Nigerian teachers: Coping with challenges amid expectations

Factual Pursuit of Truth for Progress
A News Analysis by Funmilayo Adeyemi and Kudirat Musa
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)
In a world where knowledge and keeping up with global trends in development have become a norm, teachers are the ones in the eye of the storm.
But in most of developing countries, facilities and tools for teaching to keep up with the trends are in short-supply or sometimes, not even available.
Mrs Ronke Aderombi is one of teachers in Nigeria, a mother of five and having to cope with inadequate teaching aids  in efforts at impacting knowledge.
She leaves her home of about five kilometres away to get to school in an area where even the roads to the school is even an issue.
She sighs as she crosses what was once a perimeter fence of the school to arrive in in a dusty school environment.
Aderombi watches in dismay even as she looks at her class with broken chairs cluttering  the teaching arena by which most of the children sit on the floor of the class.
She wonders where to start the day from coupled with domestic challenges she has to grapple with at home.
Such is the dilemma of most teachers in the country, including Mr Gabriel Emmanuel, a qualified teachers that believes that lack of teaching facilities in schools is as a major hindrance to access to education.
He emphasises the need for the Federal Government to reposition the education sector to meet national aspiration.
“We can truly say that we were not where we used to be but the fact is that we have not got to the height we need to be as Nigerian teachers.
“There is need for the government to equip teachers with the required skills and competence to meet the needs of 21st century learners to be able to compete favourably with counterparts across the globe.
“ We can only achieve this through the training and retraining of the teachers to meet global best standards,” he said.
Also, Mrs Adekemi Jegede, a teacher, also reiterates the need to train and retrain teachers on regular basis.
According to her, this is one of the methods to address some of the challenges in the sector.
Jegede expresses concern about the spate of decay in the infrastructure in some Nigerian schools.
He says this can also reduce the eagerness and willingness of the teachers to deliver effectively.
Education stakeholders have therefore called for more funding in the educational sector as well as motivations of teachers to enable them deliver efficiently and effectively.
Sharing similar sentiments, Mr Emmanuel Hwande, Press and Public Relations Officer, Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), notes that the situation of poor governance, mismanagement and insufficient funds needs urgent attention to revive  the educational sector.
Hwande, describes primary education as the foundation of education, observing that if the foundation is faulty, it will lead to the collapse of the entire structure.
According to him, the quality of education in any country is one of the major keys to national development.
”Unfortunately, the quality of education in Nigeria is suffering a steady decline. The situation is alarming and scary,” he observes.
He says that poor funding and neglect have remained the lot of primary education, saying good funding will make massive impact on the sector.
He observes further that the first step towards reviving education ought to be the restructuring of the primary education to save it from collapse and as well equipping the teachers to deliver appropriately.
Also, Prof. Alexander Kure, Provost, Kaduna State College of Education, identifies truancy among the teachers and students as a challenge to the teaching profession.
He says that a number of reasons were responsible for teachers’ truancy, including lack of appreciation from parents and other stakeholders.
According to him, lack of training and re-training of teachers, students’ misbehaviour and pressure to meet targets, among others, are some of the challenges facing the profession.
“In a sample of 106,000 teachers in 34 countries, only 35 per cent believe that they are appreciated by the  public.
“In Nigeria, teachers are more likely to skip school without a good reason, than in almost any country.
“More than one in 10 school headteachers report their unjustifiable absence only on weekly basis.
“Sadly, many young teachers in Nigeria take on the teaching profession for different reasons; many become teachers probably because they love the subjects they studied at school.
“Others take on the challenge of ensuring that the young in the society grow in maturity and wisdom for the stimulation of working with like-minded colleagues, ” he said.
Kure, however, calls on Nigerian teachers to enhance their commitment towards the teaching profession.
But Prof. Garba Azare, Director-General, National Teachers Institute (NTI), Kaduna, says that investment in teachers and education is cardinal to attain improved education status of the country.
Azare notes that to enhance the level of the country’s educational system, 25 per cent of the country’s budget should be allocated to education.
“Investment in teachers’ education is human capital development, if you develop a teacher, you develop a nation.
”The system should reward teachers who will teach students how to learn and not what to learn.
“A well motivated teacher will put in his best and encourage others to join the profession.  Teachers should be accorded top priority for efficient service delivery,” he says.
Azare, therefore, calls for the prioritisation of teacher education and as well as the provision of internet facilities to both teachers and students.
According to him, this will provide them with access to wider range of information that will assist them in effectively and efficiently carrying out their duties.
Minister of State for Education Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, nonetheless, expresses optimism that a greater proportion of Nigerians would access quality education to achieve Vision 20:2030.
He observes that no nation can rise above the level of its teachers and that government was conscious of the quality of teachers and learners.
According to him, it is in view of the prevalence of unqualified and incompetent teachers in the education system that the ministry re-positions the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), to professionalise teachers and the teaching profession.
“The ministry is systematically and fully committed to constant upgrading of the teaching standards and contents to boost teachers’ quality.
“We are leaving no stone unturned in our quest to ensure that teachers are professionally qualified, empowered and adequately remunerated, motivated and supported for efficiency and effectiveness.
“The National Teachers Institute (NTI) has been in the forefront of capacity building of primary school teachers to improve their pedagogical skills.
“The institute has been engaged in upgrading under-qualified and unqualified teachers by providing courses of instruction bearing in mind that the exit date for unqualified teachers in our educational system remains Dec. 31,” he notes.
Nwajiuba also announces that the ministry has put in place various mechanisms towards strengthening the implementation of teacher education.
He says further that the bill seeking the review of retirement age of teachers from 60 years to 65 years is with the National Assembly.
Also, Dr Muhammed Idris, National President, Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) commends the efforts of the ministry, NUT and other stakeholders towards the success of the quest for the review of the retirement age of teachers.
To meet the expected roles of teachers, Prof. Josiah Ajiboye, Chief Executive Officer, TRCN, says that the council is committed to improving the quality of education in the country.
Ajiboye assures Nigerians of TRCN’s readiness to ensure that teachers are at par with their colleagues the world.
According to him,  the council has introduced innovations such as professional examinations and digital training programme to address emerging challenges.
The roles of teachers are cardinal to development so much so that every October 5 is observed as the World Teachers’ Day or International Day of Teachers.
The observance of the day is indicated in acknowledging, evaluating and enhancing the instructors of the world and give them a chance to consider the issues identified with educators and the teaching process in general.
Observers note that the theme for this year’s celebration: “Young Teachers, the Future of the Profession”, is apt for situation in Nigeria.(NANFeatures)


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