It’s the general aim of education administration to ensure that the education system functions adequately and effectively according to the prepared plans and objectives of the system. The education system is controlled by people particularly teachers and it is the teachers who can transform the institutional objectives into reality. Anywhere, anytime, the education system requires that the system has the right number and kinds of teachers at the right places at the right time, capable of effectively and efficiently completing these tasks that will aid the system in achieving its overall objectives. It should be noted that teachers anywhere in the world are the most ever important input in any educational system.
However, primary and secondary schools in Gombe state are faced with numerous problems as the state swims deeper in National Examination Council, NECO, and WAEC mass failure. The basic objective of this write up is to highlight the problems of the teaching profession by analysing the present professional standing and administrative challenges in Gombe state.
It is agreed that our problem in Gombe state is hinged on government, that must provide education leadership. Many problems have been noticed especially of human resource management. No matter how clear the education implementation orders are, if the personnel responsible for carrying out orders lack the resources, knowledge, skills, motivation, sound reward system, promotions, performance management system, etc, to do an effective job, definitely policy makers and other critical stakeholders will be disappointed in the results.
The biggest challenge here is still the recruitment, selection and retention of the right caliber and quantity of teachers required for the operation of the system. It is very clear that the supply of instructional staff is grossly inadequate both in quantity and quality. It is also on record that the last time the state employed teachers was in 2017, five years ago. From this period to date, about 2000 instructional staff have left the service due to retirement, frustration, withdrawal or transfer of service, deaths, etc, long term study leaves inclusive. This is a dangerous precedence in any education administration and planning. After all politics, nepotism and ethnic affiliations very often discourage the rationality and objectivity in staff recruitment and placement.
Indeed, it is on record and common knowledge that teachers and indeed civil servants in Gombe state are the lowest salary earners in the North-east and may be by extension in the whole of Nigeria. This is indebatable when you compare salaries of civil servants in neighbouring states where you find gaps of N5000 – N15,000. Despite the often repeated high claim for prompt payment of salaries, the take home pay cannot take anybody home as low as it is coupled with high inflation, food insecurity, high series of state taxes on government services, insecurity etc.
Additionally, consideration must be given to the open poor working relationships between the political office holders and career staff in the education sector where instructional staff are seen and treated as second class citizens; master-servant relationship does not in anyway augur well for the system and the state. Teachers are often abused in political meetings and public functions by so called leaders.
Another problem is lack of implementation of instructional staff promotions after obtaining additional qualification(s) or meeting the periods of normal promotions with clean records. This is greatly killing the tempo, spirit, dedication, commitment, initiatives, innovation and zeal of the instructional staff and seriously working against key educational development indicators. Remember the saying that you can take a horse to a river, but you cannot force it to drink. No doubt, promotion is a right and when denied, injustice and gloom set in, and without justice, interest and self-discipline, the student:teachers performance ratio will surely be very low and far apart. Causes of staff drain in our schools may not be far-fetched from lack of motivation. He is frustrated and the consequent result is to leave the school or withdraw consciously or unconsciously his performance.
Job status and prospects for advancement are important to the teaching profession members, lack of job security and low probability of reward as manifested in low salaries, lack of implementation of promotions for about two to six years, hopelessness, mistrust, lack of job satisfaction etc are all stress inducing, dehumanising and demoralising. Whenever teachers meet, much of their discussion is negative, thus making teachers believe that there are no rewards for hard work and diligent work and no means to get rid of less capable teachers. All these affects teachers’ level of efficiency, effectiveness and job satisfaction.
One Prime problem is the existence of empty science Laboratories and Vocational and Technical School Workshops for practicals. The government seems to be more and more concern with construction of classrooms with poorly or non – equipped laboratories and workshops which are basic for effective teaching and learning in Science Primary and Secondary Schools and Technical colleges, coupled with irregular or complete absence of power supply due to one reason or another. This usually leads to increasing frustration and turnover.
Another serious problem facing the teaching profession in Gombe State is lack of payment of gratuities and death benefits for both Primary and Secondary School retired and death teachers, at least for the past seven to nine years. The Gombe State teacher remains among the most poorly paid in this regard. He does not enjoy any degree of security as others, but yet his services as a teacher are indispensable. This inevitably creates lack of hope in the future and in most cases the fast causes of high blood pressure, Diabetes, inferiority complex, hopelessness in the service and society, withdrawal of pupils and students from school, insecurity, etc because they cannot afford school fees.
A survey conducted recently reveals that in Gombe State those in the teaching profession, because of the way and manner teachers are handled or managed by successive governments, went on to categorise the types of individuals in the teaching profession to include mostly; those who cannot make good elsewhere but because they have the minimum academic qualification required join the teaching profession from necessity rather than choice and those who had Secondary or NCE education but have been disqualified for further education studies because of poor academic records.
Similarly, the working conditions in the teaching profession have not been attractive as in others. According to Fafunwa (1967:84) “poorly trained teachers will produce poorly trained doctors, lawyers, engineers, architects etc since teachers directly influence the quality and quantity of services provided by all other trades and professions. Poor teachers tend to reproduce their own kind just as good teachers tend to reproduce their own kind.” Therefore, Government and the whole society should take note. The school boards, commissions and administrators do not teach or deliver educational services in a direct way. They only do so through a group of able and dedicated teachers. The desire of most teachers to engage in a rewarding activity is the most valuable resource available to any educational system for getting its work done.
Conclusively, equally important is the fact that human propensity to work can be dampened or even killed if busy work and mindless drudgery replace meaningful work, if workers are not able to see the value of their or the good results of their efforts; if they fail to win recognition for good work; or if they are treated like cogs in a machine. If these happen, work alienation results, which is characterized by grousing, gloom, absenteeism, high turnover, low morale and productivity, alcoholism, drugs abuse, insecurity etc.
Therefore, the major challenge to Gombe State Government is to help people do what they naturally want to do, to work and be recognized, rewarded, promotions implemented and paid their compensations as and when due as great contributing members of the society and the school system. Of all the 14 items listen in the present government’s education policy thrust and strategy, 70 per cent are yet to be implemented including providing critical learning facilities and equipment in all primary and secondary schools and recruitment of qualified teachers, welfare of teachers, comprehensive training and retraining of teachers, etc.
Ibrahim Hamman Degri (FNIM)
Chartered Management Consultant of Principal Consultant
Hamman’s Management Consult