The teaching profession is one that is most revered the world over. This is because teachers have become instruments that guide the people into attaining their goals and aspiration in life. However, the teaching profession in Nigeria has not had such luck of being seen as a noble job as teachers are mostly underpaid and sometime not paid at all.
The government has not been effective in providing and protecting the welfare of teachers. They are usually offered wages that are often seen as not commensurate with their labou even as their welfare is often not given deserved attention.
Moreso, the profession has also suffered a great deal from quacks who pick the classroom only as a last resort to make ends meet.
It is no doubt that if the teaching profession in the country continue to suffer these challenges, it will continue to spell doom for the education sector in the country.
Of course the need to reposition the teaching profession has continued to dominate discussions at different fora and this has engendered calls for strict adherence to professionalism as far as recruitment of persons into the teaching profession is concerned. Experts say one of the first steps to take is the certification of teachers. Perhaps, that was the reason the federal government gave teachers in the country, until December 2019 to work towards registering and obtaining the professional certificate of the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN) or face sack. The Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, has urged teachers to ensure they were qualified, licensed and registered before 2019 or be flushed out of the classrooms, stated that this was to ensure that quality teachers are in the classroom.
Adamu who was represented by the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Arc Sonny Echono, gave the warning while monitoring the 2018 Batch A Teacher Professional Qualifying Examination (PQE) organised by the TRCN, in June.
The TRCN is the body established by Decree 31 of 1993 (now Act CAP T3 of 2004). Several decades of agitation by professional teachers and other stakeholders for the establishment of a regulatory agency led to the enactment of the Act.
The Council is charged with the responsibilities of determining who teachers, what standards of knowledge and skills are to be attained by persons seeking to become registered as teachers and raising those standards from time to time as circumstances may permit.
It is also saddled with the responsibilities of securing in accordance with the provisions of the act, the establishment and maintenance of a register of teachers and the publication from time to time of the lists of those persons, regulating and controlling the teaching profession in all aspects and ramifications and classifying from time to time members of the teaching profession according to their level of training and qualification.
TRCN had within its mandate introduced the professional qualifying examination whereby teachers who want to register first sit for a qualifying examination before they are registered.
While speaking on the outcome of the exam and why it was important, the Registrar/Chief Executive, (TRCN), Prof Josiah Olusegun Ajiboye said, 83.2 per cent of the would-be teachers who sat for the 2018 (May Diet) examination in the 33 States of the Federation have passed the examination. He said the Council had a total number of 21, 882 candidates cleared for the examination while only 16,611 candidates eventually sat for the examination across the various CBT centres in the country adding that the result was an indication that all hopes are not lost over the moves towards restoring the lost glory of education in Nigeria. The Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Mr Micheal Olukoya seems to agree with the registrar on the importance of the teachers’ registration to the council, but lamented that the continues postponement of deadline to flush unqualified teachers out of the classroom, spell doom for the sector. “It is too far and long overdue. What is worth doing at all, is worth doing, excellently well. TRCN came into being over a decade ago and since that time, we the teachers especially the union have been at the vanguard that qualified teachers should be registered, to have a platform in which they can interact just like any other profession. We don’t want any quack because the teachers are saddled with the responsibility of preparing future leaders. So asking or allowing quacks to still be in our midst is not good especially in this digital age,” he said.
Olukoya is of the opinion that just as other profession have their council, teaching profession, which is the mother of all profession should not be left out, urging government to hasten in bringing down hammer on unqualified teachers. The NUT president, while lamenting the level of compliance especially in the private schools, suggested that the ministry of education establish education tribunal court and enforcement tasks force all over the country to visit schools, both private and public to flush out quack teachers, take them to the tribunal and to also sanction defaulting schools.
“The private schools are supposed to lead in this vanguard. Before anyone plans on establishing schools, they should try to read the law establishing it. Number one, the educationist or proprietor must recruit teachers that are qualified,” he said. Speaking to LEADERSHIP on the issue, the President of the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS), FCT Wing, Mrs Olushola Bankole, stated that the Association have always urged schools to encourage their teachers to register with the Council. Bankole however stated that emphasis should not always be made on certificates as there were teachers who had no background in education but had the passion for teaching and were doing extremely well in the classroom. “From our experience, the truth is that a lot of people who are passionate about education, because their parents wanted them to, they went and study other courses, and when they come out, they realize that they have the passion for teaching.What we really do is to give them a lot of training, the type of training we give them some of them that finished from the Colleges of Education and Education department in the university, they don’t know what it is to enter classroom and do the job,” she said. She added that the onus still lie on the government to make education a priority as most times, education is relegated to the background, even though it was the engine room.
“We need to keep training and retraining because we are also having issues with the society in general. How do they look at the teachers? Do they see us as never do wells who manage to study education? That is the attitude in Nigeria. If we are going to get it right, we should have intellectuals and those passionate to teach to be in the sector. Nations where they have quality educational system, like Finland, teachers collects the highest salaries. They are the best brains,” she said.
When LEADERSHIP interviewed teachers on the deadline, many of them claimed not to be aware of the issue. However, many in the public schools stated that they were already certified as it was a requirement of teaching in government schools.
“I did mine in 2005. It is a welcome development and would help a great deal to reduce quacks in our profession. It will give us more confidence and self-worth just like other professions in the world,” one of the teachers who refuse to disclose his name said.
The teacher who teaches in Junior Secondary School Government, Dutse Alhaji FCT said that government should also do well to make the teaching profession, worth while by increasing salaries and welfare packages.
A teacher from a private school in Maitama, Abuja however told LEADERSHIP that while he had heard about the TRCN and the importance of the registration, his school has not laid emphasis on getting the license from the Council.
“Our director have told us about it but we are yet to be registered. Years back, the school asks us to pay money so as to get the form, we did but never got the form. Now, I hear one needs to write exams. I haven’t thought to do anything about it for now,” he said.
While pruning the teaching profession of quacks is important, stakeholders believe that government needed to do lots more in making the teaching profession attractive and bringing it back to its former glory.
As per teachers meeting the deadline for registration, the nation waits to see what comes up December, 2019.
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