Updated: Dec 8, 2020
World Teachers’ Day, a UNESCO initiative, was first held in 1994 and today is celebrated in more than 200 countries worldwide. However, the idea of celebrating Teachers' Day took root in many countries during the 19th century; in most cases, they celebrated local educators or important milestones in education. This is the primary reason why countries celebrate this day on different dates, unlike many other international holidays. For example, Argentina has commemorated Domingo Faustino Sarmiento's death on 11th September as Teachers’ day since 1915. In India, the birthday of the second president Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (5th, September) is celebrated as Teachers' Day since 1962 and Guru Purnima is traditionally observed as a day to venerate teachers by Hindus. With this said, many countries celebrate their Teachers' Day on 5th October in conjunction with World Teachers' Day. In Nigeria, 5th of October is celebrated as World Teachers' Day and on this day Nigerian teachers celebrate and appreciate themselves in their work; a work free day for Urban teachers. This day is declared as a public holiday by the government; students do not go to school and workers have a work free day. The point is centered around “acknowledging, evaluating and enhancing the instructors of the world” and to give a chance to consider the issues identified with educators and the teaching process in general. This tells us the vitality of teachers; there has not been any nation in the world that has developed without teachers, quality education, or standardized educational structures. As Mustafar Kemal Atatürk (1881-1938), the former President of Turkey says, "a good teacher is like a candle, it consumes itself to light the way for others." There's no doubt that teachers are the backbones of the nation. Their contribution to human capital development are globally enormous. Teachers turnout politicians, lawyers, doctors, sociologists, psychologists, engineers, astronauts, and architects among others. "Teaching is a very noble profession that shapes the character, caliber, and future of an individual." - APJ Abdul Kalam. Without teachers, the whole world would lack great scientists, sociologists, lawyers, etc. In fact, it is said, "teachers are the makers of other professions." Well, we could see the vital role in which teachers play in breeding different professions. There's no one without a teacher. Hitherto, teachers help in the sociological and psychological shaping of an individual. Sociologically, students are taught how to relate and interact by their teachers in school. The sociological and psychological shaping of students are spearheaded by the teachers. The impact of teachers on an individual is herculean.
In as much as Nigeria celebrates teachers' day, others are saddened over the degradation of Nigerian teachers in all ramifications. Nigerian teachers are paid very low and they suffer lots of inhumane degradation, be it from the government or society. Their little salaries are not paid on time; sometimes, for more than six months, and they are mostly taken for granted by the society. Some of these teachers suffered psychological and sociological breakdown which is tantamount to suicide. It is perplexing how the backbones of the society and nation builders are passing through all these inhumane treatments. It's a big slap on our faces that we can eat comfortably and those who supported and helped us to where we are today could not eat and sleep comfortably. There's nobody on this earth without a teacher. "Teachers, I believe, are the most responsible and important members of society because their professional efforts affect the fate of the earth." - Helen Caldicott Teachers go through lots of ups and downs to see their students reach the peak of success and academic excellence. To tell you how teachers are important, the founding father of Sociology, Auguste Comte acknowledged his teacher Saint Simon by saying, “I certainly owe a great deal intellectually to Saint-Simon . . . he contributed powerfully to launching me in the philosophic direction that I clearly created for myself today and which I will follow without hesitation all my life.” It's quite unfortunate that as we celebrate teachers' day in Nigeria we also mourn the recent death of one of our teachers who died by suicide because of poverty and no salary payment. On 3rd October, 2020, two days after Nigerian Independence day celebration, Friday Orobator, a principal lecturer of the University in Ekiadolor, Edo State, Nigeria died by suicide by hanging himself at his Obakhazbaye residence in Benin City, the state capital. It was a surprising thing that perplexed the hearts of many with wonders and surprises of how a principal lecturer, a staff with the Federal government would commit suicide. However, a friend of the deceased confirmed that the lecturer complained to him of getting tired of asking and begging for loans to feed his family as the government held their thirteenth-months salary arrears. It is so unfortunate that teachers who are the nation builders are gruesomely humiliated and thrown to the back side of the society. Conclusively, I want a Nigeria where teachers would be at the forefront, given much priority and pedigree. Where the salaries and welfares of the teachers would be plentiful. Where teachers would be given a vital roles in the society to play and suicide rates among teachers would be reduced to minimal. I want a Nigerian of the teachers who will breed good leaders, engineers, sociologists, lawyers, doctors and many more. I want a new Nigeria!