By Gabriel Dike
A professor of Social Studies, Civic Environmental Education, University of Ibadan (UI), Josiah Ajiboye, has described teachers as essential players in promoting quality education, thus, the need to engage the best and qualified teachers. He was delivering the 488th inaugural lecture of the premier university, titled, “In the Classroom, as a Regulator.”
The lecture attracted the the acting vice-chancellor, Prof. Emmanuel Ekanola, deputy VC (research), Prof. Olanike Adeyemo, deputy VC (administration), Prof. Kayode Adebowale, and registrar, Mrs. Olubumni Faluyi. Chairman of the Teachers’ Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), was represented by Prof. Bayole Popoola, national president, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, and branch chairmen were also in attendance.
Ajiboye, who is the registrar of TRCN, observed that the hydra-headed crisis of quality and quantity of teachers demands a strong policy response. He opined that rebuilding the system should take into account how the once-cherished vocation, the mother of all professions, would attract the best brains and retain them: “This, therefore, means no education reform is likely to succeed without the active participation and ownership of teachers. The major operators here are not researchers, they are not policymakers but they are teachers, hence the need to professionalize.
“We must urgently do a review of our teacher education policy and programmes to produce teachers for the 21st century classroom. The rest of the world is not waiting for Nigeria. Professional training is critical, just as mastery of subject matter, teachers’ welfare and an environment that promotes learning.
“The image of the teacher is dependent on society’s image of teaching. The prevailing teacher profile is that of someone with a low level of education, low socio-economic background and who is un-skilled. The era of ‘house for rent, not for teachers’ should be a forgotten history in our country.
“An important question to ask will, therefore, be: is re-profiling and re-branding the teacher feasible? The answer lies first of all in having political-goodwill, establishment of the necessary legal framework and a commitment to its implementation so as to make teacher re-profiling and re-branding an integral part of all education development initiatives.
“Admission into colleges of education and faculties of education in Nigeria should be stricter. The current practice is dangerous for the future of our education. Those who want to teach our children should be the best in our society and not the dregs. The UTME cut-off marks into colleges of education and faculties of education, if possible, should rank among the highest.”
Ajiboye noted that, for quality education to be achieved, there must be adequate quality teachers who have gone through quality training, hence the need to re-brand and re-profile the teacher: “For this to be realised, there is the need to regulate the teaching profession with a view to ensuring the provision of quality teachers for quality teaching and learning.
“Africa is arguably the least developed continent in many aspects and there is an increasing awareness that the continent will not be able to develop without adequate investment in its people through provision of quality education.
“Education, therefore, must be seen to remain a key investment for our country because of its enormous accruing social economic benefits. The development of any country will be determined by the level and growth of its human capital whose investment in education forms a major component.
“Furthermore, rapidly changing technologies and increasing globalization suggest that better education; training and human resource development becomes essential for sustainable livelihood and competitiveness for both urban and rural economies,” he said.
Ajiboye disclosed that scholars extended the first study on teacher research to find out what extent do classroom teachers benefit from academic research outputs from higher institutions in Africa and what are the implications for quality teacher education programme:
“Our position was that quality of teachers in African schools is expected to be enhanced by the quality of researches from faculties in various universities all over the continent. The essence of academic research is to make contribution to educational knowledge that informs school reform efforts and professional development of teachers.
“The implications of these findings for policy-making was for various governments to build more classrooms and provide more teaching and learning materials. The country is still grappling with this challenge of teaching and learning in large under-resourced classrooms.”
Ajiboye said, as the chief executive of the TRCN, he was the number one teacher regulator in the country, noting that his appointment provided him the opportunity to translate his research and academic experience to the practical field of a regulator: “I have had the privilege of travelling the length and breadth of Nigeria for induction exercises. One major thing I have added to the induction programme is that, since 2018, only those who passed the Professional Qualifying Examination Integrated are inducted.
“A major radical contribution I have made to the teaching profession in Nigeria is the introduction of professional qualifying examination before registration. By the time I got to TRCN, I discovered that teachers will just bring their certificate and were registered as professional teachers. I consider this a serious anomaly. We then decided to introduce the professional qualifying examination.
“The import of the professional qualifying examination is that no person will be registered to practice as a teacher unless they pass the prescribed professional qualifying examination. The examination attests to the prospective applicants’ proficiency and ability to discharge the teaching duties. In order to create synergy, the council produced PQE module, which was launched and presented to the general public and it contains set of standards on what teachers are expected to know at every level which they shall be examined on.”
He said the professional qualifying examination integrated was introduced to have first-hand assessment of the performance of graduating education students in tertiary institutions in the country: “The introduction helped to mitigate certificate forgery; collection of authentic data of candidates and easy certification for students among others.
“Our intention is that teachers should be removed from the regular scheme of service for civil servants, which has stifled growth and opportunities for development for teachers as professionals.
“Teaching has been officially recognized as a profession in the country by the establishment of Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria, through CAP T3 of 2004. The policy on career path is designed to operationalize the provisions of the professional standards for the teaching profession in Nigeria.
“The policy is aimed at improving the competencies and skills of the professionally trained, registered and licensed teachers and school leaders in the country. Professionally unqualified teachers are not beneficiaries of the competency and skills development process as outlined in the career path policy.
“A successful implementation of the policy on career path will create high impact learning environment and schools of excellence across Nigeria, which will accelerate public trust and restore the glory of the teaching profession.”
He insisted that technologies would not replace teachers, but teachers who know how to use technology would probably replace those who do not know how to use it: “A 21st century teacher must be technologically savvy!
“The choice of the title of the lecture was informed in part by my training as a Social Studies teacher and teacher educator and in part by my extensive research, guided by the words of Barber G. Conable, a one-time president of the World Bank.
“In the beginning, teaching was so glorious and so noble that in every community teachers were considered next to kings in importance and in the development of the society. However, unprecedented rise in societal demand for education, the institutionalization of materialism in Nigeria, emergence of greener pastures and other factors forced teachers into a relegated position.
“Today, it is no longer news that teaching profession needs rediscovery and repositioning. A situation where everyone is free to stand in front of the classroom to perform the job of a teacher is sheer anarchy and the nation is already paying a great price for that neglect.
“The establishment of TRCN in 1993 was a big boost to the status of teaching in the country. It was the fulfillment of an important criterion required for teaching to get the status of a profession. Since its establishment, the TRCN has been working relentlessly to uphold the teaching profession in the country.
“Many studies have attested to the fact that good teaching matters, and that some teachers contribute more to the achievements and academic growth of their students than others. Research has not been successful in respect of identifying the specific teacher qualifications, characteristics and classroom practices that are most likely to improve student learning.”
Ajiboye is the first professor of Social Studies Education in the university. His inaugural lecture was also the first from the university’s Department of Arts and Social Sciences Education.
Prof. Ekanola commended Ajiboye for his contributions in his field of study and paying his academic dues.