The Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria has come down hard on some proprietors of private schools, saying they contribute to the poor standard of education by employing quacks as teachers.
It accused the private school owners of allegedly promoting quackery to maximise profit.
The council’s registrar, Prof Josiah Ajiboye, disclosed this in an interview with Sunday PUNCH on Friday.
The TRCN is an agency of the Federal Ministry of Education of Nigeria which has as its major mandate regulation and control of the teaching profession at all levels, both in the public and private sectors.
The registrar accused some private school owners of unleashing just anybody on pupils in the name of hiring teachers.
He said while a large percentage of teachers in public schools are well-trained and qualified, the same could not be said of private schools.
The TRCN had earlier said about 90 per cent of teachers in private schools in the south-western states of Ogun, Lagos, Osun, Oyo, Ondo and Ekiti were not qualified to be registered with the council.
Shedding more light on this in an interview with Sunday PUNCH, Ajiboye said, “Based on a survey carried out by a consultant working with the TRCN, about 90 per cent of teachers in private schools in the South-West are not qualified to be registered with TRCN.
“If this is the situation in the South-West, you can imagine the preponderance of unqualified teachers in private schools in Nigeria as a whole. Whereas a large percentage of teachers in public schools are qualified and have registered with TRCN, the same cannot be said of teachers in private schools.
“The TRCN has focused on mobilisation of teachers in private schools to first get qualified by registering for Postgraduate Diploma in Education or Professional Diploma in Education as the case may be, to make them registrable with the TRCN so that they can be certified.”
The TRCN also called on states to vet the list of teachers before registering new schools. It stated, “TRCN is following up with the state governments that register these private schools to make available the list of their teachers as part of the conditions for registration. Before your school is registered, let us see the list of your teachers to be sure they are qualified, registered and licensed by the TRCN.
“We have also embarked on enlightenment campaigns among private school teachers to promote professionalism at that level.”
While knocking some private school owners for promoting quackery to maximise profit, Ajiboye added, “It is a truism that some private school owners promote this quackery in teaching, because they want to maximise profit. They could just employ just anyone and unleash them on our children. We have been having discussions with private school owners to discourage such practices. Yes, indeed, government alone cannot provide education to the teeming population of Nigerian children, private participation is a welcome development.
“However, the commercialisation of education must be discouraged. Competent and qualified teachers are sine qua non to quality education.”
Meanwhile, the President, National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools, Abayomi Otubela, disagreed with the TRCN, saying all approved private school teachers are qualified, adding that the TRCN might be referring to illegal schools.
He stated, “It depends on what you mean by private schools. If it is approved private schools that are operating with approvals, over 90 per cent of those teachers are professionals and certified.
“However, schools are running without approval and in situations where the government is dealing with an association of unapproved schools, the TRCN may be mistaking the illegal schools to be private schools. The government should establish more schools to cater to people. If the government establishes schools and provides infrastructure, there won’t be room for illegal schools to exist.”
However, the National President, National Parents-Teachers Association of Nigeria, Haruna Danjuma, agreed with the TRCN that unqualified teachers in private schools outnumber the qualified ones.
Danjuma said, “The statistics they (the TRCN) came up with is correct. When you go to any of the private schools, they are in categories. There are those at the lower level within the community. Some of those schools are not even registered with the Ministry of Education in their states.
“There are some, even by the way they operate, no one can say they are schools because they just rent a room and a parlour in a house and they have started a school. Some of the proprietors are not trained teachers and when you are talking of education, you should not involve those who are out of the line (of education) to be proprietors or the head of the school and so on. You need to have trained teachers; either retired teachers or serving teachers, who are in the teaching profession that want to own a school or operate a school.
“So, it is true that in most of the schools at stages one and two, you hardly can find a trained teacher working in those private schools because such schools cannot engage trained teachers, given that they cannot afford to give them their entitlements.”
Danjuma, however, admitted that some categories of private schools could never hire unqualified teachers, adding, “We indeed have unqualified teachers who outnumber the trained teachers in some of our private schools, but in some of the private schools we have in category one, you hardly can have unqualified teachers outnumbering the qualified teachers.”
He urged parents to monitor the schools where their children were enrolled to know the number of teachers, their qualifications and whether or not they were registered.
The Chairman, Committee of TRCN, Lagos State University, Dr Oludare Olufowobi, said he was aware of the council’s finding, adding that the TRCN was out to professionalise teaching.
Olufowobi said, “If TRCN says most of the teachers are not qualified, you will see many teachers in schools today who do not have certificates in education. Someone who studied English might want to claim that he or she is a teacher, but by TRCN standards, the person is not. The person might have the quality but not the qualification.
“The TRCN has come up with several programmes to certify the persons who need the certification.”
An educationist, Prof Peter Ogunjuyigbe of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, blamed the situation on the rate of unemployment, adding that private schools are after profit and that some do not bother about the quality of education the pupils receive.
Ogunjuyigbe said, “It is a known fact that most of the people teaching in nursery and primary schools are not teachers. They are not qualified teachers. When they finished school, when they didn’t get any other job related to their fields, they opted for teaching in private schools. Most of the teachers you have in the private schools are not trained and this is affecting the quality of education.
“Many are going into teaching in private schools because that is the only alternative. When somebody who is supposed to become an engineer could not secure a job and then becomes a teacher to earn a living, what do you expect? The schools have been turned into a business venture, and as a business, profit-making is the goal. That is why you see some of the schools engage anybody and pay whatever they like to them.”
According to him, with the increase of unqualified teachers in private schools, the quality of education in the country would continue to fall.
He also urged the government to ensure periodic training for teachers in private schools and ensure that proprietors recruit only certified teachers.
He added, “Globally, for you to be a teacher, you have to have undergone training which they call Training of the Trainer. The government did well by setting up the TRCN but there should be short-term training for teachers, including those in the private schools. They should not concentrate on public schools alone.”
Another educationist, Dele Olateju, lamented that having unqualified teachers to teach pupils at the basic level might deprive them of adequate learning standards and exposure.
He added, “The Federal Ministry of Education and the National Council of Education must stop them. The learning achievement of an average Chinese, American, or English child cannot be compared with that of a Nigerian because of the exposure they have. In Nigeria, all the laws are there. The Nigerian law states that the minimum entry into the teaching profession is the NCE. So, we know that the laws are there. The problem is the enforcement.”
A professor of Educational Management at the Ekiti State University, Ayodele Joseph, said TRCN’s notice was to ensure that only certified professionals were retained.
He added, “The implication of having many unqualified teachers is that it will produce substandard background and the quality will be watered down. Those pupils will suffer at the end of the day.
“This is why we are ensuring that whoever is teaching our children must be competent to be able to give them quality education. The government should ensure that unqualified teachers are not employed in the schools, especially in the private ones. This also depends on the enforcement of the provisions of the law. There should be a monitoring agency or task force that will engage those schools and even give a moratorium for them to close down.”
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Union of Teachers, Federal Capital Territory Wing, has directed primary school teachers in the FCT to commence an indefinite strike on Monday following the refusal of the government to meet its demands.
In a communiqué jointly signed by the Chairman, Stephen Knabayi; Secretary, Margaret Jethro; and the Publicity Secretary, Haruna Samson, on Friday, a copy of which was sighted by one of our correspondents, the union advised parents to keep their wards and children safe at home until its demands were met by the government.
The communiqué, which was issued at the end of the State Wing Executive Council emergency meeting at the FCT Teachers’ House in Abuja noted that the meeting deliberated extensively on the state of education in Abuja and teachers’ welfare, particularly the seven-day ultimatum to the six Area Councils within which to pay the 40 per cent peculiar and other outstanding allowances of the primary school teachers.
The communiqué read in part, “Having explored and exhausted all available avenues of getting these outstanding demands of the concerned teachers met without the desired result including the non-commitment of the councils to the welfare of primary school teachers, the SWEC-in-Session resolved to direct all primary school teachers to embark on an indefinite strike action.
“The union hereby directs all primary school teachers in the FCT to comply by proceeding on an indefinite strike action with effect from Monday, September 11, 2023. Parents are to remain guided by keeping their wards and children safe at home until the union’s demands are met.”