WORLD TEACHERS DAY: ERC CALLS FOR N200, 000 MINIMUM WAGE FOR NIGERIAN TEACHERS
We call for unity between NUT and PRISCTUN to fight for improved pay and working conditions for all teachers and proper funding of education
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) salutes Nigerian teachers on the occasion of this year’s World Teachers Day which takes place every 5th October to celebrate the sacrifices of teachers all over the world. On this day, the ERC calls for the payment of a minimum wage of nothing less than N200, 000 to all categories of Nigerian teachers in both public and private schools, improved working conditions and end to public education underfunding and commercialization which is pricing education out of the reach of children from poor working class background. We indeed call for adequate provision of teachers, decent classrooms, libraries, laboratories and other functional facilities that aid quality education in public schools such that private schools are made unnecessary or less attractive to the working class and middle class people.
Just as workers are central to capitalist system of production as no wheel can turn without them, teachers who are knowledge producers are the lifeblood of every successful educational system. Unfortunately, successive anti-poor capitalist governments in Nigeria have failed to take care of teachers instead turning them to paupers while expecting quality service delivery from them and improved educational outcomes.
While the generality of Nigerian workers are poorly paid, Nigerian teachers stand out as the most poorly paid category of the working population. Teachers in public schools earn poverty wages that can barely provide for them and family a decent existence. Furthermore, the working conditions of Nigerian teachers are atrocious as they work long hours while teaching often in dilapidated, poorly lit and ventilated overcrowded classrooms with poor teaching infrastructure and an un-conducive school environment.
Education is the single most important medium to facilitate human development and teachers often bear the burden of carrying the torch of knowledge to wherever it is needed, even if it is the remotest and most dangerous part of the country. Although underreported, several teachers have fallen victims to the multifaceted insecurity plaguing Nigeria. According to the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), nothing less than 2, 295 teachers have been killed, over 19, 000 displaced and 910 schools damaged or destroyed in the North East between 2009 and 2022 due to Boko haram insurgency. Having lost their bread winners, the families left behind often become further impoverished, highlighting Nigerian teachers’ lack of adequate provisions for occupational and environmental hazards they encounter on a daily basis.
Tragically, teachers in for-profit schools are even worse-off as a huge percentage of them earn less than the minimum wage of N30, 000 at a period when wages and income have lost about 75% of their real value due to the impacts of fuel subsidy removal, currency devaluation and the consequential rise in inflation. This is in spite of the fact that many of the for-profit private schools charge huge fees. At the moment, private school proprietors are moving might and main to prevent teachers in their employ from joining their union, the Private School Teachers Union of Nigeria (PRISCTUN), in apparent violation of Nigeria’s labour laws. This is because they recognize that once they become unionized, private school teachers will gain the power to begin to demand a review of their terrible conditions.
We hereby use the occasion of the World Teachers Day to call on the employers group, the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS), to recognize the right to independent trade unionism by allowing teachers in their employ to freely exercise their constitutionally-guaranteed right to join PRISCTUN without any victimization. We urge the NUT, NLC and TUC to openly back PRISCTUN and help build the union so that it can be able to defend the interest of private school teachers.
We also call for unity between the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) and PRISCTUN to fight for improved pay and working conditions for all teachers, recognition of rights to independent unionism and proper funding of education. We strongly believe that given the scale of the challenges facing Nigerian teachers today, a joint one-day general strike and mass protest by the NUT and PRISCTUN is urgently needed to begin to highlight and build awareness about the conditions teachers face in Nigeria in order to lay the basis for a national struggle that can win real improvement.
Deputy National Coordinator
Adaramoye Michael Lenin
National Mobilization Officer