Council will reinforce tribunal to deal with teacher misconduct - Prof Ajiboye
The Registrar of Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), Professor Josiah Olusegun Ajiboye, says teachers behaving inappropriately in schools would have their licenses withdrawn and prosecuted where necessary.
African teachers under the auspices of Africa Federation of Teachers Regulatory Authorities (AFTRA) recently met in Abuja. What is the outcome?
AFTRA comprises of regulatory authorities and teaching councils in Africa and other stakeholders including teacher unions. The conference brought together practitioners and professionals in the field of education that analyzed the issues on education and professionalism towards bringing about quality and better education system. Papers were presented on all areas and a communiqué was released reemphasizing the importance of teaching councils and ensuring that each country has a council and promotes quality teaching.
The conference also looked at the challenges facing the councils in implementing mandatory professional continuing development programmes of teachers. And this is critical because teachers are not recruited to teach for years without any training. A teacher needs to be educated, learn and relearn continuously.
A teacher is always expected to win the minds of his students. What does it take to be a competent teacher?
A teacher who can use the available resources to achieve an objective and combine efficiency and knowledge is the person we call effective teacher who also must possess the requisite knowledge of his subject area. He must be at his best and have the skills to deliver knowledge which we call pedagogical skill. So, the content and pedagogy must go together. In essence, what you are to teach is as important as how you are going to teach it.
Apart from that, there are core values which a teacher should demonstrate including, integrity, sense of hope for students, sense of urgency, continuous self-learning and mutual respect and responsibility. We don’t want pedophile teachers, teachers who cannot communicate or dress well and irresponsible teachers. We have ethics and code of conduct. A teacher must dress decently in fact Imo State, is prescribing dressing code for teachers. The way you appear is the way you will be treated because your appearance tells a lot about your courage and comportment.
Teacher motivation is a factor for classroom effectiveness. Is the recent proposal by the government for graduate teachers to start work at above GL-08 feasible?
That is a proposal that is taken to the Federal Executive Council by the Ministry of Education under Malam Adamu Adamu that graduate teachers should start on a grade above GL-08. In other countries, such as Germany, teachers get the highest pay, because you want the best from them. If approved, that would improve the image of our teachers; teachers must be valued and appreciated. The TRCN will soon start advocacy on teachers’ welfare.
The council conducted Professional Qualifying Examination (PQE) for teachers recently. What is its essence and how do you classify teachers to take part in the exam?
We conducted one last year but we shall be conducting two exams annually, in May and October from 2018. This year’s May exam which was supposed to be on the 26th has been shifted to 8th and 9th of June because some states have local elections while others observe sanitation exercise and there is restriction of movement.
The benchmark was developed based on the four categories of the teachers we have. Grade A are the PhD holders, Grade B, masters degree holders, Grade C, first degree and Grade D, NCE holders. So, if you are an NCE holder, you take the Grade D exam and when you acquire a degree, you can take Grade C and your license would be upgraded but the certificate will remain the same.
This is done to improve quality teaching because the public said it is not good to just register people and give them certificates without knowing the authenticity of their qualifications. So, this is another way of gate-keeping and if you fail the exam, you cannot be registered. It will have prefabricating effect on the quality of education because it will spur would-be-teachers who want to take the exam to work harder and seriously.
There are hundreds of teachers that haven’t obtained TRCN certificates. What happens to them?
The National Council of Education reviewed its position last year and extended the deadline for teachers to acquire the council’s certification to 2019 or to be shown the way out. TRCN is presently monitoring activities in schools in six states and waiting for the consultant to submit the report which would contain the lists of both qualified and unqualified teachers. The resources provided could only cover six states but the number of states would be increased this year.
As part of your responsibility,
do you know the number qualified teachers in Nigeria?
There are close to two million teachers certified and registered with the council. They are not enough for Nigeria and in Africa in general there is a shortage of over 7 million teachers and the largest share would come from Nigeria. This includes higher institutions and there is a deficit of 65,000 PhD holders in Nigerian universities. What complicates the matter is that it is not only government that provides education; there are private providers. of
Prior to your appointment as registrar, the council was said to be inactive. How did you achieve a remarkable turnaround?
The forerunners have tried their best. A solid foundation has already been laid and we are building on it and getting the support of stakeholders especially the Nigeria Union of Teachers. We are involving a lot of stakeholders for instance, the registrar doesn’t go to schools for accreditation rather he appoints experts and professors to handle it.
Many teachers are accused of disturbing behaviors such as extortion, sex-for-marks and battering. How is the council reacting to this?
Teachers have to be above board and must see themselves as parents. They should guide children and every form of abuse by teachers is repugnant to the council. We have the Teachers Investigative Panel and the Teachers Tribunal that are supposed to be in all the states and due to paucity of funds we are trying to see how states can take ownership of these bodies through the National Council on Education to enhance investigation and discipline. Teachers found misbehaving in schools would have their certificate and license withdrawn and face prosecution. We monitor the schools and if we hear any major incident, including exam fraud, we shall follow it to court.
Professor Josiah Olusegun Ajiboye