The Kaduna State Government, on Wednesday advised teachers in the state to strive to improve their professional status, for effective service delivery.

Gov. Nasir El-Rufai made the call at the 2016 World Teachers’ Day Celebration in Kaduna, with the theme, `Valuing Teachers, Improving Their Status.’

The governor disclosed that teachers had not been accessing the provisions made by government for teachers’ professional development.

He said that the government had set aside funds for teachers’ professional training in local and foreign institutions.

“I want to hear teachers applying that they want to upgrade to masters or doctorate degree, but no one is applying and the fund is just lying dormant,” El-Rufa’i said.

He said that the state had allocated 35 per cent of its 2016 budget to education, far above the 26 per cent recommended by UNESCO, to reposition the sector for quality service delivery.

El-Rufa’i commended the National Council on Education for approving the re-introduction of History and Religious Studies in all Nigerian schools.

The governor was represented at the event by the Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Prof. Andrew Nok.

The Guest Speaker, Dr Benjamin Gugon of Kaduna State University, advised the government to introduce reward system, to motivate teachers.

He also called for special salary package for teachers in the country.

Gugon, in a paper entitled, `Valuing Teacher and Improving their Status’, said teachers must display exemplary conducts, to earn respect of pupils, community and government.

Earlier, the state Chairman, Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), Mr Audu Amba, equally urged teachers to always update their knowledge in tune with current best practices.

Amba commended the state government for its consistency in paying teachers salaries, at a time most states were unable to meet the salary obligation of their workers.

He also applauded the government for upgrading teachers’ terminal salary to grade level 17, equivalent to that of permanent secretary.

The NUT boss, however, called on the state government to settle the 2015 Leave Transport Grant of primary school teachers, which was yet to be paid.

“Similarly, with the series of verification over, and genuine staff determined, arrears of their salaries should be paid immediately to cushion their hardship,” Amba said.

Also speaking, the Head of Service, Mrs Alisabatu Dada-Onazi apologised to teachers in the state for the pains they had to endure during the verification of their employment status.

She said that 9,000 teachers out of over 77, 000 in public primary and secondary schools were found to have “questionable” employment status.

Dada-Onazi assured that the affected teachers would be reinstated once they were able to prove the genuineness of their employment.

She promised that the government would settle the arrears of the teachers leave and transport grant for 2015 and 2016.

The head of service urged teachers to be more committed to their duties and support government efforts at repositioning the education sector.

Meanwhile, a teacher with Government Secondary School, Angwan Boro, Mrs Rahab Yahaya, has called for improvement in the salaries of teachers.

She said that the current take home pay for teachers was “very poor”, stressing that enhancing the salary package would help to retain competent hands in the profession.