Prof. Ruqayyatu Rufa’I, a former Minister of Education, has noted with regret that Nigeria is not only suffering shortage of qualified teachers but also that the few ones on the job are grossly demotivated.
She made the disclosure while delivering a lecture entitled: “Teacher Preparation For Nigerian Schools: Adequacy, Effectiveness And Impact” at the 2019 Lagos State University (LASU) Distinguished Guest Lecture Series organised by the Faculty of Education.
Enriching her lecture with facts and figures enhanced by her background of rich experience as a former commissioner and minister, she revealed that over 30 per cent of teachers at the nation’s primary, junior and senior secondary school levels were unqualified.
She buttressed that out of 243,276 teachers at the primary school level, only 162,909 were qualified and at the junior secondary school, only 67,037 out of the 92,769 were qualified.
At the senior secondary school level, Mrs. Rufa’I, who is the first female professor in the Northeast of Nigeria, added that only a little above 50 per cent of the 117,651 teachers in Nigeria, which was about 65,357 were qualified, even as she noted that the situation in the North was even more dire as a result of insurgency and high number of out-of-school children.
In a chat with the media, Peter Okebukola, who is a Distinguished Professor of LASU, added his voice to that of the distinguished lecturer of the day by also bemoaning the sorry state of education as borne of poor input of largely unqualified teachers in the sector.
He also posited that all hands should be on the deck to better a lot of Nigerian teachers by way of drastic improvement of the conditions of service for teachers as well as the professionalisation of teaching.
In fact, Rufa’i quoted a report of a commissioned inquiry by the new governor of Yobe State as showing that 40 per cent of teachers in the state have no teaching qualifications.
According to the seasoned bureaucrat and education administrator, the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN) has raised the alarm that Nigeria has only two million teachers and as a result of which the country would need to produce no fewer than 250,000 qualified teachers per year in the next few years.
Rufa’i noted that adequate teachers were a very critical factor in the learning process of students.
She feared that given the prevailing situation of the teaching profession in the country, it would be difficult for Nigeria to meet its educational objectives unless urgent remedial actions were taken to mitigate.
Again, she bemoaned that over 13 million Nigerian children are currently out of school as a result of economic, civil unrest and other reasons.
“In line with these, the government at all levels in the country should have it as a matter of policy and priority to pay attention to the preparation of teachers for the school system,’’ the don said.
According to her, this can be achieved through strong political will in supporting the preparation of teachers and must include availability and timely release of funds meant for education.
Rufa’i noted that there should also be limited interference in the recruitment of teachers and administrative processes in schools by the political class.
According to Okebukola, a former Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) as soon as the teaching profession is made attractive enough to draw into it first-class, willing and trained hands, the government could then decide to raise the stake of entry qualification for admission into teaching-related courses and subsequently, into the teaching profession proper.
In his welcome address, Prof. Yemi Akinkuotu, Dean, Faculty of Education, LASU, said that the title of the lecture was very apt.
Akinkuotu noted that this was because Nigeria was at a period when almost every level of its education system was affected by ill-preparation, inadequate funding and bad maintenance culture.
He said it was only natural that only teachers who were well equipped, motivated and who had mastery of the subject matter could be effective in the classrooms.
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