The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has revealed Federal Government’s plans to recruit more teachers “to increase the teacher-pupil ratio at the primary school level.”
Buhari said this when he met with the leaders of the Nigeria Union of Teachers at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Tuesday.
The NUT appealed to him to append his signature to the bill seeking a new retirement age for teachers.
The bill, which was passed by the National Assembly, is before the Presidency.
The body is seeking to raise the retirement age of teachers from 60 years to 65 years.
The body is also pushing for a new salary structure for teachers.
The President of the NUT, Mr Nasir Idris, informed Buhari that the age retirement bill would ‘‘revolutionise and strengthen the (teaching) profession for the well-being of the nation’s schools,” if signed into law by him.
He said this would help retain more trained teachers in the system and increase the teacher-to-pupil ratio.
Buhari assured the union that his regime would work towards improving the teacher-to-pupil ratio through the N-Power Teach Volunteers Scheme under the National Social Investment Programme.
“We have created a dedicated platform under the National Social Investment Programme called N-Power Teach, which engages qualified graduates to man the gaps in basic education delivery in Nigeria,” the President was quoted as telling the NUT chiefs in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina.
“The N-Power Teach Volunteers are deployed as teaching assistants in primary schools across Nigeria to support the existing teachers.
“The aim of this is to increase the teacher-pupil ratio at the primary school level, thereby enhancing the quality of the pupils moving to secondary schools.
“I want to take this opportunity to ask all NUT members to support these programmes and encourage as many qualified and willing graduates to enrol in the teaching profession,” he added.
According to the Ministry of Education’s statistics, Nigeria had about 1.5 million teachers in public and private schools in 2016.
The information showed that 764,596 teachers taught in primary schools and 292,080 in junior secondary schools.
Senior secondary schools had 398,275 teachers.
The ministry put the teacher-to-pupil ratio at “one qualified teacher for every 46 pupils in public primary schools, 29 pupils per qualified junior secondary school teacher and 16 pupils for one qualified teacher in senior classes”.
Buhari acknowledged the dedication of teachers to duty, describing the profession as one of the noblest.
He said, “It shapes the character, calibre and future of individuals and nations. You and I were all taught by teachers who moulded our persons and influenced our future. No price is too high for good rewards.”