Low-performing students difficult to transform – NCCE scribe
HGenerally, many people will say the standard is low but what we have to contend with is the issue of ‘garbage in, garbage out.’ The institutions that are training teachers are doing a lot. What comes out of these institutions has a direct relationship with what goes into them. When the input is good, the output will be good. When the input is bad, no matter what the training institutions do, you will still not be able to completely wipe away the deficiency and come out with the best of the products. So, we have mixed output from our institutions because we have mixed input. The teaching method in our colleges has been quite challenging, time has changed, methodology is changing, new ways of teaching are evolving, new facilities have been developed; some of them yet to come into our country.
Why I am still talking about the input, you remember that in Nigeria, the desire of every parent or of every secondary school products is to go to the university. So, the people that go to colleges of education do so out of the lack of good result. That’s why we find out that at the end of every UTME, you have different cut off points for universities, polytechnics and even lower cut off points for the colleges of education. So, at the end of it all, the kind of people that are admitted into colleges of education are the ones universities have rejected. So, turning such low quality input into very wonderful output may not be easy but the colleges are trying.
Do you think it is crucial to upgrade of teaching qualification to B.Ed at basic level?
Teachers are needed at different stages of education from preprimary to tertiary level. None is Professor Monday T. Joshua, the Executive Secretary, National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE), in this interview, says the quality of Nigerian teachers depends on the quality of students adding that teachers encounter difficulties in transforming low-performing students. more important than the other. In fact, if anything, it should even be the teachers at the very basic level that should be more important because when the foundation is faulty, there is very little you can do up there. Teachers at that stage should be motivated to do their own work and build solid foundation in the children.
Do you support the switch from NCE to B.ED as the minimum teaching qualification?
The switch will not change things. When we shifted from Teachers’ Grade II as the minimum teaching qualification to NCE, how much did we achieve? It is not just the shifting that will do the magic; the orientation of Nigerians also has to be changed. Many university graduates would not want to teach at primary level. We know some societies that have people with masters and even PhDs teaching elementary education. Until we change that orientation, the issue of shifting the minimum teaching qualification will not really solve the problem. What need to be done is to upgrade and fortify the teacher training institutions to produce quality NCE teachers in the relevant areas.
How can these colleges be fortified?
The proprietors need to provide the necessary facilities. Ours is to do accreditation. We don’t have control over the facilities that are being owned and used by the colleges to train the teachers. We only assess and accredit after satisfying with the facilities. That is one way. The other way is, the trainers (lecturers) in the colleges need to update themselves. Time has changed and people have to go for extra training. The skills they have acquired before trained may not be relevant now
There is also a call for NCCE to be changed to National Commission for Teacher Education. What’s your take on that?
The arrangement in the country now is that the NCCE supervises the colleges and the colleges are producing teachers for the basic education level. Now the universities produce graduate teachers that are expected to handle senior secondary level and beyond. But we will appreciate a situation where the concept of teacher education is being put together, implemented together and supervised together. We believe that will be a neater and effective way of facing teacher education. We always say, and it is captured in our national policy, that no nation can rise above the quality of its teachers. So, the position of teachers in the national development is very strategic. If we can have a commission, a body that concentrate on teacher education in Nigeria, we believe it will be fantastic.
If we can have a commission that coordinates teacher education in Nigeria at all levels, it will drive the policy of getting teachers right from the basic to tertiary level, just as we have NBTE which supervises technical education.
What’s your take on entry qualification into colleges of education?
We don’t really complain about entry qualification. The entry qualification to colleges is four credits just like the polytechnics, while five credits for the universities. The issue is not entry qualification but the decision of the person seeking admission. Many admission seekers don’t not have teaching in mind but only get to colleges after failed attempts to secure admission in the university. Instead, of staying at home, they get to the colleges reluctantly to read NCE. Such persons will lack what we called intrinsic motivation and that will affect their performance in the college.