakeholders to provide digital tools as well as training opportunities to enhance teaching and learning.
He also called on government to provide adequate security in schools across the country, as well as make the teaching profession more attractive by improving welfare and infrastructure, especially in public schools.
Goodwill messages were presented by the Speaker of the House of Representatives who was represented by Hon. Mark Useni and the Minister of State for FCT, Dr Mariya Bunkure.
Also present at the event were the Chairman, Senate Committee on Education, Sen. Adamu Usman; Minister of State for Education, Hon. Yusuf Sununu; Deputy Governor of Kebbi State, Hon. Umar Tafida, among others.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Communications
(Office of the Vice President)
5th October, 2023.