……Before approaching specific details of the curricular and pedagogical implications of the President’s bailout for the teaching profession, I must not fail to aver that the President and his team deserve plaudits for taking education to an unprecedented height through the status accorded the sector in the budget in question. Earning a lion’s share among the 2016 budgetary allocations for various sectors is portentous of an approaching golden age of education in Nigeria. If anything, the fact that education gets a considerable sum of N369.6bn in the face of Health’s N221.7bn, Defence’s N294.5bn, Transportation’s N202.0bn, and Interior’s N145.3bn marks a watershed in the history of democratic Nigeria where there hitherto had been a horrendous oppression of the education sector as well as brutish treatment and incredulous trivialisation of the interest and stakes of the operators in the noble and ennobling but highly debased profession, even in official circles.
The fact that successive administrations had failed to give the sector its deserved place significantly promoted the growing perception that education and, in specific terms, teaching, is a doomed or simply an unfavored profession. If the government at all levels brutalized the sector for so long, whose job shall it then be to now protect or redeem the heavily brutalized?
President Buhari’s favorable disposition to education speaks volumes about the quality of advice being offered him. Little wonder then that he has trodden several laudable paths in his anti-graft stance, since his assumption of office. His, so far, is an impressive performance in many respects. There has always been a clamor for the implementation of UNESCO’s recommended 26 per cent budgetary allocation for education but no government has been close to that laudable idea in the history of Independent Nigeria. Even though the appreciable thinking attributed to UNESCO finds no support in any of its document, it is an idea that may not be easily committed to the dust bin, owing to its high value.
President Buhari has commendably navigated for Nigeria this express route to renaissance and therefore deserves to be so noted and acknowledged. Even the most unrepentant among his critics or foes should begin to join those applauding him for marching decisively towards the redemption of Nigeria’s lost glory.Read on….
…Mr. President, Sir, out there is a conglomeration of well-trained and qualified but unemployed teachers. So, if you are seeking to employ teachers for our schools, kindly let us focus on them and not on the generality of the unemployed graduates in the country. Those ones deserve a different kind of attention. Let the unemployed accountant, engineer, lawyer, or chemist not be lumped with the unemployed qualified teachers, in the same basket. Now, answers to the guiding questions posed earlier:
One, there are more qualified teachers than there are available teaching positions.
Two, there is only a shortage of qualified teachers who are willing to accept the available teaching positions on certain conditions. The implication of this is that the government failed to make teaching attractive to some of these qualified teachers which is why some operate in non-teaching sectors. Details of this are beyond the focus of the present article.
Three, there seems to be a misconception of the idea of “qualified teachers.”
With regard to the Federal Government’s idea of addressing the “chronic shortage of teachers” by “partnering state and local governments to recruit, train and deploy 500,000 teachers”, there is nothing condemnable in partnering governments at other levels for any possible ameliorative intervention.
However, the Federal Government may need to determine the recruitment criteria of the qualified teachers in order to ensure uniformity and standardized employment for quality assurance. For instance, they must all be one, graduates of education, two, passed a competency test on their subject of teaching and three possess some ethical and personal characteristics required of classroom teachers.
There must be careful monitoring in order to discourage possible clannish sentiments to seek to prefer a substandard local indigene to a qualified cosmopolitan citizen. There has always been the despicable idea of zoning in employment slots and this has gone a long way in marring standards and watering down quality. The criteria involved must be high. Let no one reduce the standard to make way for mediocre graduates and substandard scholars. If a graduate is not good enough for other sectors, he or she can’t be good enough for the teaching profession. It may be a welcome idea for the intervention to be a Federal Government project. This way, the government may deploy the recruited qualified teachers to work in various parts of the country on an attractive package. This does not rule out the possibility of partnering state and local authorities that may only be accorded some restricted measure of control over the project. The idea being articulated here may be subjected to further examination.Read on…
Rufai, Ph.D, is the Ag. Dean, Faculty of Education, Sokoto State University