A good Teacher Training Programme is key to the accomplishment of educational goals
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By Veronica Ogbuagu
THE protest embarked upon by the members of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC and the Nigeria Union of Teachers in Kaduna State against the sack of over 21,000 teachers is shameful, counter-productive and a disgrace to the teaching profession.
The stance of NUT instigated by NLC is clear indication that they are trying to politicise this very important issue. I don’t think they mean well for the teaching profession, our children and the education industry.
It is very sad to note that there has been a pressing need for trained teachers over the years. Professor A. Babs Fafunwa was aware of this problem when in a paper he read on Teacher Education in Nigeria at the National Curriculum Conference in Lagos in September 1969, he brought the problem into focus with all the verbal force at his disposal thus: “Of all the educational problems that beset Nigeria today, none is as persistent and as agonising as the one relating to the training of competent teachers.”
The demands for more and better schools; the need to relate the curriculum to the needs of the child and his environment; the crying need for appropriate text books and other instructional materials; the desirability of training in vocational and technical skills and indeed, the overall problem of preparing the future citizens of Nigeria who will be fully oriented to their environment cannot be effectively accomplished without the aid of competent teachers.
Nor can the demand for trained manpower be adequately met, because the success or failure of all these goals depends entirely on the pattern, the content and the objectives of the teacher education programme designed for these.
Although Professor Fafunwa said this four decades ago, the problem is still unsolved.
In the past 20 years, there has been several complaints about the decline in the standard of education in Nigeria. We have heard the voice of educators, parents, government functionaries and laymen, scholars and the press (with conflicting ideas), speaking of the ills of our educational system and particularly of teachers, due to poor teacher preparation.
In the last few years, Nigeria’s policymakers have made significant changes designed to produce Nigeria’s least experienced and least qualified teachers. This has not yielded result, because many of our primary school teachers presently, are not much more literate than the children they teach. Which makes it obvious that they simply do not know what to teach, let alone know how to teach.
In 2012, the Delta State Government returned some schools to missions. The Catholic Mission advertised for teachers. Over 500 teachers applied to teach in the various schools. Our first task was to short-list applicants. Over 200 copies of application letters submitted to the mission were nothing but hilarious jokes. If not seen, one would imagine it is a tale. In these letters, a lot of errors were observed: autographical (spelling) errors, incorrect sentences, organisational errors, and lack of cohesion. The letters had no margin, some underlined capital letters, using the informal diction, Dear, in a formal letter, wrong use of tenses, wrong appropriateness of punctuation marks, etc. the following are specimen copies of some of the application letters. Please note that the identity of the applicants have been kept confidential.
These applicants were stopped but imagine if it were to be under the public school teacher recruitment process, many of these applications will go through under the ‘Let my people go’ principle of promoting mediocrity and nepotism in the Public School system which Kaduna State is eager to correct.
It is common knowledge that, teachers of old were better and more dedicated to the calling, than teachers of today. This has been traced to the type of training which they had. If this is so, then it can be concluded that Teacher Training Programmes of the past produced better teachers, than what present day Teacher Training programmes are producing.
Therefore, to salvage the situation, it is necessary to look to the past and use it to enrich the present. On this note, it is important to re-visit the following for consideration:
The scrapping of the conventional Teachers Training Colleges in Nigeria, where teachers were well groomed in the Principles and Practice of Education, has become an ill wind. The TC II programmes used to be the basic foundation of Teachers Education in Nigeria. The effect of scrapping them has been the lack of thoroughness and depth, which characterise the teaching practice today. There is need to consider its re-introduction into the Senior Secondary School as was originally conceived of the 6-3-3-4 system, so that our children from the Junior Secondary School can be streamed into the Senior Secondary School (Teacher Education). Thereafter, they can progress into the Colleges of Education as initially envisaged.
In addition, the T.C. II curriculum should be enriched with functional Information Technology (IT), the Fundamentals of Counselling, Creative and Thinking Skills, Principles of Child Care and Effective Parenting. Holders of the T.C. II would be Care Givers (Not Teachers) in the Early Child Care and Development Education, ECCDE, Centres and Nursery Schools or Kindergartens, to be eventually attached to all primary schools across the country.
The problem of lack of flexibility of the curriculum for Teacher Education, must not go without mention. The society is not static, but dynamic and so the planning of the curriculum must give room for changes and must keep pace with the social, economic and technological advancement in the world. This is because, everyday new changes occur and so our teachers and our youths should move with the time. Curriculum development must therefore, be a process to meet with the aspirations and the needs of the Nigerian people. The Teacher Education Programmes should be re-planned to focus on both preparation for teaching and the acquisition of significant knowledge of the subject matter.
The training of teachers should be vigorously pursued. The institutions that prepare teachers must re-examine their roles and try to improve the quality of the existing teaching force. There are three principal educational institutions for teacher preparation. The first route is through the National Teachers Institute. The programmes of the National Teachers Institute, NTI are very poor. The NTI is the present basic foundation of Teacher Education in Nigeria. Unfortunately, the NTI teachers are teaching in the primary schools all over Nigeria. The second route is the Colleges of Education and the third route is through an academic degree in a given subject, plus one year post-graduate certificate course in pedagogy or an integrated three-year combined degree course in education and two teaching subjects, leading to the award of a Bachelor of Arts in Education, or Bachelor of Science in Education.
Most of the lecturers preparing teachers in the various Colleges of Education, Institutes of Education, Teachers Training Colleges and the Faculty of Education in our universities, are not trained teachers. There is a lot of difference between a trained graduate teacher and an untrained graduate teacher. For instance, some teachers teaching in the Colleges of Education do not possess a teaching qualification. One wonders what knowledge an untrained teacher has to train a teacher! You do not give what you do not have. Ideally, no graduate should teach without a professional Teachers Certificate.
A good Teacher Training Programme is key to the accomplishment of educational goals. All too often, the programmes involve inadequate coursework, inadequate pedagogical training, inadequate supervision, support, and mentoring.
The supply and training of teachers lie at the very heart of the foundations for teacher training in Nigeria. Improved student learning will take place, only when teachers have access to the necessary training, knowledge, skills, working conditions and material resources. So for them to have the tools they need, major changes must be made.
To be continued on Wed pg 18
*Dr. Ogbuagu, is a former commissioner for Education, Delta State.