Veteran labour leader and former National President of the Nigeria Union of Teachers, Chief Israel U. Nwokocha has said that teachers all over the world deserve the highest honours any nation can offer.
In a chat with African Heritage Magazine as part of its activities to commemorate the 2020 World Teachersâ€™ Day, Chief Nwokocha said that teachers sacrifice the most in terms of building sustainable human development and should be accorded the highest honours by government and society in order to encourage them.
According to him, â€œSustainable human development derives from a functional knowledge economy and the foundations for knowledge and enlightenment are laid and nurtured by teachers, most times in very challenging circumstances. The theme for this yearâ€™s World Teachersâ€™ Day â€“ Teachers: Leading in Crisis, Reimagining the Future â€“ echoes the critical sacrifice made by teachers all over the world towards ensuring that the mechanism of knowledge transfer does not come to a halt, especially as the world grapples with the realities of COVID-19. So when I talk of honours for teachers, I am not just talking about ceremonial recognitions but respect, favourable working conditions, timely payment of salaries and allowances, security, safety, promotions and general welfare of teachers.â€
Chief Nwokocha noted that no nation can grow beyond the quality of its education, which invariably depends on the quality of knowledge imparted by teachers. He said that government and society cannot continue cheating teachers who teach them, saying that â€˜the teacherâ€™s reward is in Heavenâ€™. He called on government to pay serious attention to the challenges of teachers and education in Nigeria, with particular emphasis on Abia State, noting with commendation the recent moves by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu to reposition the Abia State Polytechnic and provide a lifeline for Abia State University staff.
The octogenarian who hails from Nvosi, Isiala Ngwa South LGA, Abia State, is one of Nigeriaâ€™s oldest labour leaders and the only former President of NUT from the South East still alive. He served as the Chairman of NUT in the old Isiala Ngwa Local Government Area, State Chairman of NUT in the old Imo State, National President of NUT between 1988 and 1991, and Secretary of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Central Working Committee within the period.
He played a key role in the leadership of Abia State Movement, as Secretary of Organizations Committee, which drafted the Abia Charter of Equity. Among his numerous national and international awards, he was honoured in 2018 with the prestigious Enyi Abia title by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu.