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2020 Teachers' Appreciation Day by Comrade Akeem Lasisi

Distinguished Colleagues, on Oct 5, 1966, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and International Labour Organisation (ILO) held an intergovernmental conference in Paris, France, to expand the status of teachers, and at the end of the conference, UNESCO and ILO representatives signed recommendations for this conference.

For the first time, the recommendation described Teachers' Rights, Responsibilities and various aspects of the teaching profession worldwide.

On Oct. 5, 1994, UNESCO created the first World Teachers' Day to focus on teachers' participation and development and to highlight issues and priorities regarding education. 

The date of Oct. 5 was chosen to celebrate teachers internationally as it was the anniversary to adopt the 1966 UNESCO/ILO recommendation. In adopting this recommendation, Government realized the importance of qualified, competent and motivated teachers. 

Today is another World Teachers' Day which is also known as International Teachers' Day. We the entire teachers in Ogun State are the happiest beings on earth. We are happy because God has been fair and favourable to us to see this day.

The Coronavirus no doubt has adversely affected the global economy. It has forced many businesses - large and small scale - to temporarily shut down. Unfortunately, the education sector is at the receiving end of this global pandemic.

According to UNESCO, an estimated 1,725 billion learners have been affected as a result of school closure representing about 99.9% of the world's students population as at April, 2020.

My spirit is so lifted because no one among us would have thought today's celebration would be a possibility. It is a confirmation that Almighty God is not human. The COVID-19 pandemic has played a major role in downplaying this year's event hence, the low-key celebration.

This year's World Teachers' Day Celebration will be celebrated at Ogun ASUSS Secretariat VIRTUALLY on specialized Teams' Application which will be made available on all our platforms. Other activities lined up include the presentation of award and prizes to the eventual winners of our ASUSS' ONLINE BRAIN CHALLENGE, a special online essay writing competition with the topic THE WORLD ORDER HAS CHANGED DUE TO CORONA VIRUS PANDEMIC AND IT IS EVIDENT THAT A MASSIVE SHIFT IN EDUCATION ECOSYSTEM IS REAL. IMAGINE THAT YOU ARE APPOINTED TO OVERSEE EDUCATION SECTOR IN OGUN STATE, LIST THE TOP 5 AREAS YOU WOULD ADDRESS IN SECONDARY EDUCATION SECTOR POST COVID 19 AND HIGHLIGHT HOW YOU THINK YOU WOULD IMPLEMENT THEM DESPITE CONTINUOUS FALL IN ALLOCATION OR FUNDING.

The ASUSS' COVID-19 BRAIN CHALLENGE was in response to a 'Call for Action on Teachers' by the International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030,

which among others, advocates for teacher-related responses including a role in short, medium and long-term planning and policy making for the continuation of learning. I congratulate all the teachers that participated in the Brain Challenge. They are to be celebrated today. 

The event for this year's celebration had since kicked off with a Jumat Service at Abadiyat Central Mosque, Leme, Abeokuta on Fri, 2nd Oct., 2020; thanksgiving service at St Peter Anglican Church, Ake, Abeokuta on Sunday, 4th Oct., 2020 followed by Women Carnival on the same day.

While looking forward to a memorable VIRTUAL 2020 WORLD TEACHERS' APPRECIATION DAY, it is our utmost desire that Government will pronounce 'some goodies' to our happiness at this auspicious time to serve as a legacy gift for us to mark the day.

For Secondary School teachers in Ogun state, so much water has passed under the bridge in the past few years with our rights and privileges either being long delayed before they were released or considered last in the scheme of government programmes. Our solace lies singularly in the fact that as at today, a man whose two parents are professional teachers and who also shares similar destiny with us is the democratically-elected Governor of our dear state.

The theme for this year's World Teachers' Day is: "Teachers: Leading In Crisis, Reimagining The Future" This theme has been carefully chosen as it considers teachers roles in shaping the future of Education and the teaching profession. 

The COVID-19 situation has brought out a lot of creativity in the profession especially in Ogun State. Our teachers suddenly turned to virtual Teachers using the Ogun Digiclass and several other virtual Platforms. Indeed, Ogun Secondary School Teachers under the Umbrella of Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools (ASUSS) have demonstrated great efforts in developing 21st Century skills in adapting to the new normal that we have found ourselves in. 

In the course of the COVID-19 crisis, teachers demonstrated great leadership and innovation in ensuring that learning never stopped. 

We have worked individually and collectively to find solutions and create new learning environment for our students to allow education to continue.

In some schools, teachers were required to conduct e-learning and virtual teaching but lack basic ICT tools in their own homes.

In other schools, we stopped virtual teaching because many households lacked the technology and connectivity to allow students to learn online.

We had the double duty of looking after our children at home and at the same time teaching our students online. Indeed, teachers also led in the crisis of COVID-19 pandemic.

Permit me at this juncture to openly thank the Ogun State Government for the commendable performance on OGUN DIGICLASS which was organised by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology during the closure of schools.

While other states folded their arms and resigned to fate, the Special Adviser on Primary and Secondary Education and her team thought out of the box and brought a superb e-learning and virtual teaching, which culminated into two assessment tests where several thousands of our students participated successfully.

The appointment of four of our senior principals as Principals-General across the state in accordance with His Excellency electoral policies did not go unnoticed. Let us note that this office was birthed by former Governor Gbenga Daniel but was made non-existent by former Governor Ibikunle Amosun.

His Excellency came and told us never to suffer heartaches because he would bring the office back to life. And true to his words, it became a reality with their swearing in on Wed., 30th Sept., 2020. 

His Excellency may not know the happiness and sense of fulfillment teachers have since felt over the re-creation of the office. Teachers do not forget good deeds as well as bad ones.

Secondary School teachers also appreciate the Government on the spirit of collective bargaining, in terms of give and take, that was allowed to strive throughout the negotiation at the last industrial dispute in the state.

The Government team demonstrated uncommon goodwill, commitment and sense of responsibility towards the workforce in the State.

I wish to place on records that the commitment and indeed sincerity of purpose the Government demonstrated during and after the negotiation was unprecedented in the history of Government-Labour relationship in the State. Rest assured of teachers commitment, cooperation, support and loyalty for the Government all the time.

However, it is important and expedient that Secondary School teachers bring to the front burners those issues that will produce more industrial harmony in our sector.

The Government MUST plant seeds that it will feed upon from 2023 if it makes real in no distant time its promises to workers in the Memorandum of Understanding it signed with the Organised Labour recently by commencing the payment of the negotiated minimum wage in October. 

We also appeal to Government to make realizable its promise of domesticating a special SCHOOLS EXCELLENCE AWARDS. His Excellency made this public when the Government hosted our colleagues who did Ogun State proud in last year's National Schools Award at Abuja. We thank the Government for rewarding the individuals and schools involved. This is novel and soon Ogun teachers will become the envy of our colleagues from other states of the country.

The Government had announced that 1,500 teachers would be recruited in Secondary Schools, we noted the process was put on hold because of Covid 19 protocols, we pray the recruitment is done in earnest so as to fill the existing vacancies. It is most essential as the N-power teachers have been disengaged from schools.

It will also be appreciated by Secondary School teachers if Patents Teachers Associations are encouraged to play vital role in advancing developmental growth of their children through well monitored financial donations.

The free education policy should be reviewed to accommodate the Old Student Associations, Corporate Organisations, Non Governmental Organisations and Community Leaders in funding education.

Finally, I wish to congratulate teachers all over the world most especially Ogun State teachers, particularly Ogun State Secondary Schools teachers who are lucky and privileged enough to have received God's grace and benevolence to see today. May this not be our last edition on earth. We shall live long enough to reap the rewards of our input. As we celebrate, let's ensure that it is not over until it is over. Let us continue to put in our best in the discharge of our responsibilities even when the environment and facilities are not world-class. We shall never labour in vain. 

Ogun state is famous for hard work, resourcefulness and unmatched heights in academic excellence. Let's sustain the glory.

Thank you.

Forward Ever! 

Backward Never!!

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Akeem Lasisi France ILO International Labour Organisation World Teachers' Day

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