As federal government intensifies plans to eliminate quackery in the teaching profession, fears have gripped many teachers and schools as the regulating body, Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), is set to implement the directive. What will be the fate of the affected public schools teachers and by extension private schools; TOPE SUNDAY and KEHINDE OSASONA ask in this report?
Today in Nigeria, it is believed that teaching is the last resort. According to those who hold the opinion, most of those teaching in the Nigerian public and private schools did not prepare to be teachers but they find themselves practising the teaching profession.
According to education.stateuniversity.com, in the past, to teach in a primary school a person needed a Teacher Certificate Grade II (TCGDII) from four years of secondary school at a Grade II Teacher-training college. These were phased out after 1998, when the Nigerian Certificate of Education (NCE) became the required diploma for all primary and junior secondary schools teachers.
In 1996, out of approximately 420, 000 primary school teachers in the country, about 80 per cent had either the NCE or TCGDII (equally divided between the two).
Also, to teach in senior secondary schools, a person must have either a Bachelor’s degree in education or a Bachelor’s degree in a subject field combined with a postgraduate diploma in education. However, a few teachers possess the NCE.
These days, some schools have been accused of employing non-certified teachers. This, some stakeholders noted, is because of cheap labour, while some disagreed. Consequently, the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN) is set to implement the 2006 directive of the national council of education that every teacher in Nigeria must be qualified to teach.
With this development, tension is heightened and palpable fears have gripped those who are not trained teachers.
In July 2018, the governor of Niger state, Alhaji Abubakar Bello, spilled the beans about the increase in the number of unqualified teachers in his state. The governor, who spoke at the academic day programme of the state’s Teachers Professional Development Institute Implementation Committee (NSTPDIIC) in Mararaban Dandaudu, said 60 per cent of teachers in the state’s public schools across the 25 local governments were not qualified.
The development, the governor said, had made the standard of education in the state low. Governor Bello, however, said the unqualified teachers would not be sacked, but rather sent back to school for retraining.
In Kwara state, a neigbouring state to Niger, it government in 2019, announced the plan to sack unqualified teachers in the state’s Teaching Service by December of the same year.
The deputy chairman, Kwara state House of Assembly Committee on Education and Human Capital Development, Mr. Olumide Awolola, who dropped the bombshell when the Civil Society Action Coalition on Education For All (CSACEFA) paid an advocacy visit to the Assembly, said the step was aimed at reforming the state’s education sector.
He said a circular had already been issued to that effect, adding that the sack of teachers without professional qualifications would be carried out alongside other initiatives to restore the lost glory of the education sector.
What El-Rufai said
In 2018, Governor Nasir El-Rufai sacked over 22,000 teachers in Kaduna state. His action was met with stiffer resistance by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and Organised Labour, but he sailed through.
In his argument, the governor explained that the affected persons were dismissed from their jobs because they were unqualified, saying that the sacking of incompetent teachers did not start with his administration, adding that previous governments also did likewise.
According to him, the report he received at the resumption of office from the Education Sector Support Programme in Nigeria (ESSPIN) showed that 83 per cent of the teachers scored less than 25 per cent in Maths and literacy exams.
“The Kaduna State Executive Council, at its August 8, 2012 meeting, after considering the report of the verification committee, gave a five-year window for under-qualified teachers to acquire the Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE).
“This five-year grace period has now expired, and that is why this administration weeded out teachers who didn’t have the requisite skills and qualifications to teach,” he said.
Governor El-Rufai also recalled that the 2015 ESSPIN report on pupil and teacher competence levels showed that 83 per cent of the teachers scored less than 25 per cent in Maths and literacy exams.
He stated that primary two pupils scored an average of 14 per cent in English and 27 per cent in Maths, while primary four pupils scored an average of 13 per cent in English and 17 per cent in Numeracy.
“The government responded to this report by getting the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) to conduct a survey of teacher competence. We took further steps to address these gaps by training and retraining the teachers.”
In 2019 during the induction of over 200 education graduates at the University of Ibadan, the Registrar, Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), Professor Segun Ajiboye, re-echoed the federal government stance that unqualified teachers would be flushed out of the Nigerian classrooms.
According to him, the quacks teaching Nigerian children would be thrown out and replaced by qualified and certificated education graduates who would help mould sound future leaders for the country.
He said, “For us to get quality education, we need to get quality teachers. So, with the recent approval of teachers’ career path by the National Council on Education, we now have a separate and unique career path which will enable us stand shoulder to shoulder with other professional groups in the knowledge driven economy.
“It is worthy to stress the importance of today’s induction ceremony in line with government directives. The federal government has directed that by 31st of December 2019 all unqualified people practising the profession of teaching would be swept from the classroom and their place would be occupied by young and vibrant professional teacher like you.
“We need to appreciate the fact that education unlocks the key to modernization, but the teacher holds the key to that door. He is the hub of any educational system and the major determinant of its quality. Teachers alone accounts for about 70 per cent of what the child learns.”
Also, while briefing reporters on the sidelines of the presentation of a draft roadmap tagged: ‘Education for Change: A Ministerial Strategic Plan 2016-2019,’ The Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, was quoted as saying; “Henceforth, only qualified teachers who are duly registered, would be allowed to teach in the country.
Adamu said the move became imperative in order to ensure professionalism, and decline in teaching profession.
“Teacher education itself is dying simply because non-professionals have now become teachers. Therefore, the professionalisation and registration of teachers will help make sure that the profession is reorganised with quacks kicked out.
Adamu said TCN is in the forefront of ensuring that only qualified and registered teachers would be allowed to teach.
“Nobody should be employed as a teacher if he or she does not have a teaching qualification; there is no magic if you are not qualified as a teacher: you cannot teach.”
Also, the permanent secretary in the Federal Ministry of Education, Sonny Echono, insisted that the December 31, 2019, deadline to disengage unqualified teachers in country remains sacrosanct.
He nevertheless stressed that the disengaged teachers would have opportunities of still sitting for the examination with a view to getting certification and present themselves for re-engagement. The exercise, according him, would be a continuous one.
Will private schools comply?
As the day of reckoning beckons, some private schools are yet to notify their teachers who are yet to process the required certificates, while the TRCN has declared there is no going back on its action.
Findings by Blueprint Weekend revealed that some high-profile private schools in Nigeria employed teachers who possessed teaching related-certificates but some of them are yet to be certified by TRCN.
A teacher with one of high-profile schools at Wuse District in Abuja, who did not want her name in print for the fear of being reprimanded by her employer, said she possesses a Nigerian Certificate of Education (NCE) and confirmed to this medium that she is yet to be certificated by TRCN.
She claimed that she sat for the TRCN’s examination in December in 2019, but failed, adding that she had been given another opportunity to re-sit for it.
The source said her school had directed all those that are yet to be certificated by TRCN to do so, saying that ultimatum, which she did not disclosed to this medium, has been given to them. Also, she said her school doesn’t employ people that do not possess education-related certificates.
“I am an Abuja-based teacher and my school is located in Wuse district of Abuja. I hold NCE certificate but I am yet to be certified because I failed my examination in December 2019. I have been given another opportunity to re-sit for it.
“My school has issued an ultimatum for all of us to be certified by TRCN with a threat that those that will not comply will be eased out,” she said.
Another teacher in Jahi District told Blueprint Weekend that his school doesn’t employ anybody without education-related qualification, but declined to comment on whether he had been certified by the TRCN or not.
However, investigations conducted by our reporters revealed that some mushroom private schools are guilty of employing holders of secondary examination certificate, National Diploma and National Diploma as teachers.
According to an Abuja-based journalist and public affairs analyst, Olalekan Awojodu, the majority of teachers in those schools will be affected by the TRCN directive.
“I am of the opinion because of the standard that has been set by the some of the big private schools in Nigeria; the TRCN directive may not affect the majority of teachers in those schools. But my greatest fear is for the all the mushroom private schools in the country.
“Some of them are employing SSCE, ND and HND holders as teachers and they will be paying them peanut as the monthly take home which cannot take them to anywhere. I am afraid, they may not survive the war being launched against quack teachers by the TRCN,” he said.
Speaking with this reporter in Abuja, TRCN Registrar, Professor Josiah Olusegun Ajiboye, said the decision of the National Council of Education in 2006 subsists.
According to him, in 2015 the council again reiterated its position that any teacher who is not registered and licensed by TRCN would be shown the way out of the teaching profession.
“These warnings were re-echoed in Abuja and Port Harcourt by the regulatory body, where deadline of December 31, 2019, was given to all teachers.
“Now that the deadline has ended, the process for enforcement and compliance has commenced and we have on ground. Monitoring team of professorial status, technical committee and competent staff in each state will move round to enforce the directive in all the 36 states of the federation and the FCT by the end of January.
“Don’t also forget that TRCN mandate covers both private and public schools, and we also have a comprehensive data from UBEC that we intend to include in monitoring teachers in all its ramifications.”
When asked whether there is a plan to convince state governments to embrace the move or not, Ajiboye stated that both government schools and private school owners would be provided with a data/statistics of numbers of unqualified teachers in their domains.
Are there enough qualified teachers?
Ajiboye restated that the country is not lacking in the number of qualifying teachers.
He said, “Let us look at it this way, when we remove these quacks from the classrooms, various state governments would be able to employ those that are qualified to replace the unqualified ones.
“If you cannot get enough qualified and licensed teachers in your state for instance, you can go to another state to recruit qualified teachers and even go outside the country.
“For instance, years back, I was employed by the Katsina state government to come and teach there from Oyo state; that is the kind of situation that we used to have. So, a wind of change is expected after dealing with quacks parading themselves as teachers in our schools.
“I believe this time we will get it right and quality education would not be far-fetched in our system if we back teachers’ professionalism with proper welfare. That is where we are going.”
Labour unionist reacts
In a reaction, a labour unionist, Dr. Kayode Ehindero, who is also the executive director, the Nigerian Workforce Enlightenment Centre (NIWOSEC), described the professionalisation of the teaching as “a welcome development,” saying that it would give Nigeria’s education sector a global standard outlook.
However, he regretted that some Nigerians who have made sacrifice in the sector were on the verge of losing their jobs.
“It is unfortunate that some people who had sacrificed for the educational sector will now have to lose their jobs and be thrown out to join the already saturated labour market.
While proffering way forward, the Labour unionist said the situation calls for serious concern and attention, urging government to look into the idea of sacking people without giving them options.
“Nigeria should believe in the nation’s workforce and also respect the nation’s human resources.”