Mass recruitment of teachers by UK government and matters arising

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Adamu Adamu

Recently, the United Kingdom (UK) planned to

recruit Nigerian teachers to work in British schools. ILIYASU A. UJI sought the views of stakeholders in the sector. 


The United Kingdom has listed Nigeria among African and Common Wealth countries whose citizens can apply for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) through the Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA), commencing from February 2023. 

Other countries to apply include Ghana, Hong Kong, India, Jamaica, Singapore, South Africa, Ukraine and Zimbabwe.

Following this notice, some Nigerians claim that the massive recruitment of Nigerian teachers by the British government would increase brain-drain and consequently weaken the sector. However, others see it as succour for Nigerian teachers who suffered from neglect in their fatherland.

TRCN boss reacts

It is interesting to note that data at Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN) website shows that about 350,000 Nigerian teachers are qualified for such employment from a pool of 1.5 million teachers.

TRCN registrar Prof Josiah Ajiboye applauded the UK government saying, “When we started these innovations in the teaching profession, we stated that our qualifying examinations would be of global standards and the UK has confirmed that with this policy.

“It is not only there, even from Canada, the United States and many other countries, we get enquiries on a daily basis. I don’t see it as brain-drain. The world has become a global village and people even work for firms in Europe while living here in Nigeria. Moreover, our people would gain insight there that could positively rub off on our society later.

“It is good for Nigerian teachers to have the opportunity to export their skills, but while it will be of personal benefit to the teachers, we must be happy for them, we should also confront the fact that it will be at a great loss to Nigeria’s future and prospects of national growth.”

Speaking at a one-day retreat on the state of education in Nigeria

organised by the Education Correspondents Association of Nigeria (ECAN) in Abuja, in November 2022, Prof Ajiboye said foreign nations seek Nigerian professionals because Nigeria’s education is one of the best in the world.  He reprimanded those who said the standard of education is falling and in bad shape. 

“Nigeria’s education is among one of the best in the world as at today, if not, why are Nigerian professionals going outside the country? Even this year alone, I have signed letters of professional standing for over 260 Nigerians going to teach in Canada alone and as of this morning; we have a letter from the UK head of their teaching council for a pro-formal letter of professional standing because they want to start taking Nigerian teachers massively.” 

He therefore called on the media to help the country in amplifying the positive values of the sector so that foreign countries would be able to read about Nigeria and appreciate its educational system, adding that Nigerian graduates in foreign universities are sometimes allowed to do doctoral degrees with a waiver on Masters.

From a cross section of Nigerians

Mr G. Odogwu, a public relations consultant said, “This is not just braindrain; it is economic sabotage because most of the teachers were trained in Nigerian public schools at subsidized fees by the government. So, after investing in these human capacity, the government loses its investment to a foreign nation, it’s a sabotage.

A student at Nasarawa State University, Keffi Mercy Kuje said, “Many people are ignorant of the gains of the planned recruitment.  UK did not say the teachers are going to their country as British citizens. They are still Nigerians. When they retire, they are coming back to Nigeria with a wealth of experience. After all there are tens of thousands of unemployed graduates in Nigeria.”

Dr Fellina Nwadike, a distinguished academic at Admiralty University

of Nigeria Ibusa, Delta state asked, “Please what grades of teachers are being recruited? First, education is a fundamental human right. The world is shrinking to a global village. Second, nobody should be restricted to travel anywhere around the world as long as the one has the right documents to travel.

“Third, if the advert is real, UK government knows that it is election month, coupled with all kinds of atrocities, challenges and political vices spreading in the country currently.  People might use that opportunity to escape.

“Fourth, our system of education is in shambles across the country.

Nowhere is safe for children, women and youths.

“Fifth, The government may be aware as long as the information is from UK. They maybe in alliance. Please try to interview them. Maybe this is a source of escape for their families and friends.”

Dr Jatau Noma, director, FCT UBEB said, “I don’t know anything about this”.

The Proprietor, Milestone Kids Academy in Nasarawa, Dr Bayode Oluwatoyin said, “This would cause a great damage to the sector as the state of education in Nigeria is appalling. Its decadence is widely indescribable yet the only few outstanding ones would soon be carted away by a nation that gives credence to value. This action might lead to brain drain and lasting adverse effects.”

Dr David Ejima of the University of Abuja said,  “Government is aware

and not happy but there is nothing they can do. There is an existing

bilateral relationship that allows transfer of technology, of which we are one of the beneficiaries. We may go there as expatriates.

Although, I don’t know the condition of the offer.

“Government cannot come out openly to stop this move, after all,

we have many qualified but unemployed teachers. Even those employed are underutilised.

Sani Supah, a member of All Nigerian Conference of Principals of Secondary Schools finds nothing wrong about the recruitment. He asked, “What is wrong in going to UK to teach? Why wouldn’t I go to work in a

country which values the worth of my professional calling? Let me tell you, you are just making your noise. This is a bilateral agreement between nations. UK and Nigeria are in the Common Wealth, remember. It is good for Nigerian teachers. If I have the opportunity, I will go with all my immediate family members.”

Peter Okpomu, NUT member, Mararaba, Abuja suburb said, “It is now teacher’s turn and  everybody is asking why? Are the nurses and  doctors in US, Canada and UK more important than teachers? In this country, it is assumed that teachers do not deserve a better life.”

UK’s new partnership with Nigeria

It is important to note that the UK is forging ahead with new partnerships as part of its international education strategy.

Following the UK-India Enhanced Trade Partnership, it is now clear that Nigeria will be next in line for a deeper bilateral partnership

led by the Department for International Trade.

Nigeria, like India, represents one of the most populous Commonwealth countries where wider trade alliances can be brokered.

The UK delegation to Nigeria

The UK Government International Education Champion, Prof Sir Steve Smith, had led a high-level education policy delegation from the UK to Nigeria between 16 and 20 May, 2022.  They met with partners and stakeholders from across Nigeria’s education sector in Abuja and Lagos, to build on existing efforts to strengthen UK’s education partnership with Nigeria and in particular in the area of TransNational Education (TNE). TNE is an education delivered in a country other than the country in which the awarding institution is based. 

As one of the world’s leading providers of TNE partnerships,  the UK is looking forward to expanding its global network of TNE partnerships in Nigeria.  The visit of Sir Steve Smith and his delegation demonstrates the importance placed on ensuring that UK is well positioned to work increasingly closely with Nigeria to help expand its higher education sector, improve opportunities to upskill students and provide wider access to education for all Nigerians.

During their visit, the high-level delegation also met with the executive secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), Sonny Echono and Chief of Staff to the President, Professor Ibrahim Gambari where they discussed how to formalise collaboration to enable high quality transnational education partnerships with the UK and improve access to education for all children, especially girls.

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