Working Lives

Working Lives: The Teacher Who is Tired of Jumping Molue Buses

Working Lives: The Public School Teacher Who is Tired of Jumping on Molue Buses After Ten Years of Working in the Civil Service

“I have been teaching for over ten years and I cannot boast of a car or a house of my own. I live in a two-bedroom apartment in Ogudu. I struggle to pay the rent at times. I jump on Molue buses or chase danfo every day. I feel bad each time I think about all these struggles with no reward after ten years of working selflessly”

What is your name?

My name is Tiamiyu Adelaja. 

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Lagos Island. I am from Epe, Lagos State. 

Tell me about your family?

My father was a truck driver with one of the construction companies in the country. He retired in 1998. My mother supplies sand, granite and other building materials to construction sites. My parents live in Epe. I am the second and the only male child of three children. My sisters are married with kids. They live in Lagos State as well. 

Tell me about your education?

I had my primary education at Ansar-Ud-Deen Primary School and my secondary education at Lafiaji High School. After I graduated from secondary school, getting into a tertiary institution became difficult. I sat for JAMB a couple of times, passed but never got an admission offer eventually. All of my secondary school mates were already in their first or second year at the university. I felt really bad for myself but happy for them. Being the only male child, my dad tried all he could to make me happy. He knew I was not happy being at home so he purchased an NCE form for me at the Federal College of Education, Akoka. I got into the school to study Biology. After I completed my NCE programme, I applied to University of Lagos as a direct entry student. I got admitted to study Biology Education. 

Are you married?

Yes. I have a wife and four children. My wife works as a cashier in one of the commercial banks in Nigeria.

Why did you decide to train as a teacher? 

Teaching is fun. Growing up, I realized that I enjoyed imparting knowledge to children. I never wanted to become a professional teacher though, I wanted to become a medical doctor. I will say that fate brought me to the teaching profession. I started embracing teaching while at the university. I organized tutorials for students, and I also did home coaching for some students. After I graduated from the University of Lagos, I worked at different places. I needed money to survive so I accepted the jobs that came my way. I worked as a receptionist, a customer care representative, etc.

Also Read: Working Lives: The Primary School Teacher Who Has Not Been Promoted in 12 Years

How did you get your first teaching job?

The Lagos state government was recruiting in 2012. I submitted my CV at the Ministry of Education in Lagos. I had a friend who was working at the Ministry of Education at that time. He told me about the recruitment exercise and assisted me to get the job. He is currently in the United States with his family. I was offered the role of a Teaching Assistant in a primary school.

What was the salary and what do you earn now?

I was earning N27,000 when I started the job. Gradually, the government started increasing teachers’ salaries. For every Commissioner for Education we have had over the years, he/she would always make an impact by increasing teachers’ salaries. I cannot disclose what I earn currently. All I can say is that the Lagos state government pays teachers fairly well. We get our salary as and when due. 

Is your salary sufficient for your needs?

Not really. I cannot say that I pay my children’s tuition fees, house rest, feeding and other bills comfortably. I do not really earn much. My wife has been very supportive with paying the bills. I really hope the government will look upon teachers and grant us the benefits we deserve. Nevertheless, the hope of being paid a pension after retirement gives me joy.

What are the major things you spend on?

I spend on basic needs i.e., feeding, clothing, accommodation, tuition fees, etc. the Nigerian economy has really gone bad. Cost of goods have skyrocketed but salaries still remain the same. Before I collected my salary at times, there would have been a heap of expenses waiting. 

Do you have savings?

Yes. I have a savings account. I have not been consistent with savings lately. I usually save a particular amount monthly but I have a lot of expenses now, so I do not really save much.  

What other things do you do that fetches an income? 

I have no other source of income. I thought about it sometime ago to learn a skill and set up a business. However, I could not follow through with that idea. I guess I got carried away with taking care of my family.

Is the PTA in your school active? 

The PTA in my school is active. We made it compulsory to the parents. But it is a work in progress. A parent could stand for about ten children during PTA meetings. Some parents give the excuses of being too busy with work. So, they liaise with parents who want to attend to represent them. We see this happen a lot of time. At times, we tell students that we would deduct their marks if their parents do not attend PTA meetings. Parents do not take PTA meetings seriously anymore. I do not want to believe that they do not care about their children’s performances in school. 

What part of your job makes you happy?

Every teacher’s joy is to see his student excel. One of my students got me a birthday gift during my last birthday celebration. I was really surprised at such a kind gesture from a young boy. He later told me he told his parents to get the gift for me. I teach my students until I am certain they understand perfectly.

Why do you think even average Nigerians e.g., taxi drivers, do not send their children to public schools? 

Many people believe public school teachers are unserious. But they do not know that public school teachers are the most qualified. A lot of us have been adequately trained before we started teaching. What makes private schools stand out is English. You will see their teachers speaking American or British English and you think the school is of good quality. Some of the teachers in private schools are mostly dropouts or O’level holders but as long as they speak good English, they get employed. Many parents enroll their children in private schools because of the speaking culture in these schools. You could see a teacher teaching about five subjects or more in a private school. How do you expect such a teacher to teach students well? You can never see this in a public school. We have the “A teacher to a subject” policy. People need to be enlightened so they can understand that public schools give better quality. 

Also Read: Working Lives: The Aboki, Who after Four Children Wants to become a Mechanical Engineer 

Can you describe some of the students whose success really made you happy?

We have an Old Students Association. Some of them were once my students. They are doing very well in their chosen careers now. The association organizes an end of the year party for the school every year. My old and present students are doing well. I feel proud and happy each time I think about them. 

How can the government make teaching more rewarding?

The welfare of teachers should be a priority. Sadly, the government is not doing well in that regard. Teachers should have access to free healthcare. I have had to pay a couple of times at the hospital. They said I had exceeded my free care for the year. Teachers should also have access to loans from the government. I have been teaching for over ten years and I cannot boast of a car or a house of my own. I live in a two-bedroom apartment in Ogudu. I struggle to pay the rent at times. I jump on Molue buses or chase danfo every day. I feel bad each time I think about all these struggles with no reward after ten years of working selflessly. The government should provide staff buses for all public schools. They should also organize meetings or get-togethers for teachers so we can air our challenges. 

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