Former Education Minister, Okebukola Bemoan Poor Teacher Quality

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Funmi Ogundare

A former Minister of Education, Professor Ruqayyah Rufai has expressed concern about the number of unqualified teachers in the country, this she said is impacting negatively on the performance of students especially in examinations.

Rufai made this known recently at the 2019 annual distinguished lecture series of the Faculty of Education, Lagos State University (LASU) titled ‘Teacher Preparation for Nigerian Schools: Adequacy, Effectiveness and Impact’.

She regretted that the teaching profession attracts all manners of people because they are not able to secure jobs, adding that teachers must be adequately trained, made to register with the Teachers’ Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN) and given incentives that will add up to the quality of their output in the classrooms.

“There have been concerns about quality outcomes right from the basic education level to the tertiary examination due to poor performance at the basic level. We need to ensure that we have qualified teachers who will be able to deliver the curriculum with the required qualification.”

Rufai, who disclosed that she is heading a team undertaking a comprehensive study of state of education in northern Nigeria and FCT, listed some of the challenges hindering teacher education to include poor political will on the part of the government, inadequate funding, poor infrastructure and lack of effective incentives for teachers.

“There has to be a continuous development programme for them where every teacher from every state must participate through the intervention of SUBEB. The more we have more female teachers in the classrooms, the more we will have female students enrol. The translation of a poor political will, will affect what is being sought for.

“Education is capital intensive, government seems to be spending a lot of money, but when you look at what the money is meant for, not much of it is going into actual development in terms of having real infrastructure and facilities that can bring change in the classrooms.

“We need to know how much is budgeted for education and how much was released to undergo the various task assigned.

She stressed the need for other members of the society to support the government in developing the sector as it requires a lot of money.

“If you must invest in education, you must begin at the basic level and the child must undergo an ideal school system with all the facilities, trained and committed teachers,” she said.

Rufai stressed the need for the government to institute a special scholarship programme for teachers so as to attract the best, adding that this should cover not only their fees and living expenses, but also resources for ICT, books and other complimentary teaching materials that will differentiate them from others.

A former Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Professor Peter Okebukola also expressed concern that the preparation and the incentives for teachers to be able to deliver the curriculum and the quality of people taken have been compromised.

“We have teachers who are ill prepared, who are not happy to be there and forced to do the job. Not all teachers though, but the preponderance of them are in that category. So what we must do is to improve the conditions of service of teachers so that those who will come in there are those who are willing and be happy to raise the cut-off point. So when you incentivise and improve the preparation of teachers, then we can be assured that the glorious days will be here again.”

He stressed the need for teachers to be empowered on the content and pedagogy of the profession before taking them to the classroom.

“The teaching profession should rest on the content knowledge and pedagogy knowledge. So anybody in the world that has no knowledge of these has no place in the classrooms. We cannot because we are short of teachers in the country, worsen the situation there, else the entire system will collapse. The best thing to do is to get people and train them properly on these and get them to the classrooms.”