By Uroupa Kiakubu
With no alternative source of income as schools remain closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many Nigerian teachers are finding it difficult to survive. Last week, a private school teacher in Abuja, Akindele Oluwasheun Oladipupo was in the news after a video of him went viral. Akindele wept bitterly in the video while calling on private school owners to come to the aid of their teachers in these trying times.
Akindele’s plight is a reflection of what many Nigerian teachers are facing and should serve as a wake up call to the government and private school owners to revamp Nigeria’s educational system to meet up with the challenges of the 21st century.
Akindele and other teachers were ecstatic when the federal government announced that schools will reopen for exams in July. But all hope was lost when the decision was reversed. The teacher, who is married with three young kids, could not hold back his disappointment and grief when he heard that schools were no longer opening for exams in July, so he turned to his mobile phone and poured out his grief with the hope of soliciting support for private school teachers.
OUTBURST OF A PRIVATE SCHOOL TEACHER.
Please there is no best time other than now to reach out to them. Most of them have not been finding it any easy.
Cc:@segalink @DrJoeAbah @DrCOmole @BhadmusAkeem @tysalihu @Naija_PR @amandachinda_ @ayemojubar @vogunyinka @lotufodunrin pic.twitter.com/dRK0LO0tLU
— OLAWOYIN Edris Busayo,anipr (@Olawoyin4u) July 10, 2020
In an interview, Akindele said that he just sat in shock digesting the news, before tears ran down his face. According to him, “My wife said to me, ‘Don’t cry, it’s ok, we’ll manage, somehow.” But I was thinking of the many teachers who have nothing to feed their families. In many cases, both wife and husband are teachers. That’s the entire family income gone – indefinitely.” He also said that “it was really difficult seeing elderly teachers who had given many years of service to the profession pleading for food.”
A friend advised Akindele to post the video. It went viral and aroused sympathy from Nigerians and non-Nigerians alike. Lara Wise, a Nigerian journalist who saw the video launched a Facebook campaign to find the teacher and advised him to post a second clip with his account details, shortly after which donations started pouring in from different parts of the world.
The private school teacher was overwhelmed by such a show of love and generosity towards him. Akindele was kind enough to share the over 1.2m Naira ($3,100; £2,400) with more than 200 needy teachers; he gave them money and distributed food items to them including rice and spaghetti. It was in the process of helping his fellow teachers that he realized the magnitude of the problem when many teachers from across Nigeria started reaching out to him for assistance.
In light of this story, it is all too obvious that the Covid-19 pandemic has not only brought untold hardship on many Nigerian teachers but it has also exposed the deficiencies in our educational system which must be addressed for common good of all. The plight of Nigerian teachers must be taken seriously because they are vital contributors to national development. All stakeholders, private school owners, and government at all levels should consider the training and retraining of Nigerian teachers to equip them with the required digital skills they need to meet up with the challenges of the 21st century.
Capacity building workshops for teachers should focus on digital literacy where teachers are taught to create and edit digital audio and use video content to engage students online amongst other things, while exploring their new knowledge as an avenue to create alternative sources of income to alleviate their suffering.