Stakeholders have expressed concern about the waning interest of youths in the teaching profession which they claimed can be seen in the unwillingness of university new intakes to apply for careers in education courses. They mooted their views over the worrisome development at an event organized by the Faculty of Education, Lagos State University (LASU), in collaboration with Youths Orientation for Development, to mark the 2019 UNESCO World Teachers Day.
Themed “Young Teachers: Future of the Profession,” chairman of the event, Mr. Kolawole Samson, Managing Director/CEO of University Press Ltd, said strengthening the institutional framework in the educational system, would require a number of steps to increase access for the number of youths willing to take up the teaching profession.
Samson called for the introduction of incentives that would attract intelligent youths into the teaching profession in the face of looming qualified manpower crisis faced by the country in the education sector. He said in recent times there is evidence to show that youths wishing to take the profession are indecisive due to poor remuneration and poor working environment.
In his contribution, the Chairman, Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), Ojo Chapter, Mr Tajudeen Oladipupo, who was one of the discussants featured in the panel of discussion, noted that decades ago, teachers were some of the most respected members of the Nigerian society. They were revered, in a manner of speaking, worshipped by the society they helped to educate.
That respect, he added, stemmed, not only for their intellect, but also from their determination to spend the most productive part of their lives toiling in a profession that is not known to produce millionaires. “Even in retirement, their views were respected in the communities where they lived,” he said. But he regretted that today, things are no longer as they were as the profession has become less attractive, especially to the youth. This development, he insists, is a wake-up call on the govt and all concerned educational authorities to do something to reverse the ugly trend before the teaching profession goes into extinction.
Backing up his argument with statistics of freshmen offered provisional admission into Nigerian universities in recent years, Oladipupo lamented the dwindling number of youths registering to study education-related courses. He added that those of them who eventually chose to read education courses do so not because they like to but as an option not to stay at home.
“Anyone who is forced to read education may not have the passion and interest to deposit 100 percent of knowledge in the students or pupils,” he warned. Societal attitude is not helping matters, he said. He noted that presently across the country, teaching is suffering immense battering from wide spectrum of the society. While there are some highly qualified teachers doing their bid to further the country’s educational development, the Nigerian society is unrelenting in its attempt to position dishevelled, truant, unqualified, indiscipline teachers as the face of teaching in the country, he lamented.
Added to this is the twin evil of poor welfare/remuneration packages, joining forces to ensure that the apathy and disdain displayed towards the profession remains at an all-time high. There is also the problem of discouragement from parents and guardians who express their disappointment if their wards indicate interest in pursuing academic careers in education courses. “The growing apathy for the teaching profession stems, basically, from the way it is viewed in the larger society, especially when it comes to how contemporary Nigerian youths view teaching as a profession.”
While presenting their views on the topic, “How to attract young people to the teaching profession,” the panel of discussants urged government to flush out unqualified teachers from the profession, increase education budget as well as equip teachers with modern teaching-learning gadgets.
Contributing to the discussion, the Tutor-General of Education District 1, Mrs.Margaret Solar, gave a number of reasons the youths’ interest in teaching profession is waning at great speed. “Teaching as a profession involves a heavy workload,” she said. “It is both brain-tasking and time-consuming. Twenty first century youths would rather prefer jobs which allow ample time for them rather than the teaching profession.
“Secondly, teaching demands that teachers should be life-long learners as this is the only way they can have mastery of their subject matter but Nigerian youths would rather read to pass examinations than read as a way of life. Thirdly, teachers are known to be role models. They are known to “walk the talk.” Most Nigerian youths would prefer to choose professions where they will be free to express themselves.”
A representative of NUT said he was jolted when none of the students who made presentations during the event indicated interest in taking up teaching as a profession.
In a keynote address, the Deputy Vice Chancellor, LASU, Prof. Olumide Noah, charged NUT to wake up to the issue of quality by organizing more training programmes and establishing better institutions for teachers, which he said lost their glory in some parts of the country where they were ridiculed due to their poor peformance during an aptitude test. Noah urged the body to ensure that teachers are trained periodically and closely supervised. Such training, he said, should be structured as not to disrupt their classroom duties. “Gone are the days when a teacher takes on all subjects. Because of knowledge explosion, teachers need to keep improving by surmounting challenges.”
He charged the NUT to monitor and liase with government to ensure better funding for education. He also advocated a work environment very conducive for teachers to discharge their duties.
The President of Youths Orientation Development, Emmanuel Ejiogu said his organisation has started a pilot project in literacy and language development for schools in Lagos State, adding that management and leadership skills were also being taught to teachers and council managers who are expected to also train their peers. With the aid of some of the projects, they intend to improve the standard of teaching and learning, by making teachers acquire digital skills. Steps like this, he said, helps in getting teachers to be in tune with the country’s developmental aspirations.
He stressed that any society that does not accord teaching its pride of place is dead. He warned that when intelligent people abandon teaching for other professions, their children are almost always “taught by never-do-wells.” The most intelligent people in any organised society go into teaching, he said. He described teaching as “about the best profession in the world” because of the capacity of the teacher to shape the minds of the pupils and the future of a country. Those who make their marks in the profession are those intelligent people, who went into it willingly, and without preparing to make millions out of it, he added. “In history, teaching profession has never been a profession that parades millionaires, yet the best brains were very happy to go into it.”