Teachers are perhaps the most under-appreciated professionals in our environment. This wasn’t always so. Once upon a time, to be a teacher in Nigeria was a most enviable thing. Teachers were highly respected. Perhaps next to clergy, the teacher was the next in line to God. Parents deferred to teachers. Children lived by the fear of teachers. If a child had a protracted problem with bad behaviour, all the parent had to do to knock him into line was to threaten to report the child to their teacher. Problem solved. As such, to be a teacher was an aspiration for many young people.
You might recall how teachers back in the eighties seemed so in love with their jobs. It was a thing of pride, a calling to which they responded, even though the financial return on the job was not superb. It was something that they did for the love of the results that they got. A teacher would beam with pride whenever an old student of his came back visiting his alma mater. The pride and joy of seeing the fruits of their labours all grown up and doing well can be quite a fulfilling experience for teachers.
Sadly, the times have changed drastically. Teachers no longer hold quite that same enviable position that they used to hold in the society. We find only a few rare people who get into teaching because it is what they really want to do. Now, for the most part, students end up studying education because they couldn’t get admission for the more juicy courses. Many teachers would switch jobs in a heartbeat if the opportunity arises.
Still, teachers play a key role in the society. Our children, tomorrow’s adults, must pass through their care and be molded (for good or for bad) by them. We must pay more attention to equipping our teachers and providing a more efficient work environment for them. Lastly, we must appreciate them for the pivotal role they play in society. Without many of the great teachers that we passed through, not too many of us would be as successful as we are today.
Good teachers are priceless.