Given the mandate of the Teachers’ Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN) to professionalise teaching profession, the Council has vowed to set Nigeria’s school system free of quacks
Registrar: No going back on teachers’ professionalism
Ministry: We’ll implement teachers’ welfare package
If the mandate given to the Teachers’ Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN) to sanitise and rid the school system of unqualified, unprofessional teachers and quacks is anything to go by, respite is on the way of the teaching profession.
The Teachers’ Registration Council of Nigeria, the regulatory body for teachers, was established by Act 32, of 1993, now T3 of 2004, essentially to professionalise and streamline the nation’s teaching profession.
Despite its mandate and existence, the teaching profession is still an all comers affair; and a ready job for all and sundry, especially those graduates who are unable to secure more ‘lucrative’ employments and those using teaching as a stop gap to pursue a higher level of their education.
But, the Council, in its renewed vigour has vowed to reverse the trend and restore sanity to the teaching and the entire Nigeria’s school system.
As part of deliberate moves to achieve this set goal and position the nation’s teaching profession to align with global standards in terms of quality and professionalism, where there will be no place for quacks and unprofessional teachers, the TRCN had few years ago, introduced the mandatory Professional Qualifying Examination (PQE).
Part of the objectives of the examination, which is compulsory and which all teachers should pass before they could qualify to teach in the nation’s primary and secondary schools, is to register and offer professional licences only to qualified teachers.
The (PQE) is an evaluation strategy that come at the completion of pre-service education of an intending professional, aimed at determining the level of competencies of the individual teachers, organised by a statutory body of competent jurisdiction to independently ascertain to what extent the individual has accomplished the laid down benchmarks for admission and acceptance into the teaching profession. Worried by the poor state of teaching in the country,
given the increasing number of unqualified teachers in the school system, the TRCN had in 2019, set December as the deadline for registration of all qualified teachers, while the unqualified ones were mandated to acquire teaching qualifications or leave the system.
With the deadline, there was a surge in the number of teachers who sat for the examinations in order to secure their jobs, a development which has changed the disposition of teachers in Nigerian schools, who hitherto never took the policy seriously since it was introduced in 2006.
To monitor compliance with the deadline, TRCN record indicated that no fewer than 69,132 teachers in May 2019 sat for the PQE, while 77,000 teachers did the same in the October and December digest of the same year; and in January 2021 over 50,000 teachers sat for the examinations.
However, 2020 did not witness such high figures of teachers that sat for the examinations due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which according to the Council, hampered its activities as a result of the nationwide lockdown imposed by the Federal Government to contain the spread of the virus. For instance, TRCN’s records show that in 2020, out of the 44,365 teachers, who registered for the PQE, only 37,340 sat for the examination.
Sadly, the figure drastically dropped to 17,602 during the October digest, which was written in November of that year. But, recently at a one-day Capacity Training Workshop organised for Education Correspondents Association of Nigeria (ECAN) in Abuja, the TRCN Registrar/ Chief Executive Officer, Prof. Josiah Ajiboye noted that although the COVID-19 pandemic dealt the teaching profession a big blow, Nigerian teachers were getting more motivated to take the PQE.
Prof. Ajiboye, who also made reference to the need for technologically savvy teachers to cope with developments in the education sector, said the PQE had helped in educating the majority of teachers on the use of technology, a major requirement to properly fit into the modern educational system.
He, however, said: “If you are not registered and licensed it is becoming difficult and practically impossible to get a teaching job in Nigerian schools. If we want to get it right in the country, we need to get the issue of the teachers extremely correct.
“A situation where anyone, whether qualified or unqualified, is free to stand in front of a classroom to teach is ‘sheet anarchy’ and Nigeria is already paying a big price for neglect of the sector.”
Excited over the global recognition now accorded teachers, the Registrar noted that so far in 2021, about 100 professional letters were signed for qualified Nigerian teachers, who secured teaching jobs in Canada and other parts of the world. But, with the excitement comes a call to address the brain drain in the teaching profession in order to address the dearth of qualified teachers in the country.
Ajiboye, who told New Telegraph over the weekend that monitoring for compliance was frustrated in 2020 by COVID-19 pandemic outbreak with little or nothing to be done in that direction, said Interim Report of monitoring conducted across 33 states of the federation, except Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States that were not captured due to Boko Haram insurgencies, had been submitted.
According to him, the monitoring for compliance will be sustained to ensure that all teachers in Nigeria schools passed the PQE examination and duly registered for them to teach in the school system. Describing teachers’ registration as a global practice, the Registrar said so far over 2.3 million Nigerian teachers had been registered with the TRCN, even as added that this would continue until all teachers are qualified and registered, while the unqualified ones would be shown the way out of the system.
He said: “Teachers, who are not certified by their countries won’t be able to teach and practise anywhere in the world.
So, it is a global policy that teachers must be certified as professionals and should register with the Teachers’ Registration Council of Nigeria. There is no end to the PQE and registration policy for Nigerian teachers until the end is achieved.” Although statistics released in 2019 had placed the number of registered teachers in Nigeria at over 2 million and presently 2.3 million, the number, according to TRCN, is far from adequate for a country with over 200 million people.
Meanwhile, worried by the acute shortage of qualified and quality teachers in the school system, Ajiboye, who is not only averse to this, but further attested to the challenge, said: “If you look at this number you will know that the number of teachers required by the country is staggering. In the entire Africa continent, we have a shortage of about 7 million teachers and Nigeria will account for the largest percentage of that number in the entire Africa Sub-Sahara.”
But, expressing concern to make the teaching profession more attractive, the TRCN, the Registrar noted, had developed a career path policy document, which takes into cognisance the retirement, retention, motivation, promotion and training/retraining of teachers in order to ensure that they meet the requisite standards enshrined in the TRCN Act.
The document already approved by the 64th National Council on Education (NCE) conference held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State between November 4 and 8, 2019 for adoption and implementation, however served as guide for the Presidential pronouncements on October 5, 2020 that improved a new welfare package for Nigerian teachers.
“The President has stated that in 2020, and if we can be able to follow through with this, I believe very strongly that the trend of our teachers leaving the country will reduce,” he said.
According to the circular by the Federal Ministry of Education, 65years had been approved for teacher’s retirement, with federal teachers benefiting from this policy beginning from January 2021, while some of the approvals will have to wait till 2022, but the ministry will continue with the implementation.
“We do not want our qualified teachers to leave the shores of Nigeria for another country for greener pastures in the guise of brain drain, but for those that are leaving, they are being rated at par with their colleagues abroad,” Ajiboye added.
Meanwhile, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Mr. Sonny Echono, who harped on the need for quality delivery in the education sector during the 2021 Batch A Professional Qualifying Examination for teachers, organised by the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN) in Abuja where some 17,141 teachers sat for the examination in 43 centres across the nation, said that the Federal Government in its effort to ensure an improved education system in the country had put modalities in place to ensure quality delivery. According to him, one of the modalities was ensuring that teachers sit for the professional qualifying examination before qualifying to teach.
On teachers’ professionalism, in line with TRCN’s mandate, he noted: “With time, if you do not have this certification you are not a teacher. You do not have the right to practice. We have commenced the process of enforcing and implementing the policy that only qualified teachers would be allowed to teach in our schools across the country.
“We are starting with all the government schools then we move to private schools. Right now, we are discussing with state governments and school proprietors to ensure this is done.
“This is because the single largest investment one can make for the future generation is ensuring that they get quality education,” Echono said. He said that the introduction of technology in the sector, particularly in the writing of the teachers’ qualifying examination had ensured an improved process, stressing that “this year there is additional innovation in terms of Information Technology (IT).”
The Permanent Secretary, who pointed out that there were qualified teachers that are not employed across the country, and noted that no state had an excuse to keep unqualified teachers in their schools in view of that, however, assured teachers of the government’s commitment to ensuring better welfare for them.
On the welfare packages approved by the Federal Government for teachers, which the ministry had already commenced the implementation, he said: “We are working closely with the Head of Service and the Salaries and Wages Commission in computing rural allowances, science allowances, hazard allowances and all of that, and we are also working out modalities to ensure that teachers with special needs get required facilities to teach effectively.”
On her part, the Acting Director, Certification and Licencing, Teachers’ Registration Council of Nigeria, Dr. Jacinta Ametepe Ogboso, disclosed that the professional qualifying examination was always conducted in two or three batches, while the next batch would take place in October