The hammer of the Teachers Registration Council Of Nigeria (TRCN) will soon fall on the heads of over two million Nigerians currently practicing as teachers in schools across the federation without being certified by the body.
The impending clampdown on the unqualified teachers in public and private schools nationwide, was disclosed recently by the Registrar of TRCN, Prof Josiah Ajiboye in Abuja in an interview published by the Guardian Newspapers, pointed out that the period of grace given to such teachers to regularize their qualifications and get certified has expired.
Ajiboye disclosed that TRCN officials would start visiting schools to ascertain their level of compliance with the TRCN Act. The TRCN boss explained that the move became necessary following the continued determination of the council to maintain high educational standard in the country. He lamented that in spite of the grace period given to unqualified teachers across the country to get certified and register with the council, there are still records of many unqualified teachers.
For instance, out of over four million teachers in various institutions of learning in the country, about two million are registered with the council as qualified teachers.
He said: “The mandate of TRCN is about teacher professionalism in public and private schools and National Council on Education has directed that anybody who wants to teach must be qualified and registered with TRCN. We have about 2.2 million teachers that are registered with TRCN and the figure is still extremely low because from available statistics, we have about four million teachers in the country. That means a large number of them are still not registered.”
The registrar commended critical stakeholders, particularly state governors, for their efforts in ensuring that unqualified teachers under their employment got certified to avoid being laid off. He, therefore, urged affected teachers to take advantage of such opportunities to get qualified and registered with TRCN or risk being laid off and prosecuted.
“TRCN has the power to remove unqualified teachers. We are trying to start what is called naming and shaming to let state governments know the number of teachers in their employment that are not qualified.”
He said besides being qualified and registered with TRCN, teachers must acquire additional skills, particularly in technology assisted learning, to keep them in tune with world standards.
Ajiboye disclosed that the certification is to make teachers relevant in the 21st century technology world. He said the country needs technologically savvy teachers to be able to cope with developments in the sector and achieve her potentials.
While technology will not be able to fully replace teachers in the classroom, Ajiboye said those who are able to use technology to aid their work would replace those who lack the ability.
Ajiboye said while education is a means to better life and uplifts the society, teachers, being the major operator of the system, have a lot of responsibilities thrust upon them. He added that the modern world requires the kind of education where knowledge is the primary commodity and therefore, teachers must be able to fit into that.
He said: “Teachers are essential players in promoting quality education. They are advocates for and catalysts of change. This, therefore, means that no education reform is likely to succeed without the active participation and ownership of teachers. The progress of education is judged mainly by the products and these cannot be the desired type if the processes go wrong.”
Ajiboye listed the introduction of Professional Qualifying Examination (PQE) and Professional Qualifying Examination Integrated (PQEI) as some of the new innovations introduced to improve the lot of teachers and the teaching profession.
According to him, the PQE and PQEI have put TRCN on global map, introduced teachers to the digital world and make them literate in computer application.
Ajiboye said the teaching profession needs the best brains and tasked the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) to make entry into colleges and faculties of education stricter so that only the best would be admitted.
He said lowering the cut-off mark for education courses would negatively impact the quality of people who will eventually teach in the classroom.
The TRCN boss, who is a Professor of Social Studies, Civic and Environmental Studies at the University of Ibadan (UI) said cut-off points for education-related courses should rank among the highest.
“The hydra-headed crisis of quality and quantity of teachers demands a strong policy response. Rebuilding the system should take into account how the once cherished vocation, the mother of all professions should attract the best brains and retain them,” he explained.
Chairman, Lagos NUT, Adesina Adedoyin said the struggle started in 1996 and it is a good thing that it is being enforced.
He said, “We don’t want teaching to be a dumping ground, we want people who have gone through certification to deliver. Almost 100 per cent of our members have done the examination and are certified. One of the criteria to teach in government schools is to be a professional teacher.
On his part, National Chairman, NAPPS, Chief Yomi Otubela said all his members in private schools are certified.
“All teachers must be certified; it is our position paper that the government is implementing now and we are in support. Anyone that wants to teach must pass through the curriculum and be certified by the appropriate authority. Apart from this qualifications, you also need to register, reason being that you are dealing with children, so we need sound teachers that can be traced and we can verify the records of where they have worked last.”
Otubela however objected to yearly payment from teachers for licence renewal saying “if teachers cannot be assisted, if there cannot be some grounds to assist teachers in private and public schools to have access to research and capacity development at no cost, then government should not be charging them.”
AFED president, Orji Emmanuel also commended TRCN for the development, saying teachers from low-cost schools are also embracing it because it would sanitise the system.