By Shittu Ahmed Obassa
The Teachers’ Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN’s) deadline to eject unqualified teachers from the classroom in 2018, has continued to receive support from a cross section of stakeholders in education.
The TRCN’s Registrar and Chief Executive, Prof. Josiah Olusegun Ajiboye, has consistently commented on the impending clampdown in the media, emphasising the council’s resolve to carry out the exercise from January, 2018 and appealed to both the Federal and state governments to support his council to raise the nation’s standard of education.
He points out that the exercise will sweep through both public and private schools in the country.
The registrar maintains that “no nation rises above the quality of its teachers and no individual rises above the quality of his or her education”.
Mr Anselm Izuagie, one of the stakeholders and the National President of the All Conference of Principals of Secondary Schools (ANCOPSS) holds the view that the clampdown will improve standard of education in the country.
According to him, ANCOPSS supports the move because unqualified teachers have made the teaching profession“unproductive”.
“When there is standard in quality of teachers, there will be quality in the output and by implication, there will be improved standard.
“The union is in support of TRCN’s action because these untrained teachers make the job unproductive.
“We are tired of the negative reports that the profession is unproductive due to non-regulation of the system.
“So, it’s a welcome development,’’ Izuagie said.
He said that ANCOPSS had established offices all over the nation that will ensure that teachers, who do not have the requisite teaching qualification, are eliminated from the classroom.
The national president added that the ANCOPSS and the Nigeria Union of Teachers NUT are unanimous on professionalism in teaching.
He emphasised the need for TRCN to go tough in dealing with the recruitment of non-professionals even if the affected schools should be closed down, de-registered or their licences withdrawn.
According to him, some state government were not doing enough to improve the quality and morale of teachers in the public schools.
“Teachers have to contend with half or no salaries at all for months, no in-service training, and the welfare of any sort.
“They are denied promotions, the school environment is poor, amidst insecurity and the like,’’ he said.
The ANCOPSS boss expressed regret that the government at all levels lack the political will to carry out the necessary reforms to improve the education sector.
In Sokoto, Mrs Elizabeth Sarauniya, the State Coordinator of TRCN advised the teachers who have professional qualifications to get registered with the council .
According to her, only those who are trained and inducted will perform the job, knowing that the rules of the game exist and are obeyed by all.
Sarauniya said that the registration was for the purpose of professionalism and the uplift of teachers’ status and dignity as professionals.
She said the registration was aimed at sanitising the teaching in the private schools that usually go for cheap labour to maximise profit at the expense of the pupils.
“TRCN has long started the drive to ensure that private schools conform to the regulations and the drive will be intensified in the months ahead.
“The procedure of registration is such that you pay your money according to your level, to the bank.
“You use the bank teller to obtain TRCN form from desk officers of our stakeholders, TRCN state coordinators or headquarters.
“Return the filled forms to the point of purchase which will be processed accordingly for certification,” she said.
Sarauniya said this would improve the standard of education because only professionally trained teachers would teach and manage the schools with professional competence and discipline.
“By this, the Council collaborates with a myriad of stakeholders in education like NUT,and ASUU etc to attract free training programmes for teachers.
“It has notably organised joint capacity building workshops and seminars for teachers with the World Bank, UNESCO and other international agencies.” she said
She explained ed that timeline has been drawn for the unqualified teachers and even for the qualified that by May 31 conventional registration will be over.
Sarauniya added that any registration from June 1 would attract professional qualified examination which will take place in October.
She, therefore,advised teachers to love their profession and guard it jealousy by registering under this cover of mercy.
In Abakaliki, Commissioner for Education in Ebonyi, Prof. John Eke, said that the state government was investing in capacity building and development of the teachers as well as infrastructure in schools across the state.
According to him, no unqualified teacher is allowed in any of the public primary and secondary schools in the state.
He said that government conducted regular certificates screening and verification with a view to uncovering those with fake or incomplete results that found their way into teaching.
The commissioner said that the state government would support the elimination of those without the requisite teaching qualification from the educational system.
“The education system has a big role to play in addressing the socioeconomic and political problems of the country because education is the foundation of society.
“To make the sector play this all-important role, a critical appraisal of the quality and content of the teachers who play major role in the business of imparting knowledge must be made.
“ Most of the teachers in private schools, including tertiary institutions, do not possess the requisite teaching qualifications and yet they are employed by owners of these schools to teach our children.
“The threat by the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN) to eliminate all unregistered and unqualified teachers is, therefore, a welcome development and one that should be translated into reality.
“ The government of Ebonyi will give every support and assistance to this effect because we are passionate about standard in the education sector, ” Eke said.
Mr Oko Okpara, the Director, National Teachers Institute (NTI) in Ebonyi, said that any effort aimed at repositioning the education sector must begin with regulating recruitment of teachers into the profession.
Okpara urged the TRCN to ensure that a bill is sent to the National Assembly to criminalise teaching by unregistered and unqualified personnel in the private or public institutions in Nigeria.
“Teaching is serious and sensitive business that should not be allowed to anybody to practise.
“Flushing out unregistered professionals and unqualified personnel will be a significant step towards repositioning the teaching profession in Nigeria.
“And when teaching is fully professionalised, government and private employers will boost through financial incentives the morale of those who remain in the system,” Okpara said.
Prof. Emma Ekuma, a former Dean of the Faculty of Education, Ebonyi State University (EBSU) and Coordinator of NTI in Ebonyi, advised government to make teaching profession more attractive.
According to him, the idea will make teachers without the requisite qualifications to acquire them.
“Many that are in the teaching profession are not there by design or calling, but out of frustration and therefore use teaching as a cross over to their dream careers.
“If government should invest more in education and the sector made more attractive, then those who got in there by accident of life will settle and pursue a career through the acquisition of relevant teaching qualifications.
“The idea of shutting the doors of our classrooms against those who are not qualified to be in the classrooms either at the primary, secondary or tertiary levels is good development if adequate mechanism is put in place,” Ekuma said.
He further called for a legislation that would make it an offence for any private institution to employ non-professional and unregistered teachers.
But in Umuahia, the Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) in Abia, Chief Chizobem Akparanta, said that the state had no case ofunprofessional teachers in its schools.
Akparanta said that the minimum qualification for recruitment of teachers in government-owned schools was the Nigerian Certificate in Education (NCE).
The NUT chairman said that the registration was a nationwide exercise designed to ascertain the number of teachers in public schools.
Akparanta said that the union was collaborating with the TRCN to ensure the success of the exercise which has reached advanced stage and so far, a majority of teachers in the state have registered.
“The exercise does not concern the private schools,” he said, adding that “it is only taking place in public schools.”
Also, in Awka, Commissioner for Education in Anambra, Prof. Kate Omenugha, said that the TRCN certification would enhance quality delivery in schools.
Omenugha said the clampdown would strengthen professionalism and adherence to ethics, saying the government had already taken steps that would ensure that its teachers were duly registered.
The commissioner said the exercise would be extended to private schools as the unqualified teachers would be slammed.
Omenugha also called on lecturers in the universities to enroll with TRCN.
On her part, Mrs Rosemary Otikpa, Coordinator of TRCN in Anambra, said the rate of registration of qualified teachers in the state was encouraging.
Otikpa said the council was not under pressure as it had enough human resources and logistics to train teachers who were willing to upgrade.
“The registration had been on for about 10 years; so, we are not under pressure because people have been enrolling.
“Our core mandate is to ensure that only qualified teachers are in practice and that it is not an all-comer affairs.
“The registration rate here is high, it is quite encouraging and we are sure to cover everybody before the end of the deadline,” Otikpa said.
But, Prof. Austen Nnonyelu of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, described the exercise as `laughable and a big joke’, advising the council to be more pragmatic in handling the registration.
In her reaction, Miss Nympha Ndigwe, Awka South Chairperson of NUT, said that the decision was a “welcome idea” as its enforcement would help to sanitise teaching as a profession.
Mr Ifeanyi Ude, proprietor, Little Angel Nursery and Primary, Awka, described TRCN’s certification as a welcomed development, urging the council to carry out its resolve.
Ude said that it was going to be a big battle for TRCN to achieve success in its fight against non-professional or unregistered teachers.
A parent, Mrs Ifeoma Anachimerm, , applauded the TRCN’s move, saying the population of unqualified teachers in private schools was disturbing.
“When you listen to some of the teachers pronounce words or speak you will shudder and wonder if they are trained teachers,” Anachimerm said
Anachimerm said that the implementation of the TRCN if well planned would build up the educational standard in the state
Another parent, Mrs Nkechi Udokwu, said that if TRCN should go ahead with in its resolve its action would boost the education sector.
Prof. Dennis Aribodo, Chairman, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, said the deadline would be worthless if adequate funding for the education sector did not improve.
Aribodo, decried the meagre budgetary allocation education receives over the years.
“There is nothing wrong in certifying teachers but in order not to have a system whereby we take one step forward and two steps backward, I am calling for caution.
“Registration of teachers alone will not raise the standard of education; TRCN should channel its energy to ensuring that government funds education to upgrade, uplift and overhaul the school system,” Aribodo said.
“Nigeria is a country where the government budgets less than N3,000 per student in its annual budget; whether primary, secondary or tertiary level.
“The budget for education by UNESCO is that we should vote 26 per cent and above, but the highest Nigeria had reached was 12 per cent in 2014 which came down to 8 per cent in 2016.
“This year, it is hovering between 6 and 7 per cent; all the trouble we have in the country today, including unregistered teachers will be fixed as soon as funding improves,” he said.
Contributing, Mr Chuks Eze, an official of the TRCN in Ebonyi, said that the council has registered significant number of qualified teachers and issued them with certificates.
Eze said that the awareness was high in the state with many graduates of education and also serving teachers who were yet to register coming in their large numbers to register with the council.
“The idea of seeking to eliminate unregistered and non-qualified teachers is to reposition the education sector and ensure that standard was maintained in teaching and learning and also close the doors of our classrooms against quacks.
“The policy will come into force in 2018 and every necessary arrangement is being put in place to achieve success and ensure that the policy did not affect the system negatively,” Eze said.
OBASSA is an Abuja-based journalist