How dearth of teachers, poor monitoring affect learning
Nigeria’s education system is said to be on the decline in both the quality of teachers and learning. The quality of teachers has come under serious attack with many educationists saying that qualified teaching staff are now hard to come by especially at
Teachers used to work under strict supervision and monitoring because of the importance attached to education, and they were highly respected. Similarly, the education system in the past was designed to be accountable to all - students, parents and government - to ensure that all parties got value for their time, money and effort among others.
The role of education inspectors was on a high pedestal in the education system in the country as it helped in keeping teachers on their toes, and the teachers their pupils, but today, that quality control measure is downplayed.
While the federal and some state governments still send quality assurance inspectors to public schools, others have completely jettisoned them.
“As a secondary school student then, I remember we had supervisors who regularly came to our classes, and it was usually a tense moment for most of the teachers,” a postgraduate student of the University of Abuja, Oyin Hyacinth, said.
She said her teachers always worked hard to complete the syllabus before examination and even have time for revision for students.
According to Oyin, “there were times we had supervisors come unannounced but other times, the teachers got a tipoff that supervisors had started visiting and they would become more serious and check their lapses.”
She, however, said all through her mandatory one-year national service in a government school in New Karu, Nasarawa State, she never witnessed any visit by a school/education supervisor.
She maintained that the inspectors played an important role in ensuring the quality of teachers and teaching, adding that today, because teachers are relegated to the background and not given proper attention, it has indeed raised issues on the quality of teaching.
A teacher in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja said supervisors usually visited twice each term; one at the beginning of term from the Quality Assurance Department to check if the school was ready for resumption and the next, sometime during the term to check learning quality.
“Before, they usually come unannounced and find some of us unprepared, most times without preparing our lesson notes and when you are caught off guard you will be looking for a way to fill the lapses,” he said.
“Now we are relaxed because most of those working there now were teachers before so they inform us when there is going to be an inspection,” he revealed.
A teacher in a government secondary school in Jos, Plateau State capital, Aware Peter, said for a long time now, inspectors have not been visiting schools and that has surely affected the quality of teaching.
He said due to lack of supervisory inspection, many teachers across schools have refused to either improve themselves or get serious with their job, adding that some teachers cannot even write standard lesson plans, lesson notes, and lack classroom management and understanding of teaching ethics among others.
Many teachers today, he said, “are either not qualified or without passion for the vocation, and corps members who have no teaching background or experience whatsoever who are massively deployed to the classrooms without any machinery to check their teaching pattern or ability with the aim of upgrading them to a manageable standard.”
On her part, a French teacher at Government Secondary School, Lamingo, Jos, Mrs Joy Pankes, said those keeping a check on teaching/ teachers in her school are their school management — the principal, vice principal-academics, vice principal administration and the dean of studies.
She said the school management team supervises their school records, like lesson plans and how teachers break their scheme of work and generally play other supervisory roles.
She appealed to government to beam its searchlight on other public and private schools to take teachers’ supervision seriously so that “we will graduate students that can cope with the rigours of tertiary institutions and other educational realities of life.”
An SSS3 student of Government Secondary School, Kyan Rikkos in Jos North LGA, Adams Emmanuel, said the only time he saw inspectors was during examinations like WAEC and NECO.
Reacting, a source at the Plateau State Ministry of Education who preferred anonymity said inspectors are available but that there could be issues with some schools in terms of supervision and other challenges.
According to two teachers, one from Government Science Secondary School, Dekina and the other, Muslim Community Secondary School, Lokoja, the inspectors in the past did not inform the school authority of their visit before carrying out their inspection tour.
This, they concurred, gave room for conscious preparation by the teachers who would not like to be found wanting in their lesson notes, duty register or method of teaching.
“But today, before they come, they would have informed the principal of their visit weeks ahead to enable the school to make adequate preparation to satisfy their monetary interest at the expense of academic standard,” one of the teachers alleged.
For Mr. T. Abayomi of GSSS, Dekina, “what we should be thinking of is how to reverse the falling standard (of learning) that is resisting all efforts to redress.”
A teacher at the Muslim Community Secondary School, Lokoja who does not want to be named claimed that teachers were not motivated and that the curriculum given to schools in the state had no bearing on its educational needs but the interest of government officials who prioritise their interest and duplicate some subjects.
Some students told Daily Trust that they used to see inspectors in the school sometimes but didn’t know what they did or what transpired between them and their teachers.
In Gombe State, Daily Trust gathered that inspectors from the Quality Assurance Department of the state’s Ministry of Education only visited public schools for inspection occasionally, mostly at the beginning of the term.
A student of Government Science Secondary School II, Gombe, Muhammad Usman, said the last time inspectors visited his school was at the beginning of the second term but that since then they have not seen anybody from the education ministry.
He said even when the inspectors visited they never interacted with the students. “They only asked our teachers to see their lesson notes and scheme of work.”
A teacher who also does not want to be named said the inspectors only visited for full inspection once at the resumption of school activities after a term’s break. Usually, it is when they are looking for information, especially in preparation for NECO or WAEC examinations.
Another teacher alleged that inspectors visited their school, not for inspection, but to collect money from the principals whenever they are financially broke.
Experts speak supervisors
A lecturer with the Federal College of Education (Technical), Gombe, Dr Sani Yakubu Gombe, said the importance of inspectors in the education system cannot be overemphasised as they played the role of watchdogs in the teaching and learning process and environment.
He said apart from monitoring and evaluation in the teaching process, the inspectors also ascertain adequacy or otherwise of infrastructure and instructional materials in public schools.
Dr Yakubu added that in addition to poor supervision of schools by the inspectors, “they are also not allowed to do their job properly.”
“The Quality Assurance Department in the Ministry of Education is supposed to have seasoned educationists, but because of some vested interests, it becomes like a punishment ground for staff,” he said.
With “no vehicles for routine checks, no logistics for routine work, they feel frustrated and neglected, as such the work is not done properly. This contributed immensely to the decay in most of our public schools,” he said.
A teacher in one of the public schools in Gombe metropolis, Aishatu Saidu Muhammad, told Daily Trust that “inspection cannot be carried out all the time but administrators are there every moment in the schools to ensure that teachers are doing their work effectively.”
She noted that “regular inspection will make school administrators put more effort in ensuring that both teaching and non-teaching staff carry out their duties effectively.”
When contacted, the Information Officer of the Gombe State Ministry of Education, Saidu Bappah Malala, confirmed that the inspection was usually done when schools open and then towards the end of terms.
He added that the Quality Assurance Department of the ministry also visits schools periodically to keep the staff on their toes, which he said contributes immensely to improvement in students’ performance in public schools.
The Director of Press and Public Relations of the Federal Ministry of Education, Mr. Ben Goong, said they have set up a Secondary Education Commission that is now taking care of that.
While noting that efforts are on to bring the education inspectors back, he said the director general of the commission will be in a better postion to speak on the issue.
However, the reporter could not get to him at the time of filing this report.
The Quality Assurance Department in the Ministry of Education is supposed to have seasoned educationists, but because of some vested interests, it becomes like a punishment ground for staff,” he said.