An education expert, Yinka Ogunde has warned against the politicisation of education. She said such an act was a disservice to improving quality in the sector.
Mrs Ogunde who is the Founder of Concerned Parents and Educators (CPE) Initiative made this remark in an interview with EduCeleb.com at the maiden edition of the Teacher’s Appreciation Day organised by the nongovernmental organisation and held in Lagos last weekend.
“Everybody talks about the problems but we don’t sit down to drive the solutions. If we don’t sit down to drive the solutions and create strategies towards actually bringing a change, we are still going to be in the situation that we are years and years from now.
“If we keep on doing the same thing over and over again you think that you are going to get a different result, we are ready.”
“I sincerely believe that we should stop playing politics with our education system. Let politicians know that education is not all about building infrastructure and gigantic buildings. Yes, we know that buildings and infrastructure are good. But the quality of what is in the mind that we should be concerned about.
“Before a state government will award hundreds of millions in terms of building infrastructure, what about how you grow your teachers to bring out the best in them? These things are what we need to look at. We need to look at the kind of Nigeria we want twenty to thirty years from now. We could begin to grow that from the early years teachers.
She identified that only the best should be in the teaching profession. Making reference to what is obtainable in Finland, she called for deliberate actions to improve perception about teachers and the teaching profession.
“Once you identify yourself as a teacher, people look down on you. They perceive that your brand can not do so much in the society. As a result, a lot of teachers have come to believe that. Because if I consistently tell you that this is who you are, it would take a long while to shrug back to say that ‘This not who I am. I am adding value to the society. I am strong.'”
“Consistently as a teacher, the society has shown that you don’t really count. It is time that perception changed. We need to sit down to do that.
“We need to improve on the quality of teachers. If we don’t do that, our country is not going to change. The quality of minds that would lead our country in the next twenty years would be determined by the quality of teachers we have today. If we don’t impart the best things into their minds, they are not going to give our children the best. You can’t give what you don’t have.
If we going to attract the best of our graduates into that sector, we can’t do it with the same remuneration. We must declare and show that it is a matter of urgency to attract the best into the teaching profession in our country. We should create something to ensure that the teaching profession is respected.
“Any country that will achieve this, it has to be from the top. There has to be someone who would make education top on their agenda. All these things are mainly about perception management. We should look out how teachers could be made to see that we appreciate what they are doing.”
EduCeleb.com reports that CPE, which started as a Facebook group to engage teachers and parents on topical issues that concern them and children has grown to over eighty-six thousand members on the social media platform. The group, with the support of its members have offered scholarships to the less privileged in the past three years. Among other engagements of the CPE are widows’ welfare and teachers’ welfare.
Mrs Ogunde revealed that of the 587 request the CPE recently got for widows’ assistance, the group could only help seventeen. The group is therefore considering exploring avenues to make more impact with available resources.
About 480 teachers graced the one day event which featured games, dancing, goodwill messages and award presentations.