By Chinyere Nwachukwu
Lagos – Senate President Bukola Saraki says government at levels should accord teachers’ welfare priority at all times considering the important roles they play in nation building.
Saraki spoke in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on the sidelines of the King’s College Founder’s Day Celebration lecture held in Lagos on Friday evening.
The event was organised by the King’s College Old Boys Association (KCOBA) as part of the activities lined up to kick start the 107th Founder’s Day Celebration of the college.
According to Saraki, welfare of teachers must remain top priority in the affairs of government at all levels in a bid to actualise the much desired accelerated development in all sectors of the nation’s economy.
He said any country that desire secured future for its citizens, especially the youth, must not toil with their education and the welfare of teachers.
The senate president said that teachers and what they stand for in any country should be respected, and as well be given the necessary supports needed to ensure maximum productivity.
He said it was only when this was done that the multiplier effects would be felt.
“There must be a paradigm shift on how we attend to educational issues in this country, things like teachers’ welfare and quality of education, not quantity, must be prioritised.
“When we fail to pay attention to things concerning the teachers’ welfare, it will not in any way encourage them to put in their best.
“No matter the structures put in place in our school system to facilitate teaching and learning, if the teachers are not there or they are there, but are not happy, we will not achieve the desire results,” Saraki said.
He said that another major challenge facing the education sector was the too much emphasise on quantity, saying ”there must be paradigm shift from quantity to qualityto improve the education system.
“If you do not have an understanding of what works for you, then, all efforts to improve education will be fruitless.
“At this point too, we must also strive to focus on what matters.
“Our teachers must also continually undergo training and retraining to always be at par with the current trends,” he said.
Saraki lauded the teachers of King’s College for their resilience and peaceful conduct in the face of issues bordering on the non-payment of their salaries May.
“I must salute the teachers for their patience and resilience all through the period, especially in the face of the current economy challenges in the country.
“The development is indeed regretted, but I can assure you that something must be done speedily to ensure that these salaries are paid before the end of next week.
” I will personally take it up as soon as I get back, and I believe that everything will be sorted out.
“We do not have any excuse for a country such as ours to be addressing issues bordering on non-payment of salaries.
“When this kind of things happenned, it will not encourage the teachers, nor encourage the prospective teachers,” he said.
NAN reports that the teaching and non-teaching staff of the college had been on strike since May to demand for the payment of their salaries.
They had threatened not to resume work until all their outstanding salaries were fully paid.
Teachers in the college had claimed that the omission of their salaries was as a result of a mixed up between the Budget Office and the Federal Ministry of Finance.
(Edited and controlled by Olagoke Olatoye)