We are witnessing industrial action by arts teachers not satisfied with the government’s position to selectively increase salaries for only science teachers.
Notably, teachers’ productivity should not fallaciously be premised on teaching subject content per se, it factually goes beyond this.
As teachers undergo training, regardless of the specialisation they all study course units like psychology of education, philosophy of education, comparative education, sociology of education, school administration, education counselling, and development studies, among others.
All this is intended to prepare them that what lies ahead of them is not teaching subject content per se but to holistically help a learner.
A teacher must always be ready to read the mind of a learner, detect psycho- social and emotional instabilities of a learner and mitigate them through counselling. By training, Arts or Science teachers are all trained counsellors.
A teacher must go further to evaluate the environment a child comes from and detect any effect on their learning performance and even create a conducive learning environment for a learner. Therefore, for the government to narrow teachers’ performance to only subject content is erroneous and a misunderstanding of the teaching profession.
If the government considers imparting academic content to a learner as a sole role of a teacher, it’s very irrational.
All teachers irrespective of their subject content specialisation, supervise extra-curricular activities, personal hygiene of learners, inculcate discipline and encourage spirituality of learners. Therefore, which yardstick did the government use to arrive at the deduction that Science teachers ought to be paid more than Arts teachers?
Suffice to note, by human nature, all learners have different abilities, interests, and passion and life dreams. Thus, for the government to believe that learners should be science directed is psychologically misleading, unnatural and insensitive to the needs of learners.
Above all, the various disciplines contribute equally to national development. For instance, medical people need social workers in their outreach programmes, they need counsellors, journalists to disseminate certain health information to the populace, and hospitals need accountants and administrators.
We equally see successful folks who took non science courses like sportsmen, musicians, actors, comedians, lawyers, and many journalists.
Believing that taking sciences only is sine qua non for life success of citizenry and national development is utterly wrong.
If we are to borrow a leaf from developed countries, all disciplines are given equal attention. In fact, they start observing the learners’ interest from kindergarten and provide a learning environment to unlock their full potential.
Additionally, some Arts subjects tend to have “positive cross subject border effect” for a learner to perform, for instance, English language cuts across. You can’t understand sciences when you can’t conceptualise and interpret its content. A teacher of Fine Art helps learners of technical drawing, geography, biology, chemistry, physics and maths to use the drawing skills to do well on certain topics in those subjects. Where is the pay rise for the English or Fine Art teacher for their contribution? The designers of the new secondary school curriculum knew that both arts and sciences are all equally needed.
Pertinent to say, if the government encourages sciences without art subjects that inculcate moral fibre in the generation like Religious Studies, then the nation is doomed.
Education without character values is like a body without a soul. Subjects that inculcate morality to learners are very important especially in an era of moral decadence punctuated with social ills like corruption.
Conversely, its okay for the government to promote Sciences vis -as-vis her national goals and priorities. But this can be tactical and uniquely structured to inform incentives such as practical allowances.
To plainly create huge salary differences between Arts and Science teachers triggers emotions and disharmony. Government can go further to give working allowances to scientists in the employment world to attract young learners to embrace sciences. Government has a multiplicity of options to promote sciences other than relying on one option full of demerits.
Our students missed a lot during the two-year Covid-19 lockdown thus it’s prudent that the government avoids any status-quo that makes our post Covid era disruptive, especially to learners. We gravitate to see this impasse ended as yesterday.
Hillary Igambirine, Former headmaster