Resume paying teachers in Nigeria their owed salaries

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What every child needs to develop and grow to their full potential is a loving family and a quality education. But one essential part of that is not happening for many children in Nigeria - not only does Nigeria have 10.1 million children out of school, but many of those children in school are receiving a sub-standard education due to the fact that many state governments are not paying teachers salaries. Many state governments say that this is because there are unverified workers, or "ghost workers" (meaning teachers who the school authorities say are working there but aren't, meaning that too much money is being given to schools for salaries).

I just returned from 8 months working on an education project with the organisation VSO, on the ICS programme, which is funded by the UK government. I came to be good friends with many people in the community and was told first hand how the situation has affected the whole town. I was based in one of many states, Kwara, where the teachers are not being paid and I saw the devastating effects that this is having on the children's education and development. It made our job much more difficult to do as it was difficult to work alongside teachers who were already being unpaid and doing their jobs and who didn't want anything more to do.

UNICEF and other organisations have done a lot of work to try and verify how many teachers are working in each school, but the pay situation hasn't changed and doesn't look like it will anytime soon. The teachers are told that they have to continue going to school every day to work, because if they don't then they will lose all hope of being paid. There are so many stories of the families of teachers suffering because there is no income and I've heard accounts of teachers children who have died of hunger and disease due to their lack of money to buy essentials such as food and medicine. On top of all of this, is no promise that the backlog of money owed to the teachers will ever be paid. The situation is getting more and more desperate for the families of teachers all over the affected areas, and the teachers have tried to find other means of income since they don't hold out any hope of being paid, some more successfully than others.

So, every day, the teachers go to school but they do so with the demotivation and halfheartedness that comes with not being valued as professionals or even paid for their work. And so, as I saw, the standard of the education is poor, more than poor. When children should be learning, they're playing in the classrooms or just sitting around doing nothing - yes, the teachers are there but they aren't actually motivated to be teaching the children valuable knowledge, and why should they?

We know that education is crucial to a child's development and the facts are clear:

One extra year of schooling increases an individual's earnings by up to 10%.

A child born to a mother who can read is 50% more likely to survive past age 5.

And all of this is coming from a country where the lawmakers are the highest paid in the world with their senators receiving a salary of $1.7 million and each member of their House of Representatives receiving $1.45 million.

And when you take into account that the average yearly salary is just $3,596 and then that figure starts to seem even more insane.

In order to solve Nigeria's problems (poverty, lack of education, lack of healthcare, terrorism etc), the first step is to educate the children. But how can this happen when there is "no money" to pay teachers? Something needs to change, and fast. This is why I am starting this petition and it's why you should sign it.

We, the people, have more power than we realise. If millions of us sign this and tell the Nigerian government to pay their teachers, then maybe they will realise how important it is.



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