- Registrar: There’s need to rejig teaching profession
Following the December, last year, deadline by the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN) that teachers in public and private schools should pass the Professional Qualifying Examination (PQE) and be registered, the Council said there is no going back on the policy as the Monitoring Committee for Compliance will swing into action next month
here is no respite yet for teachers in Nigerian schools, who are yet registered and passed the mandatory Professional Qualifying Examination (PQE), conducted by the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN) as all uncertified teachers will soon be shown the way out of the system.
The move, TRCN said, is to sanitise the school system, was the result of several years’ efforts at riding the nation’s education sector, especially at the basic education and secondary school level of quacks, unqualified and unprofessional teachers in the school system.
In the last few years, there has been directive by the Federal Government that any teacher in the education system should acquire the required registration and professional license in order to be certified as qualified to teach in Nigerian schools.
With this policy, the year of purging the classrooms and the entire education system of unqualified and professional teachers is finally here, given the mandate that all teachers in Nigerian schools to get qualified or leave the system.
Meanwhile, to enforce the policy and ensure sanity in the system in line with global best practices, the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria under Act CAP T3 of 2004, originally TRCN Decree No. 31 of 1993, had in October 2017, introduced a mandatory Professional Qualifying Examination (PQE) for teachers with a view to weeding out quacks from public and private schools.
This, according to the Council, will set the standards that must be attained by all teachers in the country.
The mandatory Professional Qualifying Examination is an evaluation strategy that comes at the completion of pre-service education of all intending professional teachers, which is aimed at determining the level of competencies of the individual teachers to teach in the schools.
The examination, according to TRCN, is organised or conducted by a statutory body of competent jurisdiction to independently ascertain to what extent the individual teacher has accomplished the laid down benchmarks for admission into the teaching profession.
As part of its mandate for the teaching profession, the TRCN is backed by law to regulate and control the teaching profession both in public and private sectors at all levels of the educational system in Nigeria from the Early Childhood Education to the university level, to ensure quality and place teaching on the same pedestal with other professions, and conform to international best practices and international teaching councils’ regulations and frameworks in teacher education, teacher practice, professional ethics and ongoing professional development.
Besides the PQE’s control mechanism to point out gaps in teacher education, it is another measure to identify areas for further training and retraining of teachers for the system.
Saddled with the aforementioned responsibilities, which are aimed at improving teachers’ quality, TRCN has consistently drawn attention of teachers in the system to December 31, 2019 deadline for registration and licensing of all teachers to qualify them to teach in schools as from January 2020.
Failure to attain this level of qualification, TRCN vowed that such individuals would no longer be allowed to remain in the school system as teachers for lack of competence and prerequisite qualifications to remain in the system.
Meanwhile, before the 2019 deadline, TRCN had put in place certain steps to enable all unqualified teachers in the school system to correct their deficiencies either by pursuing Post Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) in Education or Professional Diploma in Education (PDE) approved by the National Council on Education (NCE) to be run in institutions by the Council.
The Registrar of TRCN, Prof. Josiah Ajiboye, however, said of the policy: “A long number of years have been given to the teachers since 2006, and in 2017, this policy was reviewed in the National Council of Education meeting in Kano, where the position was upheld that 31st December 2019, will be the last day for teachers’ registration, while those who failed to register would not be allowed to remain in the school system.
“The position was re-emphasised in Abuja meeting of 2018 and similarly in last year at its meeting in Port Harcourt, the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu reiterated the same position and also challenged TRCN to be prepared for the effective monitoring of the policy as from January 2020. I want to assure Nigerians that we are going to start our monitoring for compliance with effect from January.”
As expected and given the deadline for registration, the Council has continued to witness a surge in the number of teachers, who sat for the mandatory Professional Qualifying Examination in 2019.
Going by the TRCN’s records, more than 50,000 teachers sat for the examinations in May last year, while another 69,132 teachers took the PQE in October, and in December 2019, over 77,000 teachers sat for the examinations.
Although, there have been a few percentage of failures, the Council has made the process flexible by allowing teachers, who were unable to pass the examinations last year and meet the December 2019 deadline to re-sit the examination.
As part of moves in ensuring compliance with the policy, Ajiboye told New Telegraph that the Council had already set up a Monitoring Committee for Compliance, whose duty is to visit schools to ensure compliance to the policy.
The Registrar, who vowed that there was no going back on the policy and stressed the need to restore sanity to the nation’s education sector, however, said that the Committee, which would be led by Professors and Provosts of Colleges of Education, will visit schools across the country to monitor compliance to the TRCN policy.
The Committee, he said, would begin work in the first week of February 2020 by going to schools to ascertain and monitor compliance by teachers and school administrators.
He said: “The Professional Qualifying Examination for teachers will still go on, and it will now to take place four times in a year in order to give those, who are yet to qualify some ample chance to do so.
“Teachers, who are yet to pass the Professional Qualifying Examination still have the ample chance or opportunity to re-register in order to re-sit for the examination. With the arrangements any teacher, who is yet to pass the examination, can still register for the examination. I can tell you boldly that many of such teachers had already registered, while many are still registering to retake the examination.
“There is no going back on the policy and soon the Council will take definite action on those who are yet to qualify or pass the Professional Qualifying Examination, as such teachers would be laid off from the system.”
Meanwhile, through this gate keeping exercise, TRCN has so far been able to grow its data bank of registered qualified teachers to over two million, while it created a Teachers Information System (TIS), which contained the names of all registered and qualified teachers in the system.
However, since education is one of the perquisites for national development; and because no country can develop beyond the quality of its education, just as no education can grow above the qualities of its teachers, two million qualified teachers in a country of over 180 million people, is like a drop of water in the ocean.
Given this scenario, the TRCN revealed that the nation’s basic education sector sub-sector is currently faced with acute shortage of 277,537 qualified teachers.
This is as the recently launched 2018 National Personnel Audit (NPA) report, revealed that though the number of teachers increased rapidly from 842,716 in 2006 to 1,450,142 in 2018; the percentage of qualified teachers had declined abysmally from 76 per cent to 57 per cent within the space of 12 years.
The Registrar, who also acknowledged a shortage in qualified teachers in the country, however, noted: “If you look at this number you will realise that the number of teachers required by the country is staggering. In the entire Africa, we have a shortage of about seven million teachers and Nigeria will account for the largest percentage of that seven million in Sub-Saharan Africa.”
But, still not comfortable with this position, TRCN last year carried out some capacity building training for teachers, while the Council reiterated that such training already in the pipeline would be sustained this year in order to boost teacher’s professionalism in line with national aspiration.
Also, as part of efforts at enhancing teachers’ competence, a road map for teacher professionalism in the country had been initiated, which is being partly implemented pending when the technical committee would submit its reports.
“This is essential to the Council,” Ajiboye noted.
He said: “Teachers’ professionalism cannot be sacrificed for anything on the platter of incompetence because we need qualified teachers in both private and public schools, and we must continue to sharpen our teachers to make sure they bring out the best.
“The challenge we have is that some teachers have continued to stay on the same spot over the years and there is need to rejig the profession. That is the reason the teacher professional qualification is important because the ultimate goal is to improve teacher professionalism and quality delivery.”
On the need to consistently train and retrain teachers, the TRCN boss added: “A situation in which a teacher, has remained in the same level 10 years after his or her appointment, will not augur well for our education system. Since the classroom dynamics keep on changing, the teacher needs to keep abreast of current developments in teaching, and that is why they needed to be trained and retrained regularly. A teacher must be ready to learn, unlearn and relearn.”
With the urgent need to overhaul the teaching system, TRCN’s hammer is gradually falling on the National Service Youth Corps (NYSC), which posts majority of graduates undertaking the compulsory one-year scheme without any knowledge of teaching process to teach in schools, as they will no longer be disallowed to go to classrooms to teach.
Although, talks are ongoing with the Director-General of the NYSC, according to TRCN, to address the issue, as the Council had already proposed that the first set of corps members to be posted to schools to teach should be those who major in Education in the university.
Besides, TRCN had also unfolded plans for short-term programmes in schools and during the three-week orientation camp to prepare corps members for the world of teaching.
But, given the rush by thousands of teachers to sit for the Professional Qualifying Examination especially as witnessed in December, last year, there is the possibility that a good number of teachers, who are yet to be registered and certified would be given the chance to resume work this year.
For instance, out of the several thousands of teachers, who besieged the Federal College of Education, Technical (FCET), Akoka, Lagos for the PQE, last December, about 2,000 teachers were yet to be attended to due to some hitches.
Although, the Council is yet to take a definite position on the deadline for teachers, who are yet to get registered and licensed, the Council has, however, noted that the PQE would henceforth be written on a quarterly basis to ease the administration of the examination and enable the Council to carry out effective supervision and monitoring.
Investigations by New Telegraph have also revealed that as the monitoring and evacuation of unqualified teachers from both private and public schools kick off next month, as promised by the Registrar, the exercise might not be nationwide as only six out of the 36 states of the federation have data on their qualified and non-qualified teachers.
By implication, this suggests that enforcement of the policy to bar non-qualified teachers from teaching in schools could only take off in the six states respectively.
The states are Nasarawa, Jigawa, Bauchi, Ebonyi, Cross River and Ogun.
Giving further insight on why the six states would first be captured in the Council’s monitoring and enforcement exercise, Ajiboye said: “TRCN has commenced activities on monitoring the activities of teachers in six states of the federation. We selected one state from each geo-political zone. The states are Nasarawa from North-Central, Ogun State from South-West, Ebonyi State from South-East, Cross River State for South-South, Jigawa State for North-West and Gombe State for North-East. “We now have in our data bank, qualified teachers from public and private schools in the six states. So, when we begin to go out for the enforcement, we know where to start.”
However, the Registrar insisted that the move by the Federal Government through the TRCN as a regulatory body, was not aimed at sacking or witch-hunting any teacher, but to restore dignity and pride to the teaching profession, as it is the case in other professions.
“What TRCN is trying to do is to instill discipline and ensure quality in the teaching profession towards enhancing meaningful and sustainable national development,” Ajiboye added.
The Registrar, who lamented a situation in which the teaching profession had become an all comers’ affair, expressed worry that rather than have qualified teachers who passed through colleges of education or graduates of education to teach in schools, holders of SSCE and graduates with no requisite teaching skills and qualifications have taken over the classrooms in many schools due to insufficient qualified teachers.
“This is totally unacceptable, if the country’s quest to move its basic and secondary school education sub-sector forward, is to be attained,” he said.