The recent power tussles (if I may call that) between Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) has yet shown another instance of the negative feelings people have towards their teachers. If ASUU was expecting sympathy from Nigerians, it would have been heartbroken because almost every single Nigerian believes they don’t deserve whatever it was they were striving for. Nigerians have already passed judgement, without hearing, and have declared ASUU guilty of bullying FGN.
But, if you truly look at this, you will come to agree with me that Nigerians are subjective in their judgement. Trust me, if it were the Super Eagles that said they won’t be captured by the IPPIS, Nigerians would have backed them up and fought FGN with them. In fact, Nigerians would have taken over the case and done the fighting for them. But here, they found themselves between their two “enemies”, so they stood with the less threatening one this time.
So I ask, why do people dislike their teachers? Why is it that teachers are never treated with the honour they deserved? Why do Nigerians decide that teachers should remain hungry and wait for their rewards in heaven? Why is it that when teachers start striking people will ask them to consider the welfare of their students without joining them to make their voices heard?
I know that the first thing everybody will say about lecturers is that they are mean, selfish, greedy and inconsiderate. I know some people will be fast to remind me that lecturers collect bribe, or rather sorting, and that they compel their students to have sex with them. But, do all lecturers engage in these acts? Besides, if ASUU is inconsiderate of the economic situation of the country, as people kept reminding them, how come those in the House, that are living a lavishing lifestyle, allocating excessive funds to themselves and using public funds and properties for their personal gains, are not considerate? Or is it because the demand came from ASUU?
Having been a teacher for more than a decade, and having tried several methods to keep the students relaxed, I’ve found out that no matter what you do as a teacher, you are never loved by your students, whether incumbent or past. The past ones may acknowledge what you’ve done for them, but deep down them remains that feeling that bothers around dislike and anger. That is why someone will say something like, “That man helped me to understand Pythagoras theorem, but, men, that man no be am.” If you ask him what that man did that earned him the “no be am” comment, you may be surprised to find out that no coherent answer will come forth.
What I have come to realise is that teachers push their students out of their comfort zones. That is the only crime they committed. I’ll try my best to explain how they do this.
1. Disruptive Knowledge: When teachers teach, they pass on sets of new knowledge to their students. Most times, this could be quite challenging to the students, who might need to unlearn what has been instilled in them for a long time in order to pick up what the teacher is saying. Some may create a dissonance and ignore the new knowledge. This last set of people always do the possible best to discredit their teachers. In fact they are the ones that usually see teachers from the negative light.
2. Tests and Exams: Another crime teachers commit is testing their students. A lot of people don’t like any form of tests or exams; they want an exam-free education system. But here they are, scheduled to write challenging tests given by their teachers, who denied them time to play football and hang out with friends. And in the exam hall, she will bring out questions that make them think for 10 minutes before they can understand what was expected of them. By the end of the day, the students write their exams with annoyance, which they transfer to their teachers and never to themselves.
3. Evaluation: It is common for a teacher to “give” students D, E, and F, and for the students to “get” A and B. This is the common believe in our country. When a student knows he didn’t do well in the exam, he will still claim that the teacher “gave” him F. This is just a way of insinuating that the teacher wrongly evaluated him. But should the teacher “wrongly” give him A, when he, the student, knows he didn’t merit it, he will not say the “teacher gave” him but that “I got” A. This is just to say that students blame their teachers for their (the students’) failures, but never give them credit for their success. This follows them even after leaving school. That’s why people don’t speak out for the welfare of teachers, because they never truly saw them as having done anything for them.
4. Punishment: People hardly forget those that punished them even when the pain has gone and the memory is blurred. A single punishment from a teacher is enough to earn him a life enemy. He, the teacher, may forget the punishment but the person that received it will bear it to heart for long. That the punishment was meted out to help or to reform the student isn’t the concern of the student; all he cared about at that moment is that he was humiliated and penalised for something he saw as nothing. The worst thing here is that this affected student will transfer his dislike for the teacher to others teachers, even to the ones that were his ‘friends’.
It’s high time Nigeria started according teachers respects due to them. Teachers are the lowest salary earners in this country and there is no sign that this situation will change anytime soon. Even professor in the university earns what an entry-level BSc holder in some MDAs receives (and most of them are not under IPPIS) but nobody notices that. So if ASUU is the only strong body that will make the voice of the academics heard in this country, then I’ll stand with them. FGN shouldn’t turn academics into puppets, IPPIS or not.
Let me also ask one more thing, are those in the National Houses paid under IPPIS? Or are Nigerians misfiring their ‘anger’ to the wrong party?