The presiding Bishop of the Redeemed Evangelical Mission (TREM), Dr. Mike Okonkwo has said that for the nation’s education sector to improve, teachers’ welfare packages must be better. He said one of the major steps towards addressing the rot in the education system was to improve welfare packages for teachers.
The Bishop who spoke with some Journalists at his Gbagada, Lagos church’s headquarters, said that there is need to make teachers feel good so that they can teach students without much difficulty. According to him, if teachers were taken care of, they would teach the children with their hearts and the standard of education will certainly get better.
He said one of the things he would want to change in the nation’s educational sector was the improved welfare package for the teachers, as what teachers earn now is not really enough. According to him, we have examination malpractices because teachers want to survive, and that is why they insist on students buying handout whether they read them or not.
“Whether students read or not, teachers will want them to buy handouts, even when there are not standard “he added. In addition to that, he called on Nigerian government to review the nation’s education curriculum to be in tandem with present day realities. According to him, ‘if moral education has been removed, we should put it back to teach students moral education, there are many things begging for attention today in our country” he said.
He said, we should go back to the kindergarten and the nursery and start teaching the children moral values . “I remember saying to late Prof. Dora Akunyili when she was talking about rebranding Nigeria. I called her and said this is an opportunity to raise a new generations of new Nigerians.
I said leave people in the university and secondary, let us go to the nursery schools and begin to put hope in the new breeds of Nigerians with a new set of thinking because right now those in secondary school, university, polytechnic and colleges of education have been made to believe that they are waiting in line to come and steal their own money.
When you breed a new set and let them know that hard work pay, you will see that in the next 15 years, we will have a new breed of Nigerians that have been raised, who are thinking differently” he said. According to him, can any person imagine a white boy coming outside to urinate in a public place? It is not possible He said they cannot do it, no matter how they are pressed, because they knew that they don’t urinate in the streets.
He said, if these new breeds are raised, in the next 15, 25 years the country will see what Nigeria becomes “We need a new breed that will understand that engaging in examinations malpractices is bad. We need people who will understand that cheating in examination is an abomination. We need young generation who will read to pass their examinations and they will also know that there is dignity in reading and passing examinations” he said.
When asked to comment on the success of annual Bishop, Mike Okonkwo essay competition, he said it has been very healthy, at times it very difficult to believe that these children actually wrote are those essays. According to him, the competition is for both Christian and none Christian.
“There was one of easiest who emerged the overall best , his is a Muslim, went into the university and then went to Oxford, some of them are really making impact in society because of the competition has made them to think extensively and creatively . On why he has not establish a university when almost all his compatriots have established schools,he said, he doesn’t have anything against establishing universities, but does not believe that everyone must have a university.
“Sometimes, all things come down to competition, you see when you get involved with what God did not commission, you pay for it, because you will go to any lent to make it work. I will not be ready to stand before God tomorrow and start telling him I manipulated my way to do what He never commissioned me to do” he said.
Okonkwo said that he has passion for vocational education, where people make use of their hands to eke a living and he has been encouraging that in his little way over the years. ’Nigerians don’t know how to do things with their hands, look at all these hardwares that come in from Italy, we can’t fix them well, they will only work for two days.
We can’t do good tiling, our bricklaying is not straight, you call a plumber to do something for you, he is not ready to do it well. We are too much in a hurry. The West African sub-region is a heavy market for Nigeria because of our population. We should be exporting our shoes, all these shoes made in Aba, we should perfect it. My thinking is how we can fine tune the skills of our people so that they can be self employed and employers of labour” he said.