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Grace Efezokhae : Celebrating the Duty & Dedication of Nigerian Teachers

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I used to be mischievous back in secondary school. I was that naughty student that had a little green book where I wrote down nicknames of all the teachers. Some of these names; milk factory (because he always had saliva at the corner of his lips while talking), Omo la Bouncer; he had a ‘swaggalicious’ way of walking and Ja Rule; he never missed his period and was “always on time”. If Ja Rule’s period was for 3pm- 3:30pm, he would be there right on time and leave at exactly 3:30pm even if he was in the middle of a sentence. I even read of a teacher’s nickname as ‘Baba Jankara’ just because the man could sell any kind of thing under the sun from math set to ruler to pencils and erasers.

Despite my mischievousness, I never grew up to see anyone who wanted to be a teacher until my final year at the university. I was really awed at how this girl talked enthusiastically about becoming a teacher someday. As at date, the babe works in a bank.

As the world celebrated teachers on the 5th of October, I really want to give a shout out to all Nigerian teachers who found themselves in the profession either driven by their passion, circumstances or just by default. It’s really tough being a teacher in Nigeria.

This profession is by far the least-appreciated by the Government and citizens. They are the first to be blamed for mass failures in WASSCE, despite the fact that facilities and teaching aids have gone absolutely moribund. They are underpaid, with meagre salaries as low as N20, 000 per month and in extreme cases could be owed over 6 months’ salary arrears by their employers.

All these have led teachers to being treated as second string public servants by government employees and low income earners. They’re just seen as victims of circumstances because they could not get a means to eke out a better living. What could be said of some private schools who charge ridiculous fees to parents yet pay peanuts to teachers? My brother told me of the poor living conditions of the teachers in the private school where he attended. According to him, there was one who used a nail to hook the only belt he had and another teacher whom the students went rejoicing with when he got himself a new pair of shoes after having worn tatters for so long. It’s even sad to note that a landlord in Nigeria will give less preference to a teacher becoming his tenant.

Despite all these, the role of a well-motivated teacher in the life of a kid and the educational sector at large cannot be overestimated. They have shaped the lives of many of us, in no small measure. We can all look back at all the teachers who taught us selflessly and encouraged us to be better persons today. I’d love to dedicate this article to some teachers in my life who have propelled and motivated me in life that I can be everything I want to be in life if only I could be determined.

A defining moment in my life that shows the importance of teachers was in primary school when math was one subject I dreaded for all the right and wrong reasons. I wrote the National Common entrance in primary 4 and scored 449. I couldn’t gain admission into college school that year because the cut off mark was 450. My parents got me a math lesson teacher in the person of Mr. Kofi who taught me selflessly and made me love math to the teeth. He literally turned my life around for the better. Right from then, math has just been my favorite. I’ll always remain grateful to him.

Here is a toast to all the teachers who have impacted my life in my days at FGGC Ipetumodu; Mr. Bamidele, Mr. Adedoja and Mr. Abomide who taught me math and further-math, and Mr. Odukale who taught me Government. May God bless you all abundantly.

“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops”- Henry Adams

Photo Credit: Dreamstime |Sam74100

Grace Efezokahe is a finance professional based in Toronto, Ontario. She is an avid reader, writer and traveller who loves to travel and share her experiences for others to see the world through her eyes. She can be reached on [email protected].

31 Comments

  1. chidinma ugwu

    October 7, 2014 at 11:31 am

    That’s my alma mater.long live feggi jungle

  2. Emikay

    October 7, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    One of my favourite moments as a teacher was when two of my students were talking and one said to the other “when I grow up I want to be a teacher like Ms. Emikay.” It feels good to know that I can inspire the next generation positively. Shout out to all the teachers who show up day in day out changing and shaping lives.

  3. jude Onyeka

    October 7, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    Keep that ink flowing girl!

  4. Concerned_Boyfriend

    October 7, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    Coming from someone that both parents were teachers, this article was heart-felt and very appreciated. It’s about time we shine the spotlight on Nigerian’s un-song heroes. We all have personally encounters with at least one teacher that has played a tremendous role in shaping our character and indeed our lives. Let us encourage them in words and kinds. In doing so, we might be motivating the next generation.

  5. yomi

    October 7, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    Nice one from my good friend. Babe u rock joor

  6. chinco

    October 7, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    I thank God for my pry 4 teacher who gave me my 1st motivational speech. I remember that day so well. That has shaped me to bold and resilient enough to always try to better myself. God bless you wherever you are

  7. Ifunanya

    October 7, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    Wow! Teachers are blessings indeed,i can neva forget my physics,chemitry and maths teachers dey made me love science and now am a proud medical scientist dey impacted positively in my life during my secondary sch days.God bless teachers!

  8. Enyioma

    October 7, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    You go girl… As a teacher’s daughter, I can relate…being a teacher is, at least in Nigeria, synonymous with poverty, acute suffering, hunger, second-class citizenship, pity, etc. I pray we wake up one day to truly celebrate these special people who have made us who we are by their dedication and selflessness. This by actually reforming the education sector in its entirety.
    Well done again.

  9. glo

    October 7, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    I remember those teacher dat does not like missing deir period (time) …

    • Anonymous

      October 7, 2014 at 5:45 pm

      And that’s all you could pick up from the article….Grow up

  10. wabzy

    October 7, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    Nice one Gracie, really nice. Kudos…..

  11. tayo

    October 7, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    awwwww grace! long live feggip

  12. A

    October 7, 2014 at 8:49 pm

    Obviously you did not love your English teacher!

    • Ugh.

      October 8, 2014 at 12:18 am

      That’s the only thing you gleaned from the entire post? Seek help.

    • cos I say so

      October 8, 2014 at 8:55 am

      Lmaooooo… too witty!!!

  13. chichi

    October 7, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    Nigerian teachers are so un-appreciated, yet they work with limited resources to educate and instill discipline amongst their students. when you live abroad, America to be precise, and see how nonchalant teachers are when a child is not on the same level as his peers, you will begin to appreciate Nigerian teachers and their inclusive way of teaching. I remember my brother learning how to finally read at age 10. If it happened in the states, he would have been doomed and written off as a child with learning disabilities. Today he is an attorney, all thanks to the extra lessons and steadfast commitment of his teachers.

    • BlueEyed

      October 8, 2014 at 8:39 am

      This comment speaks the truth, nigerian teachers deserve kudos, the carry-everybody-along and-no-child-is-a-dummy attitude is plausible, in western countries where you would think it is better there’s always that tendency to write children off, and shine the torch on the brilliant ones in the lot.
      I too have had influence from teachers both in school and home tutors, that have shaped me into who I am in the society today, I remember one particular teacher who is like my senior brother, I always pray for him everytime I remember him, he encouraged my mom to believe in me because he believed in my abilities, I graduated from the university at 19,finished my masters at 21, and started my Ph.D, sounds like a testimony right? But this guy who in my ss 2 told my parents to let me try out the Waec and jamb exams and he tutored me day and night to prove to my parents that I could do it. uncle Femi God will always remember you, and I owe who I am a lot to you.

  14. Mz Socially Awkward...

    October 7, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    Shout out first of all my mother, the very Prof, who has remained (& still is) constantly dedicated to the thorough education of not just her children but all of the young minds that pass(ed) through her lecture hall. And even her own home. She truly makes me appreciate the thankless role that teachers in Nigeria willingly take on.

    And a very special shout out goes to – Mrs Nwosuagwu of FGGC Abuloma fame. You imparted an understanding of English Language and English Literature to my young mind as nobody else could ever have done. Madam, I was and still remain in complete awe of your abilities as an English teacher.

    Finally, I have great respect for every single one of my law school lecturers (Enugu campus, 2002-03). You all did what my university lecturers just couldn’t do, which is make the law come alive to me and stir up an awareness of why I wanted to belong to this profession. Those 9 months shaped me indescribably – thank you.

  15. cherry!

    October 7, 2014 at 11:59 pm

    In my nursery school days, my class teacher made me fall in love with teaching. I admired her. With patience and tolerance, she won our heart. I thought of becoming a teacher then.

    To date, I would like to be a lecturer because a particular lecturer is motivating me. He makes the profession simpler and easier. The power of impacting in a roomful of students. Oh mehn!

    I will forever remain grateful to all schools I passed through. They teachers did a lot in curbing students. Air Force Comprehensive School Agbani, Enugu teachers and soldiers, thank you so much.

  16. Green

    October 8, 2014 at 12:10 am

    First shout out to my Mum, she’s been a teacher all my life and still on the job, still raising men and women kudos! I remember this sticker from childhood that read “If you can write your name, thank your teacher”.
    Next is , Pry 4 teacher (can’t remember her name) you believed in me enough to give me that scolding and then comes Pry 6 teacher, thank u Sir.
    Then, at some point I became a teacher, oh what joy I found to be able to affect someone’s life positively, to provide answers to questions, to counsel young girls on relationship decisions or share their secrets with them. Recently, a student made outstanding grades in his A’Levels, it was so rewarding to get his simple message “thank you for believing in me”
    But then, I stopped being a teacher cos in Nigeria, teaching is no profession. When you introduce yourself as a teacher, people look at you like you are unsuccessful.. Maybe, someday I might go back to the classroom…

  17. tosin

    October 8, 2014 at 12:29 am

    wanna say a big thank you to all my teachers that have instilled knowledge in me. especially my mom!!!

  18. $exyD

    October 8, 2014 at 12:42 am

    One of my students when I was serving just wrote to me few days ago that he thought I was very wicked when I used to punish them with assignments but thank God for those punishments cos they have done him a lot of good!
    Thanks to all my teachers especially Uncle Kay…biggest shout out to my Mum…abiyamo tooto…exceptional mother…a disciplinarian teacher….no nonsense…obinrin bi okunrin…sunre o

  19. sleek

    October 8, 2014 at 9:42 am

    SHOUT OUT TO ALLLLL THE TEACHERS OF FGGC IPETUMODU ……those teachers were fiercely dedicated special mentions to MR ODUKALE of Govt class .
    Grace is always apt.

  20. Tokosi Mufteeheart

    October 8, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    Kudos to all teachers worldwide…You’ve made us all literates.
    Lovely piece here gracie…Proud to be associated with you.
    Long live my Alma mater….FGGC Ipetumodu.

  21. Baby

    October 8, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    Shout out to my mum who has been a school and Sunday school teacher all my 43 years……even after retiring from teaching she still teaches in Sunday school to date…..I have met people who when they find out she is my mum they tell me how much she impacted their lives…..teachers need to be more appreciated more as they are like second parents to children.. Shout out to all the teachers out there…..God bless you for your labour of love ……

  22. 1 + The One

    October 8, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    Brilliant article Gracie.. Thanks for honouring teachers, they deserve it so!
    Lol @ the different nicknames you gave your teachers… I think ‘JaRule was ingenious lol

    When I was younger, my dream job was to be a Teacher.. I was inspired by the great men and women who had taught me and wanted to be just like them! I will never forget Mrs Yetunde Ajayi (of blessed memory) who taught me in Sunnyfields Primary School.. That woman was a legend! I had always looked forward to looking for her after I had made it (she made me believe I could!) and going to show her the fruits of her labour 🙂
    I am still in denial that she is no more…
    I also remember my Sunday School Teachers! God used them to help mould me.. I am eternally grateful!

    May God bless and reward teachers. I pray that they will start to receive the honour, respect, dignity and reward that they deserve.

  23. Blessmyheart

    October 8, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    A special shout out to my Mum, I can’t forget her tutoring me for common entrance – I was only meant to try it out after primary 4 but I did very well and my dad insisted I go to secondary school. Unfortunately, even though both parents are into education, I’ve never felt I could do well as a teacher or lecturer.

    I screamed when I saw FGGC Ipetumodu, proudly a FEGGIP babe. Speaking of which, we had some really good teachers. I can attribute my love for, and success in some subjects directly to the teachers – Mr Adewale for Accounting, Mr Aderemi for Geography, Mr Odukale for Government,the Beninoise guys for French, Biology (can’t remember her name, unfortunately), can’t also remember who my Mathematics teacher in SS2 was but I fell in love with Maths from that time.

    Teachers really play an unquantifiable role and it’s quite unfortunate that they are not well recognised but I feel they should also try to improve themselves as much as possible. Case in point, my mum and one of my aunts went back to school at some point and kept doing all they could to improve tthemselves. My mum has started her own school now and my aunt is an education consultant.

    Sorry for the epistle

  24. Chiamaka Abasilim

    October 9, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    Amazing one Grace.

    thinkworkandgo.blogspot.com/

  25. THEOPHILUS EFEZOKHAE

    October 13, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    thanks Gracy, a good write up

  26. Grace Efezokhae

    October 16, 2014 at 9:46 am

    Thanks to everyone of you that took time out to read this post and even dropped comments. God bless you all.
    God bless all our teachers in Nigeria.
    Thanks bella naija for the feature.

  27. Chizoba Egbuawa

    October 21, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    Goose bumps all over me, reading this feature and the inspiring comments. I might just track my steps back to the classrooms someday as a result of this inspiration.

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