By Sabo Ibrahim Hassan
No one is exploited economically as thoroughly as you and I, because in most countries where people are exploited they know it. You and I are in this country being exploited and sometimes we do not know it.
― Malcolm X
There is indeed no iota of doubt that few private schools have done more than excellent in terms of teachers’ salary and welfare, sadly, sorts of those schools exist in negligible number in the majority of Nigerian States apart from the Federal Capital Territory (Abuja) and Lagos State, where it is believed that children of the upper crust are the predominant students there.
With few exceptions, most private schools in Nigeria have been tagged as ‘exploitative grounds’, simply because, they can selectively choose intellectuals at their youthful stage and dump them when they deem their devotion or commitment is not what it used to be, regardless of how they struggle to put food on table or keep a roof over their heads.
Having taught at a private school during my one-year mandatory national youth service, and continued to teach upon completion of the national task, the combined experience has unfolded a lot with regards cruelty, subjugation, inconsideration and untold contempt faced by many teachers of private schools. Sorrowfully, their weep is not audible enough to be heard.
Besides the monthly peanut they receive, which is most often paid late, the heavy workload they are expected to overcome on either daily, weekly, or monthly basis is a story for another day. Hardly will a teacher be assigned to a single task; they are frequently expected to carry out and deliver a number of duties diligently. Same teachers are expected to exhaust their time and energy in uplifting the school image.
However, apart from the primary role of delivering lessons in class, teachers due to other academic engagements, end up more or less spending their nights sleeplessly. Painfully, with all these burdens, they are not expected to fall sick, while some schools can carelessly let teachers take some break, others will end up callously deducting some pennies from their monthly peanut for the days absent. In fact, some have gone an extra mile to deduct from teachers’ salary for late coming, with no regard for their excusable excuse.
Any sane individual will pity most private school teachers when they are faced by any financial challenge ranging from birth, accident, and other emergencies. There and then, they fully become on their own, management will surely congratulate or sympathize with them, but it will be a cold day in the hell before they extend their financial message. Most private Schools know nothing beside that which will solely favor them.
Regrettable is what most private school teachers became during this Covid 19 pandemic, they nearly turned to beggars, no source of income and the schools cannot out of compassion and empathy carry them along in their financial journey. Exceptional were schools able to pay for one month after school closure due to the pandemic, and from there the story changed completely.
Additionally, some private schools will organize extra mural classes for their students, this time around, teachers will be heavily re-engaged with very little increment in their monthly peanuts. Agreed that teachers’ reward is in the heaven, however, their wellbeing should not be mistaken for misery.
By and large, most proprietors/directors hold the belief that they are doing teachers a favor, this is why the seemingly endless merciless treatment ceases to halt, and because they have an uncompromised business-oriented mind, anything apart from money or that cannot generate money is never worth their consideration.
Even though some private schools do welcome suggestions/pieces of advice from their members of staff, most private schools are where teachers do not have the right to say this is how I think it should best be done, teachers’ opinion are usually irrelevant, and decisions made by most private schools management always stand.
In what is more painful, internal students pay almost 25 to 30 thousand as WAEC or NECO fee alone, which according to international center for investigative report (ICIR) after they reached out to the Nigerian office of the West African examination body to verify the actual amount for the May/June 2020 WAEC examination, it was discovered that the official fee is pegged at N13, 950 or 14,450 with bank commission. Consider 100 students registered in a school, more than a million profit is made, and the story remains untold to these noble teachers let alone being invited to smell the financial aroma. Should the students fail, all the blame will be heaped upon the teachers by the school management.
Unless one supports mediocrity proliferation and production of incompetent graduates, it will remain a myopic thought to propose that these teachers should have something doing besides teaching. Teaching needs time, concentration, and devotion. Some private schools close 2pm and others 4pm, what time should most teachers use for business, lesson plan and lesson note? One does not eat one’s cake and have it. It is a one-way decision; either teach or leave, and we seriously need qualified teachers just like we need any other professional.
Therefore, the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS) should as a matter of fact, responsibly come to most private teachers’ rescue, through implementing a standard salary and welfare, capable of catering the need of these teachers. The body should also Thoroughly monitor the activities of the private schools in question. They should also enact laws that will help to punish schools found defying such standard.
Sabo Ibrahim Hassan can be reached at Ibrahimsabohassan60@gmail.com