Yakubu Dogara, Speaker of the House of Representatives on Wednesday assured Nigerian teachers that the National Assembly will increase their retirement age from 60 to 65 years as part of efforts to improve the standard of education across the country.
Dogara who gave the assurance during an interactive session with a delegation from the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), led by its President, Michael Olukoga, noted that the proposed review does not require Constitution amendment.
“We have done it for the tertiary institutions and the judiciary, so nothing should stop us from taking the bull by the horns. They say that wine gets better with age, it was the same consideration that motivated us to raise that of university lecturers, raise that of judges. So this is something we can pursue.
“Thankfully, it doesn’t require constitutional amendment, it is something we can achieve by amending the existing law. That is the responsibility of the Parliament and we assure you that we will do something about that so that the benefit that comes with experience and wisdom will not be lost,” he stated.
Dogara noted that the welfare and working condition of teachers must also be upgraded to enable Nigerian citizens compete with the global world and produce citizens that can achieve development that the country seeks.
“If we don’t have people who will sacrifice their time and energy to impart knowledge on our children, then like I said, we have lost the future. This government which is a government of change must be prepared to change the narrative by ensuring that teachers are motivated and the condition in which they work are conducive at all levels, so that they can deliver on their professional calling,” he added.
The Speaker also advised the union to channel their request for salaries of teachers to be handed over to state governments or paid from first-line charge from the federation account through the Universal Basic Education Commission to the Constitution Review of the House of Representatives for consideration.
Speaking earlier, Michael Olukoga, NUT National President appealed that the union prefers that in order to address the issue, “we want the responsibilities of paying the salaries of Teachers be handed over to State Governments in which case the salaries component of the revenue allocation of the Local Governments will have to be transferred to the states and restructure the fiscal allocation of our national resources in favour of the states to guarantee uninterrupted and unfettered primary education in Nigeria.”
He also urged the leadership of the House to include Teachers salaries into the first-line charge of the Federation Account which would be paid through the Universal Basic Education Commission.
“We teachers of Nigeria in primary and secondary schools do seek and demand that our retirement age be raised to 65 years to increase the teacher retention rate in our schools. This will help to check the rate at which experienced teachers are being lost in the school system whereas younger and prospective teachers are not recruited to take their place,” Olukoga appealed.
KEHINDE AKINTOLA, Abuja