Accidental Teachers on the Prowl and Search for Lasting Solution
Kuni Tyessi writes that with increasing cases of square pegged teachers in the nation’s round hole education system, UNICEF continuously reminds the government that achieving SDG-4 may be in a reverse motion
Ahmed returned home with his homework in Quantitative Reasoning. Examples of how to solve the questions were there, but he couldn’t understand them. He claims the teacher, a graduate degree holder in education, did not show the class how to solve the questions. Failure to do the assignment will attract corporal punishment. This occurrence has been repetitive, and his parents have begun to ask questions about the teacher’s professionalism. They do not know how to get the answers, and out of frustration, they take pictures of the task before them and forward them to family members who are good at calculations. Through this, there is a reprieve, and the equations are solved.
In Amaka’s class, the teacher, during English lessons, tells the young learners that every plural word must change form and take ‘s’, ‘es’, ‘ves’, etc. She forgets to tell them that certain words remain in their original spelling, even in plural form—for example, sheep, information, etc. The reason is attached to her inability to upgrade her lesson plan and her lackadaisical attitude towards her job. She had been promised a slot in a plum federal government commission, and this was never to happen. She takes out her anger and frustration against the system on the pupils, and they are lost to what their faults are. The pupils fail some questions in the unchanging category; all are whipped and called unserious.
“But aunty, you didn’t teach us those,” one of the bold pupils reminds her while pointing at the board.
“Don’t be stupid. You’re supposed to know it. It’s all about common sense,” she replies in anger.
The pupils become afraid of her and will always say “yes, aunty” whenever she asks if what she has taught has been well understood. However, their exam scripts and results tell a different story about their convictions. Unfortunately, the Nigerian government does not implement laws or sanction such offenders.
Tayo is another pupil who comes home crying and reporting to his mother that the state government has sacked his teacher, Ms Anne. An enquiry from the school reveals that despite the teacher’s love and understanding towards children and a gifted ability to impart knowledge, she is not trained and qualified for the noble profession. New policies in teaching affect her, and she is shown the way out without consideration for her innate skills. Soon after, the class struggles to cope with the teaching method of the new teacher.
Stories like those above are no longer news within the Nigerian educational space. The cliche of many being called and few chosen sits well in the country’s teaching profession, where many have embraced the trade to keep bodies and souls together and not necessarily for the passion for imparting knowledge.
The Sustainable Development Goal- 4 centred on the compulsory attainment of basic education for every child, is hereby compromised in a system which seems incapable of sieving the wheat from the chaff or giving an opportunity for the gifted in the system to thrive.
In the lecture titled ‘Increase funding to the education sector and investing in teacher quality’, Dr Anthony Chidiebere Ezinwa emphasised education as the right of every Nigerian child and a dictum that every handler in the education system must be abreast with.
Speaking at a media dialogue which was organised by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Kano, Ezinwa says due to the level of teacher quality in many schools, several children are not learning, hence the need to get government at all levels to focus on learning and teacher training.
Similarly, UNICEF Education Manager for Nigeria, Manar Ahmed Sharouda, in her assessment of the Nigerian child in the face of quality education, said the country, like several others in low and middle-income settings, was going through a learning crisis as 53 per cent of 10-year-olds could not read and understand a simple story.
In research released by UNICEF, in sub-Saharan Africa, many children are learning in poverty and do not have basic literacy even at the age of 10.
Nigeria is said to have one of the best policies in the world but suffers from poor implementation. A high classroom learner ratio of 1:65 is clearly seen in several primary schools, and there is a 37 per cent shortage in the classroom at the national level.
There is also the case of low school readiness, and at least 19 million children aged three to five are not enrolled in the Early Childhood Care and Development Education (ECCDE) services as encouraged by the Nigeria Educational Research and Development Centre (NERDC). Only one out of three children are exposed to the mandatory one-year early child education.
With a few years to the SDGs’ expiration, Nigeria has yet to find lasting solutions that tower before it in teacher quality, particularly for basic education. However, just like in politics, where one day can change the course of events, hope remains imminent in the possibility of a better narrative.