As the deadline issued to teachers to get certification expires, the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN) has lamented that more than 50 per cent of those currently teaching in primary and secondary schools nationwide are still not qualified to be in the classroom.
The Registrar and Chief Executive of TRCN, Prof Josiah Ajiboye, said it is worse in private schools.
The newly reappointed Ajiboye said apart from the fact that these so-called teachers, particularly those in private schools are not qualified, they are simply not registerable by the council.
According to him, teachers in this category do not have basic teaching educational qualifications, which is the National Certificate in Education (NCE) as stipulated by the National Policy on Education.
Ajiboye said whoever is to be engaged as a teacher in any school in the country either public or private, must possess a minimum of NCE plus TRCN certificate.
The TRCN chief said the two certificates are mandatory and none is optional for teachers’ recruitment, as evidence has shown that professional teachers perform their duties more committedly.
“So, those without these two certificates are not supposed to get teaching employment, let alone be in the classroom teaching,” he stated.
He said school owners are aware of this policy and wondered why they have continually flouted it, saying this is the standard practice in developed countries and Nigeria cannot be an exception.
Ajiboye alleged that some school owners, especially private-owned, are not complying with the policy as they still engage secondary school leavers as teachers.
He insisted that those who want to continue as teachers or want to come in newly must be professionals, hence must do the needful to be part of the system.
Ajiboye said the council would soon resume its enforcement policy, which started in February 2020 and halted midway due to the COVID-19 pandemic and general lockdown.
“So, we are waiting for the COVID-19 crisis to subside considerably for us to resume the exercise and sanction schools and teachers that are not complying,” he said.
TRCN had set December 2019 as the deadline for teachers nationwide to get certified or quit the profession. The deadline was later extended till July 2021 to accommodate more teachers.
Prof Ajiboye insisted that no fresh deadline would be given again to enforce compliance.
The TRCN chief said for Nigeria to improve on its developmental strides, it must sanitise, invest in and monitor its education sector.
To do the needed clean-up, Ajiboye enjoined all concerned to support the fight to rid the nation of unqualified teachers and ensure professionalism in the sector.
Ajiboye said teachers were critical to the human and capital development of every nation, hence their qualification and standard process must be accorded the highest form of scrutiny.
He said the qualifying examination and mandatory licensing of teachers before they can practice has begun to expose quacks in the sector and strengthen the quality of teachers in Nigeria.
He said Nigeria could only develop if it increases the quality of its teachers as well as the methods of teaching and learning in schools.
“A situation where anyone whether qualified and unqualified is free to stand in front of a classroom to teach is sheer anarchy and Nigeria is already paying a big price for that neglect of the sector.
Ajiboye maintained that the success of every educational enterprise in terms of quality depends largely on the supply of professional teachers in the right mix to man the various levels of education in society.
While lamenting the damage being done to the sector by quacks, the registrar said the council would not relent in “weeding out those who assumed that the teaching profession is an all-comers affair.”
He advised schools to prioritise training and retraining of teachers for efficient delivery.
Senior Programme Specialist Education, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Regional Office, Abuja, Mr Mamadou Lamine, said the role being played by the agency was to help reposition the education sector in Nigeria.
He disclosed that UNESCO’s work regarding the development of teachers was specifically in five areas, which include monitoring of international normative instruments regarding the teaching profession and supporting member-states in the development and review of teacher policies and strategies.
Others are developing capacities for enhancing the quality of teaching and learning; improving knowledge and evidence-based for implementation and monitoring of teacher targets in Education 2030. Lamine added that undertaking advocacy and knowledge sharing for the promotion of quality teaching and learning was also an area in focus.