One of the challenges facing Nigeria’s education system is inadequate qualified manpower. This could explain the much talked-about falling standards of education.
It also goes to support the age-long adage, that “ no education system can rise above the quality of teachers.’’
Experts trace the low rating of teachers in the Nigerian society to the development. Unlike other academic disciplines that are highly competitive, there are scanty applications into faculties of education and colleges of education.
Former Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Peter Okebukola, restated the challenge of qualified teachers and identified reasons responsible for inadequate manpower.
At a lecture he delivered at Tai Solarin University of Education (TASUED) Ijebu-Ode,Ogun, recently, Professor Okebukola said, most graduate teachers are not professionals and are inadequately exposed to teaching practice while many of them cannot communicate effectively in English.
Okebukola also said that the low rating of the teaching profession manifested in the scanty applications for admission into education faculties and college of education.
He said that the pervasive notion is that only “academic dregs make up the bulk of teachers, both in-service and practising.
“In 2011, of the more than 1,300,000 applications for university admissions, less than five per cent applied for courses in education.
“Worse still, only few applications were received for the colleges of education. These data point to the lack of interest of candidates for a career in the teaching profession.
The former NUC Secretary, however, said that the “notion is highly contestable, given the high calibre, commitment and industry of a good number of teachers.”
He said the search for greener pastures compelled many highly qualified teacher trainers to migrate in the early 80s, leaving behind a large number of inexperienced lecturers in the universities and colleges of education.
Okebukola also identified the lack of motivation as one of the reasons for poor performance of teachers.
“The extrinsic motivation in terms of salaries and reward structure is pitifully low in spite of the attempt at parity with other workers in the public service, he said.’’
He stressed that an agenda for reformatting teacher education in Nigeria should go beyond improving teacher pre-service and in-service delivery system, to improving the working conditions and welfare of teachers.
The TASUED Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Segun Awonusi, decried the neglect of teacher education which he described as the bedrock of all educational attainment.
He said that all areas of human endeavour required teacher education.
“It is obvious that no nation can rise above the level and competence of its manpower. When teacher education is not well managed, the tendency is for the educational system to be adversely affected, he said”
He observed that what was introduced as a short-term crash programme for teachers had become permanent, resulting in producing teachers that are not competent in core subjects
Prof Kayode Oyesiku of Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ago-Iwoye, Ogun said many faculties of education and colleges of education are using outdated curriculum.
Oyesiku , a Professor of Urban and Regional Planning, said many teachers are teaching students with methods they learnt at least 15 years ago.
He said the nation has many specialised universities of agriculture, science and technology, but that the “building block of learning and knowledge, which is education, is conspicuously sidelined.’’
He attributed it to the poor image often ascribed to teacher education in the country.
Oyesiku suggested that every teacher should be encouraged to go for retraining in his or her subject area once in three years.
“My suggestion to this problem is that once in every three years, every teacher in primary and secondary school must go for retraining in a particular subject he or she is handling.
“This should be made mandatory through the respective state ministries of education. “This retraining should be packaged in such a way that it will be certificated, which will help to put the teachers on their toes, he said.
Oyesiku also said that any teacher aspiring to become a principal or headmaster must go for training in institutional administration and certified fit for the position.
Prof. Duro Ajeyalemi of University of Lagos identified the problems of the education system as inadequate basic infrastructure, over-crowded classrooms, inadequate learning and teaching materials and teacher incompetency, among others.
Ajeyalemi stated this at a two-day national workshop on “Counting Crisis of Secondary School Education in Nigeria: Confronting Old and New Challenges,’’ held recently in Abuja.
He said of all the listed factors, the “teacher factor had been identified as the most crucial.
“The majority of trainees are of low calibre in terms of entry qualification or interest; teacher training is often the last resort after failing to get into more lucrative and job-satisfying occupations.
“No wonder it has become almost impossible to convince good students to choose a teaching career.“
He stressed that for any teacher at any level to be able to contribute to national development, he or she must be empowered to provide information, communication and technology (ICT)-based training for students.
The don said the pedagogical courses must make the student-teacher carry out and master all the students’ activities recommended in the curriculum for each subject.
In addition, Ajeyalemi said there was the need for in-service programmes for teachers, stressing that the importance of in-service programme could not be over emphasised.
Education experts have spoken. Teacher education should be given the desired attention in order to check the falling standard of education in the country.
Adeoti, write for News Agency of Nigeria.