Teachers have up till December 31 to get licensed or be shown the way out by the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN). Will they comply before the deadline expires? KOFOWOROLA BELO-OSAGIE and BUSOLA SEBIOTIMO report.
For long, teaching has been an all-comers affair that many dabble into when they cannot find other jobs. Many attribute the lack of commitment and passion of some teachers to the low level of professionalism in teaching – unlike medicine, engineering, and law, which insist on specific qualifications before practice. But education allows all sorts into its fold.
Though the Federal and state governments do not employ unqualified teachers private schools do. While some practising teachers in private schools may be graduates, not all studied education. Also, anyone can establish schools without possessing requisite educational qualifications. Such schools, especially if serving low-income neighbourhoods, even employ secondary school leavers as teachers.
However, the Teachers’ Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), a parastatal of the Federal Ministry of Education (FME), has moved to end what it calls quackery in the profession. By December 31, its Registrar, Prof Josiah Ajiboye, said teachers must be registered and licensed to practise by the Council. From January 2020, the body will begin playing its regulatory role – sending unlicensed teachers out of school.
At a summit in Lagos, Ajiboye said it was better to rid the country of unqualified teachers even though there is a high teacher deficit.
“At the level of TRCN, we are concerned about teacher professionalism. The only profession hitherto over the years that has not been regulated has been the teaching profession. That landscape is changing in Nigeria. The challenge of teacher quality, teacher competence is a big one. There are many not competent to be called teachers; they are cheaters.
“Globally, we have shortage of teachers. In Sub Saharan Africa, we have about 17 million deficit; and to think that those who are not qualified are among this number! We cannot continue to accommodate unqualified teachers. How many of you can allow an unqualified doctor to treat you? The deadline of December 31 has been given for all teachers to be qualified,” he said.
To be licensed, a teacher must first of all possess the requisite educational teaching qualifications. They are – the National Certificate of Education (NCE) – the minimum qualification for primary and junior secondary school teachers; the Bachelor of Education (B.Ed); the Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE); Masters in Education (M.Ed); or Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D). With any of these, the teacher can apply to the TRCN to write the Professional Qualifying Examination (PQE). The examination is written in June and October.The cost of the examination depends on category of qualification. While teachers with Ph.D in Education pay N10,000; those with the M.Ed pay N8,000; B.Ed/B.SC and PGDE/HND and PGDE holders pay N7,000; while the NCE, pay N6,500 for registration and study pack.
Ajiboye said the qualifying examination, which tests Basic Mathematics, Use of English, Educational psychology, Sociology, Statistics, research questions, teaching methodology and general knowledge, helps to determine the competence level of the teachers.
“Before, we just registered teachers. But now, we do a qualifying examination. We have been classifying teachers based on qualification. Now, we have changed it to consider competence,” said Ajiboye, who added that even professors had applied to write the examination.
Is December deadline feasible?
Though the TRCN has been calling on teachers to register for three years, some teachers who spoke to The Nation claimed they did not know anything about it.
At a recent training organised by Seedtime Foundation for public and private school teachers held at Grange School, of the 27 teachers our reporter approached, only 12 were aware of the December 31 deadline. The others said they did not know anything about it.
Considering the poor awareness, Jadesola Araba, an English teacher at Zumratul School, Epe, Lagos, said the deadline should be extended.
“The deadline should be extended. The awareness is not that much. People do not know the importance; people do not know its closing soon or anything,” she said.
Disu Gboyega, who teaches in UNA Oke-Agbo Primary School, Ikorodu, said many teachers in Ikorodu were unaware and those aware do not think it matters since many government officials do not care about schools in the hinterland.
“I think the registration is a good cause, but in my area, we don’t receive many things or support. We would register now, but still no benefits. When they hear about that kind of area, they feel it is a village; so, why are we registering? Now the deadline is December and so many teachers around there are not taking it serious. The question is: if we register or not, do they care about the teachers? They should go into schools in deep villages and orientate them on why they should register, otherwise nothing would be done,” he said.
Apart from lack of awareness, some teachers complained about the cost of the examination being unaffordable.
Adebusuyi Amelia, who teaches tailoring at the Community Vocational Centre, Ikeja claimed she would have registered, but for the cost which to she said was high.
“The registration fee is high, I have been teaching for the past 17 years, but I am not being paid as a teacher after having done conversion. They should postpone the date because it is not easy, so many people would like to register but the money is not there. I, as a teacher, had to take up a job as a non-teaching staff.They should give more time. Working for that long if I tell you my salary you won’t believe it. I am being paid less than N10,000. So, I cannot readily afford the registration fee,” she said in tears.
For those teaching without requisite teaching qualifications, some teachers also argued that they could not afford the cost of paying to get a PGDE. Some also complained about the type.
Adams Bello, responding to a post on TRCN on a Facebook group, Concerned Parents and Educators Network, said many teachers could not afford the registration cost for the PQE because they earn poor salaries.
“The take home of many teachers in private schools cannot take them anywhere. That has been a major factor behind their poor service delivery. The government is swift at making policies without considering the aftermath of them. Some untrained teachers in N-POWER scheme did PGDE in NTI, an affiliate of NOUN, since 2017. First semester results have not been released let alone second semester. No certificate and TRCN insisted that without it, registration could not be done for those who fall in that category. How are they going to meet up the deadline? Perhaps they may be out of job soonest, if the policy is fully implemented. I am afraid many private school teachers may not be able to afford higher education for their children due to meagre remuneration,” he said.
Another teacher, Jumai Danjuma, said: “If you are a teacher and it is necessary you do a PGDE to switch to education but the issue is: how much is the salary? I approached some of my colleagues and told them to do PGDE and they asked: ‘how much is the salary and how much is school fees.’ I reasoned with them. The so called TRCN will be renewed periodically. I ask again: ‘How much are we earning?’”
Suspicion for TRCN motive
Some teachers do not seem satisfied with TRCN’s motive to license teachers. They question why teachers have to be certified after being trained in schools before they can be recognised as teachers.
Professor of Chemistry, Oladele Osibanjo, believes that what teachers need is lots of motivation, not licensing or writing qualifying examinations.
“It is rubbish. You cannot teach what you do not understand. If you motivate teachers; if there are incentives, they will teach. You need to master your subjects. Let us find out fundamental truths – how many people prepare their teaching notes before class? Some go to class to dictate notes. Train teachers; let them see that if they go for conferences and improve themselves. They would be rewarded. It would motivate them,” he said.
Ayandele Rasheed Ayantayo said people could not be stopped from being teachers on the basis of TRCN licence.
“How would you say I am not qualified after my Bachelor Degree in Education specialising in English? I think some people are behind this ‘film’ because of what they are going to reap at the end. I think there must be a clear- cut difference between being qualified and being certified. Anybody who has a degree in education in any discipline is already qualified. We paid certain amount of money in 2001/2002, under the assumption that they would register the teachers, up till today we have not heard anything from NUT.
“For those who have registered since all these years, what have they benefited? And looking at it critically, you will realise that the issue of teachers’’ registration is louder in Southern Nigeria than Northern part, especially it’s louder in the Lagos /Ógùn axis. If you don’t give me employment, it will be pretty difficult to sack me based on this TRCN nonsense,” he said.
Omotayo Kola Ajimobi claimed that TRCN was only out to make money.
“TRCN is not a professional body. You cannot have a degree in education and be inducted into other professions. TRCN is only interested in the collection of money from teachers and nothing more. I have been in teaching for over 15 years with my state government and I know what I am saying. TRCN is not a professional body. It all started in 2000 when teachers were defrauded all in the name of professionalism of teaching,” he said.
A step in the right direction
There are many teachers, however, who believe TRCN is doing the right thing and urged teachers to hurriedly comply with the deadline.
Sunday Toyin, a teacher of Heritage of Glory International School, Ayobo-Lagos, said the call for registration had been on for a long time and the deadline will speed things up. “The deadline for the registration is fine because they have been on it, announcing it that teachers should go and register before now. And if they do not attach deadlines, you know Nigerians, they would not do it. From July to December, there’s still a lot of time to register.”
Mrs Adetola Oladeji, a teacher at Grange School, Ikeja, and founder, Seedtime Foundation, said registering would show teachers as good role models for their students.
“TRCN has been on this thing for a while and I guess it’s the attitude of some people. But it has to be done. If you are a lawyer, you belong to a body so there is nothing wrong for teachers to have a place to belong to. Deadline has to be set when you know that there are many people operating without a licence.
“Teachers are supposed to be role models; if an instruction has been given, a teacher should carry out that instruction – the same way you want to give instruction in your class and expect the children to respond. It should not have gotten to this stage where they ask us to write an exam,” she said.
An Associate Professor of the Department of Botany, University of Lagos, Dr Adesalu Abosede, also said regulation is as important in education as it is in other professions. She, however, advised that the deadline be extended to give room for more entries.
“When I heard about the registration and licensing, I was very happy because every area of specialisation have their professionals and they have their associations. In Nigeria, we know it is teaching profession that we have everybody inside, whether they are qualified or not. There is this notion that you are graduate of a university, you are automatically a teacher but to me, it is not all that. You have to be trained, the way a doctor is trained, lawyer is being trained, teachers should be trained. But the only thing that happens in teaching is that because you know how to read and write, you are allowed to teach. But the process of imparting knowledge is a total package, so I support that. It is a nice policy at the right time and I know if properly managed, we are going to enjoy it in the future.”
The Nation asked Ajiboye what would be the fate of teachers who have started the registration or are still studying for their educational qualifications by the December 31, deadline, he said: “We will cross the bridge when we get there.”
Source: The Nations