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EDUCATION

Making teaching in rural areas more attractive

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EDUCATION as a veritable instrument of change is the main contributor  in the development of  the human resources in the society, helping the people to maximize their potentials, abilities and  enables them contribute meaningfully to the growth of that community and share their accomplishments.

Education also unlocks the potentials in the citizens to contribute meaningfully to the growth and development of the community. Education is therefore the key to modernization and development.

The child is seen as a focal point or centre of the educational process, but then, the teacher is the facilitator who translates educational policies with practice and programmes into action and consequently, could best be described as the pivot of the education process. Teachers are a crucial component of any education system because they are the main determinant of the quality of the system.

Sometime last month, I went to a salon around my area to make my hair.  While I was there, a woman that I had known for close to six years came in and called out the owner of the salon. In the course of their discussion, I learnt that they had a business transaction that did not end well and therefore resulted to an argument.

In the process, the woman said, “you cannot intimidate me, I am not an illiterate, I am a civil servant, a teacher for that matter”. I was shocked. I could not believe that a woman     I had always known to be a shop owner somewhere and who is always at that shop is a teacher. What time does she go to school and in which of the schools is she teaching?

What damage is her long absence from school causing the children? What are the school authority and indeed the government doing about her attitude to work? When I began to ask questions, I found out that she was posted to one of these rural schools, where the roads are not really accessible.

According to her “I manage to go to school three times in every month because the road to the school where I am currently teaching is simply bad, and I cannot relocate to that village because I am having some health issues that I need to be meeting with my doctor on regular basis, and you know, I cannot be doing that in that village.

So they have to be managing me that way. After all, I kicked against the posting in the first place, plus it is only Biology that I teach”. To say that I was shocked was an understatement. Again, the question that begs answer is, “who is to blame in this?”

Airing her views on why teachers in rural schools are not dedicated to their job, Mrs Odonye Theresa, a secondary school teacher said, “since there are inadequate or lack of basic amenities in the rural areas, teachers find it difficult to go there to teach and those who are there by compulsion, do so with mixed feelings, and as a result, the quality of education in rural areas can never be said to be at par with that of the urban areas. It is established that poor teaching produces poorly educated children.

The poor distribution of amenities and infrastructure in those rural areas develop negative attitude towards teaching while schools in the urban areas are most times, overstaffed. But then, some states like Anambra, have attempted to make teaching in the rural areas of the state more attractive through the use of incentives.

The state added 20% of teachers salaries to teachers posted to rural areas, plus other incentives.  But to me, this is not enough.  For a teacher that is posted to a rural area to perform effectively in his/her new area of assignment, he/she is expected to relocate to that area. That is where the provision of teachers’ quarters near the school premises, with basic amenities comes in. We all know that in most of these villages, one hardly finds a decent accommodation with at least basic amenities.

“Again, rural teachers often have less access to support services than their urban counterparts, less opportunity to attend in-service courses (trainings, workshops and seminars), in some cases, they also have difficulty in accessing books and materials, because most of the libraries in these rural schools are filled with outdated books.

One can also access materials and information from the internet, but the network coverage in these areas is something else. So, it is necessary for government to devise a means to always include these teachers that are posted to rural areas in whatever training towards professional advancement going on with their urban counterparts. This will help in bridging the gap between township life and village life for the teachers”.

Surprisingly, Mrs Iwuoha Ijeoma, a teacher in Community Primary School, Amanuke, have a different view about teaching in a village school.  According to her “Most teachers complain about teaching in the villages because their teaching orientation is faulty.

In teachers’ training classes, the first thing you learn is that the work of a teacher is synonymous with that of a builder and it is sacrificial in nature. A teacher that is expecting his/her pay or reward to be at par with his/her input will not go far.

We all come from one village or the other. We all know that in villages, one does not get everything one wants, even if one has the where withal. Therefore, if a teacher has the right orientation, the teacher will know that even in the worst of cases, he/she is expected to make do with what is on ground.

More so, if the teacher that is posted to a rural area knows that he/she is moulding boys and girls who will mature into men and women that will one day change the history of that little village without basic amenities to a town that has it all, they will willingly do their work with passion, even with the little that is on ground.

For me, it is 25 years now since I took up the teaching appointment. In these 25 years of service, it is just once that I got the opportunity to be posted to an urban primary school, even though I stayed there for only three years before I was posted back to a rural school, I did not complain.

The problem with many teachers that are posted to rural schools is that they already have a certain mindset about teaching in rural schools even before they are posted. So whenever they are posted to rural schools, they spend all their time kicking against the posting and seeking for transfers even before they settle down.  So they do not have the time to appreciate these unique environment and set of people.

“One of the greatest benefits of teaching in rural communities is that they are largely supportive of teachers in their schools. Most teachers are socially accepted in these rural communities. Students and parents in these areas have higher regard for the teaching profession than their urban counterparts. Then, check out the parental cooperation, friendly population, good physical and family environments, plus a good rapport between teachers and students, one can always see that it is better than that of the urban areas.

“Some young girls complain about the slim opportunity of getting married while teaching in the villages. But for God’s sake, living and teaching in a rural area does not mean that the teacher is ostracized; he/she have plenty opportunity to visit towns as often as possible.

Even though we are still hopeful that the government will do more to ease the pains of teachers in the rural areas, but while we wait, it is good that we manage the little resources we have at hand to make the best out of these kids.”

Also, Mr Nwogazi said, “most teachers that are posted to rural areas see the posting as an opportunity to engage themselves in various businesses, because they are not adequately monitored. Most of them lack the zeal and the right attitude to work that granting all their requests will not boost their dedication to work. But then, if the state government will in addition to the incentives given to these teachers in rural areas, will also look into these rural roads, most of which are not accessible,

especially now that we are in the rainy season, at least look into some of their complaints (supply of teaching materials, teachers quarters with basic amenities, accessible roads, libraries with modern books, working first aid box etc), I think it will make teaching in rural areas more attractive for the few sincere ones.

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