The major problem facing Nigeria education today is the utter failure to readily come to terms with the aphorism that “no education can rise above its teachers.”
Much as this cliché is foregrounding and should be reciprocity, the recent situation in Kaduna State, where the state government, under Governor Nasir El-Rufai, resolved to sack over 21,000 teachers in its public primary and secondary schools for not possessing the requisite teaching qualifications and, albeit, for failing the competence test conducted for them, is not only justifiable, but also lamentable and evoked pity that these teachers are in Nigerian schools.
The fact that the teachers are unqualified and un-trainable, going by the assessment of the state government, is a disservice to the system, if the manner in which the teachers got to the Kaduna State school system is anything to gloss over.
The state government should be lauded for taking such a bold step to fix the comatose education sector, which has been bedevilled over the years by poor standard.
But, on the other hand, we blame the state for the unpardonable laxity in recruiting into the system unqualified teachers, against the national teaching policy and regulation, which pegged the minimum teaching qualification in Nigerian public schools to Nigerian Certificate in Education (NCE).
The policy is simple. It stipulates that no teacher in Nigerian primary and secondary schools should be allowed to teach without an NCE certification or having education background as the basic teaching qualification as charged by the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN).
Kaduna State government, without doubt, has ran foul of the convention by recruiting holders of Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE), National Diploma (ND) and other allied certifications, without bias for education, as teachers in the state’s school system.
Expectedly, what the El-Rufai administration would have done in this situation is to declare the teachers not qualified, without hiding under the guise of the competence test to ease them out of the system.
In fact, if this had been done, the noise that greeted the state government’s action would have been avoided and the present challenges government is facing in the process with the teacher’s union and other workers’ unions would have been prevented.
The problems with the teaching profession in Kaduna State schools in particular and, the country at large, did not just start today, but the lack of the right political will on the part of governments at all levels to do the needful is the bane of the system.
We submit with utter regret that a situation where little attention is paid to education that has manifested in non-payment of teachers’ salary and other entitlements across the federation will continue to hunt the sector.
Incidentally, if truly the then Kaduna State Commissioner for Education, Alhaji Usman Mohammed, could shock the nation during the “Education for all is Responsibility of all” summit of February 14, 2013, that only one of a total of 1,599 teachers selected from across the state, who were given primary four tests in Mathematics and Basic Literacy scored 75 per cent, with 251 scoring between 50 and 75 per cent and 1,300 scored below 25 per cent, it implies that something is fundamentally wrong with the state’s education.
The unfortunate implication was that the then Governor Mukhtar Yero failed to properly diagnose and situate the problem, as there was no evidence that his administration took any action, either overtly or covertly, against the teachers who were certified illiterates.
Against this backdrop, there is no meaningful education that could be achieved under this abysmal situation, where teachers are grossly underequipped for the job of moulding the younger ones.
In the interim, if the administration of el-Rufai could be courageous enough to take such bold steps to recast the system and restore sanity to the sector, such decisive push should be a welcome development aimed at streamlining education in the state by all concerned parties.
It is on this parameter that we hail the state government for its gallantry in taking the bull by the horns, trying to bring the ailing education sector out of its present woods once and for all.
Essentially, it, therefore, behoves all concerned stakeholders in the state’s education project to collectively join hands with the governor in this critical assignment to rid the system of unqualified teachers.
Much as this is being done, the state government should be magnanimous enough to train those among the teachers who are identified trainable by either sponsoring their NCE education or giving them a deadline to acquire requisite teaching qualifications with a promise to reabsorb them into the system after completing their studies.
It is on the basis of this that the state government would be seen to mean well for the system, rather than throwing the entire 21,000 ‘unqualified teachers’ out of job in one swoop.