Stakeholders including parents across the country have called on government at all levels to ensure that only registered and professional teachers are engaged in the teaching service in Nigeria.
The stakeholders made this call and supported the position of Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN) to eliminate unregistered teachers by 2018, in a survey conducted across major towns and villages by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
The TRCN premised its decision to eliminate unregistered and non-professional teachers from the teaching service from 2018 on the need to boost the quality of education and eliminate quacks in the teaching profession.
The council said it has so far registered over 1.6 million teachers nationwide, saying that it was irked by the situation where teaching profession was seen as a stepping stone for just everyone waiting for “a more serious job” elsewhere.
A NAN survey, however, showed that while many respondents applauded the decision, others said that it would not add much value to educational growth in the country.
An educationist, Prof. Ntiaobong Ekong, said that only professionalism would boost the standard of education.
Ekong, who is the Director, Institute of Education and Professional Development, University of Uyo, said that education should not be left in the hands of nonprofessionals.
Ekong noted that professional teachers were more committed in the discharged of their responsibilities to the pupils than non-professionals.
Ekong, who is a Professor of Agriculture Education and a former Commissioner for Education in Akwa Ibom, noted that professional teachers are trained teachers exposed to the rudiments of teaching.
He said that the registered and professional teachers had had certain standards and discipline inculcated in them through courses in educational psychology and teaching methodology.
“If you are not exposed to the basic principles and practices of education, the psychology and methodology of teaching, you cannot teach well,” Ekong said.
In Akure, Mr Solomon Igbelowowa, the Acting Secretary, NUT Ondo State, commended the TRCN for its initiative to flush out unregistered teachers in the country.
Igbelowowa said the aim of the TRCN was not to witch-hunt any teaching staff but to control and regulate the teaching profession in all ramifications by setting a standard for the profession.
“All professions in the country have their own regulatory bodies.
“We have the Nursing Council of Nigeria, Nigeria Society of Engineers and others which regulate activities of their respective professions, teaching should not be an exemption,” he said.
Prof. Noah Oyedeji of the Department of Educational Management, University of Ilorin, on his part, identified un-professionalism, government inconsistency and inadequate funding as anomalies affecting the education sector in Nigeria.
Oyedeji said that all stakeholders, especially education administrators should always bear in mind that quality education remains the bedrock of sustainable development.
The don recommended that all teachers, head teachers, principals, provost, rectors and vice-chancellors should acquire Post-Graduate Diplomas in Educational Management (PGDEM)
Also speaking, Prof. Adekunle Olorundare, the Dean, Faculty of Education at the university of Ilorin, said all teachers in science education must be professionals.
“I recommend that the professional preparation of our teachers at both College of Education and university levels should be re-examined and re-tooled to provide practical opportunities for teachers,” he said.
A cross section of parents across the six geo-political zones, however, called on TRCN to concentrate more on private schools in order to reduce quackery in the country and do everything possible to boost education standard.
Mr Bunmi Olaiya said most private schools were fond of recruiting non-professional teachers for teaching students because there had been no proper monitoring by the government to check their activities.
“Some private schools just hire the services of any graduate on the street not considering his educational qualification. This is killing the education system in the country,” he said.
Also speaking, Mr Musa Ibrahim, a parent, advised that the council conduct a proficiency test for teachers, especially those teaching science courses and English.
Another parent, Mrs Funmilayo Abiodun, said most private schools prefer ”cheap labour” and teachers who are not qualified to tutor students.
“It baffles me when you see someone that never went to the college of education or never studied any course under education becoming a senior teacher in Nigerian schools.’’ She said.
But a school proprietor, Mr Ayodele Michael, expressed concern over the decision of TRCN to weed out unregistered and nonprofessional teachers.
Michael said that the decision would negatively affect most private schools because “our workforce is mainly graduates who have little or no background study of education
“And I have noticed that they do a lot better than NCE or B.ED holders.
“What the government should do is not to remove them; government should rather create schemes that will incorporate these graduates into the profession.’’
In Osogbo, Alhaji Fatai Kolawole, the Permanent Secretary, State Universal Basic Education Board(SUBEB) in Osun, said the step by TRCN to purge unregistered teachers was long overdue.
The SUBEB boss, who decried the high prevalence of unqualified teachers in schools in the country, said TRCN must live up to its mandate by restoring sanity to the teaching profession.
“Our teachers need to be exposed to training from time to time for them to meet up to the international best standard in improving our education sector,’’ he said.
In Ado-Ekiti, Prof. Taiye Dare, an ASUU official, said the best thing that had ever happened to the education sector in Nigeria was the introduction of TRCN.
He, however, urged the government to give the council the needed impetus that would make it effective and efficient.
The Chairman of NUT in Ekiti, Mr George Akosile, said virtually all teachers in public primary and secondary school teachers numbering over 28,000 had been found to be qualified and consequently registered by TRCN.
However, education stakeholders in the North-East have lauded the move by the TRCN at ensuring the registration of all teachers with a view to eliminating quacks in the profession.
They told the NAN in Bauchi, Yola, Dutse, Gombe and Maiduguri, that the measure would sanitise the teaching profession, restore its lost glory and address the problems of falling standard of education.
Some of them, also, called for an extension of the time frame for the registration before the enforcement of the order.
They stated that in view of a large number of teachers without requisite qualification, one year was too short a time for unqualified teachers willing to make up for their deficiencies.
Mr Danjuma Saleh, Chairman, the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) in Bauchi, said his union was in support of the decision of the council to flush out non-professionals from the sector.
“NUT is fully part of the decision; before a member becomes registered, he or she must be qualified,” he said.
Saleh said that the state had no fewer than 56,000 primary, junior and senior school teachers and registration forms had been distributed to them.
However, Bauchi State Chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress(NLC), Mr Hashim Gital, reminded associations that membership of unions was voluntary according to the constitution.
Gital said that registration should not be imposed on any group of civil servants.
Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) in Jigawa, Alhaji Usman Yau, said he was also in support of the move to eliminate unregistered teachers in the teaching service.
The chairman said that the influx of people without qualifications and experience into the teaching profession was one of the major factors responsible for the falling standard of education in Nigeria.
Meanwhile, Alhaji Adamu Danjuma, Executive Secretary, Adamawa, Post Primary School Management Board, has urged the TRCN to extend the date given to unqualified teachers to acquire requisite knowledge.
Danjuma told NAN in Yola that the 2018 deadline was too short considering a large number of unqualified teachers in the country.
He said that at present, only 50 percent of teachers serving with his board had registered with the council.
Dr James Ngbale, Assistant Executive Chairman, Adamawa Universal Basic Education Board, also called for an extension of the deadline.
“The exercise is a welcome development because it will restore the lost glory of teaching in the country, by checking rampant employment of unqualified persons.
“The council should, however, extend the ultimatum to at least the next three years, to enable some educationally backwards states to catch up,” Ngbale said.
Also commenting, Dr Dilate Balla, Chairman, Association of Proprietors of Private Schools in Adamawa, commended the effort of the council, saying it would enhance the profession.
NUT’s Chairman in Gombe State, Mr Usman Dauda, also said it was in support of the exercise.
He said the decision of the TRCN was in good faith, adding that the grace period given for those affected to register was adequate.
He advised members of the union to further their education to enable them to satisfy the requirements.
Meanwhile, the TRCN said it had successfully registered over 40,000 qualified teachers in Borno.
Fatima Kyari, the Acting Coordinator of the council in the state, told NAN in Maiduguri that those registered included primary, secondary and tertiary school teachers.
“The registration is in line with the mandate given to us by our headquarters to get rid of quacks among teachers by registering those with a minimum qualification of National Certificate of Education (NCE).
“We have the capacity to enforce compliance on teachers in 2018; the enforcement is going to be a joint exercise between the TRCN and other relevant stakeholders like NUT, SUBEB as well as state Ministries of Education.’’
Kyari expressed regret that teachers in the state had not been adequately motivated, just as they were the worst hit by activities of insurgents.
Also speaking, Alhaji Bulama Abiso, the state NUT Chairman, said the union had directed all teachers in the state to register and collect their certificates before the deadline given by the TRCN.
Abiso explained that the challenges of education in the state reached its peak during the insurgency period as teachers were seriously affected by the activities of insurgents.
In Enugu, Prof. Cletus Agu told NAN that the deadline for registration of all teachers was not feasible with the realities on the ground.
Agu, a former Head of Department of Economics, University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), told NAN in Enugu that such a move was not a priority in educational reform in the country.
He noted that there are more germane and pressing needs and reforms that were supposed to be carried out in education at the basic and secondary level for now.