Re: Tackling the menace of unqualified teachers in private schools.

This is a rejoinder with respect to an article published in The Guardian newspaper of Thursday, 20th July 2023, titled: “Tackling the menace of unqualified teachers in private schools.”

This is a humble appeal directed to the concerned authorities, requesting that at least some form of consideration be shown to some competent and quality teachers, who would, otherwise, be referred to as “unqualified,” going strictly by their non-possession of the N.C.E/B. Ed./PGDE or other education-related qualifications, as well as their status of registration with the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (T.R.C.N). 

Considering the high rate of unemployment in the country currently, will the removal of teachers from classrooms solely on the grounds that they do not possess education-related qualifications, not cause the already high level of unemployment in the country to rise? Would it not be more human to allow these categories of teachers to remain in the teaching profession, while provisions are made by their employers for retraining such teachers?

I support the views of Mr. Orji Kanu in the above-mentioned Guardian newspaper publication. Mr. Orji Kanu, the President ‘Association for Formidable Educational Development (AFED)’, said the group is in talks with TRCN to ensure teachers in low cost private schools are qualified by getting the TRCN certificate. He continued: “I commend TRCN for regulating the teaching profession, but we must not make an issue with those teaching in private schools who are not qualified. They don’t want to steal; hence, they’re working. That is not to say they should be left to continue teaching without a professional certificate. When we talk about qualification, we should not measure it by results. In Nigeria, we are too certificate conscious, and on that note, people who have power and strength and competency are relegated to the background as if they do not matter. There was a research in 2007, which revealed a lot of things. We observed that the result of that research showed that teachers in public schools who are qualified with documents and certificates could not actually produce students with good learning outcomes, compared to those who were teaching in low cost private schools, whose learning outcomes were higher. So, in this case, we are first human before becoming teachers, so, what should happen is for the government to look for a way to assist teachers who are yet to be professionals but already in the system, to be certified. Teaching is a passion, when we were in secondary school, we were teaching some of our classmates and delivering better than some of our teachers, the only thing we need to do in this instance is to encourage those people to develop themselves and acquire the necessary certification.”

It should also be noted that many other factors contribute towards the low quality and falling standard of the educational system apart from the inadequate qualifications of some schoolteachers. These other factors include: the poor remuneration of teachers, the absence of functional and well equipped libraries in many public and private schools across the country, absence of modern teaching facilities, etc. In addition, the attitude of the students themselves, towards the success of their own education, also plays an important role, and should not be taken for granted. 

For example, with regard to libraries, due to the absence of functional and well-equipped school libraries in many public and private schools across the country, students and teachers are ill-equipped with adequate educational materials and resources that could greatly contribute towards the improvement of the quality of teaching and learning in such schools. 

In view of the above, some steps that could be considered as an alternative to the instant removal of “unqualified” or rather, incompetent teachers from the classrooms, in my humble opinion, could include the other option of administering competence-based tests for these supposedly “unqualified” teachers, regardless of the educational qualifications they currently possess. This can help to ascertain their level of competence as schoolteachers, and then, for those who are found competent, trying to make a provision/opportunity for them to remain in the teaching profession.

Another option could be that those with a B.Sc, B.A or other non-education related qualifications should also be allowed to write the TRCN certification examination as well! I think that it would be unfair, to say the least, to regard someone as unqualified when you have not given the person a chance to demonstrate his/her capabilities and competencies by allowing him/her to also write the TRCN certification examination, regardless of his/her current qualifications. I think others, including non-education graduates, i.e. those with a B.Sc, B.A or other levels of qualifications should also be allowed to register for and write the TRCN certification examination, instead of barring them from participating in the exams, while at the same time regarding them as being unqualified/incompetent. Yes, the doors should be left open for all to participate in the TRCN certification examinations, please!

Yet another option could be that these teachers be provided with adequate training and development opportunities perhaps within the schools where they currently work, that will expose them to more advanced/improved methods of performing their duties as schoolteachers, and help them update their skills and competence level. This would be more preferable than requesting that they go back to school to obtain an education-related qualification such as the NCE, B.Ed or PGDE, etc, especially as they must already have spent many years in school to obtain a B.Sc, B.Eng, or B.A, etc, before eventually securing a job as a schoolteacher. This new requirement can cause them to lose their jobs as teachers – entirely removing them from an occupation that they have come to love and for which they have developed a strong passion. 

Mr. Ighakpe writes from University of Benin, Benin City, Edo state, via

[email protected]; 0817 479 5742.