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By Kuni Tyessi
The Executive Secretary, Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Dr. Hamid Bobboyi has appealed to stakeholders to partner the federal government in ensuring that the quality of teaching and learning at the basic education level is strengthened for graduates of the system to be globally competitive.
Bobboyi, who spoke in Abuja, said though 2020 was challenging as a result of COVID-19 pandemic that led to lockdown of the country, including closure of schools for the most part, the commission worked hard in many areas, including support for the provision of e-learning and other response to the pandemic.
He said the commission, in realisation of the importance of teacher in the provision of quality education, designated 10 per cent of the entire amount received from the Consolidated Revenue Fund for teacher professional development through the States Universal Basic Education Boards (SUBEB).
“That is something that is very important for us to realise that we pump in a minimum of N10 billion every year for teacher professional development in this country.”
He said the commission feels this has to be done because it is essential for teachers to be trained professionally, adding that the quality of teaching given in the class is dependent on the quality of teachers that are available.
He however said one of the major challenges is getting qualified teachers to teach the children in the country, which he noted that the Federal Ministry of Education is trying to address, but for now every parent wants his or her child to study Medicine, Law, Economics, Engineering, among others.
He added that a situation where as a teacher, one has to rely on support from other members of the family in almost everything, be it marriage, child education among others has to be corrected.
According to the 2018 National Personnel Audit (NPA) report on Public and Private Basic Education Schools in Nigeria, the country has shortage of 277,537 teachers.
The personnel audit conducted by UBEC further indicated that while 73 per cent of those teaching in public schools are qualified teachers, only 53 per cent of teachers in private schools are qualified to teach; that is those that have the minimum requirement of Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE) and above.
Bobboyi said: “Our hope is that with the current reforms that are being put in place where you attract the best candidates into the teaching profession and compensate them adequately, the narrative will change. In many countries and I was in Singapore and they told me that you are better off as a teacher than a medical doctor if it is about money. It is the same thing in Finland.”
He added that teaching in other countries is competitive where a teacher is at least making a decent living and being supported by the state. Even in Nigeria, he said during the earlier days, teachers were not necessarily receiving huge salaries per se, but there were a lot of fringe benefits accruing to them- house, car and respectability in family and society.
On instructional materials, the executive secretary said the quality of resources to teach play a vital role in achieving quality education. He said UBEC has voted 15 per cent of the entire amount received from the Consolidated Revenue Fund annually to the purchase of instructional materials distributed to schools.