Barring any last minutes change of heart by the Federal Government, unregistered teachers still in the education system in the country will soon be shown the way out of the classrooms. The registration, through the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), ended on December 31, 2019. The council vowed to weed out unregistered teachers.
Before the deadline, government had shifted the goal post twice following pleadings by the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) and some stakeholders to give room for those not registered to do so. The National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS) and some private schools teachers also made passionate appeal to government to open its doors for teachers who could not meet the deadline.
Over 2.2 million teachers registered with TRCN, while 1,936,330 million registered in 2018. Investigations revealed that many private school teachers and even some in public schools including their senior colleagues in the tertiary institutions did not register.
The United Nations, Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), described teachers as one of the most influential and powerful forces for equity, access, and quality in education and key to sustainable global development.
UNESCO however, observed that teachers’ training, recruitment, retention, status and working conditions remain preoccupying. The agency said Nigeria would need 4000,000 teachers in primary and secondary schools from 2012 to 2030, a far cry from 2.2 million that registered.
TRCN vows to chase out quacks from classrooms
Registrar and Chief Executive Officer of TRCN, Prof Josiah Ajiboye, vowed to implement the decision of the National Council on Education (NCE) taken in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, in November 2019, which empowered government to weed out unregistered teachers.
He said the NCE, the highest decision making body on education in Nigeria, reiterated its earlier position that anyone who wants to practice as a teacher in Nigeria must be qualified, registered and licensed by TRCN within the deadline of December 31, 2019:
‘’The aim of this policy decision is to weed out quacks and quackery from the teaching profession. One of the best practices globally is the Professional Qualifying examination introduced by the TRCN to ensure that anyone who wants to enter into the teaching profession is certified and licensed.
‘’As it is in other professions, so it should be for the teaching profession. Perhaps, if there is even any profession that should be highly regulated, it is supposed to be teaching, because teachers are nation builders. Their job is very delicate because they deal with the future of the country.
“TRCN is not a trade union. It is an agency of government under the Federal Ministry of Education, established to regulate the teaching profession in Nigeria. The council was established by Decree 31 of 1993 now CAP T3 of 2004. Some people still think TRCN is a teacher union, far from it. Like all other regulatory agencies of government, it is empowered by law to determine who are teachers and to regulate the profession in all ramifications in both public and private schools.
‘’TRCN will commence monitoring for compliance before the end of January 2020. Our staff in all the states of the federation and the FCT will be moving around schools to ensure compliance and compile the list of defaulters.’’
Statistics from TRCN as of 2018 showed that 1,936,330 million teachers in primary and secondary schools as well as in the universities, polytechnics, and colleges of education were registered with the council. A breakdown revealed that for primary schools, 1,310,988 million teachers registered, secondary schools, 506,962, while for the tertiary institutions, only 20,205 lecturers were captured.
The breakdown indicated that the nation has more female teachers than their male counterparts. In 2018, out of 1,310,988 registered primary school teachers, 741,362 were females as against 508,574 in 2015. For secondary schools, out of 506,988 registered teachers, 255,885 were females as against 201,532 of them in 2015. In tertiary institutions, the figures were different from the two lower sub-sector. In 2018, 13,261 male lecturers registered as against 8,091. While in 2015, it was 12,438 for male lecturers and 7,560 for the female counterparts.
Results of the May 2019 professional qualifying examinations showed that 22, 454 students passed the exam, representing 80.99 per cent while 5, 271 students failed which represents 19.01 per cent. For October 2019 exam, 47,565 students passed the qualifying examination, which represents 72.03 per cent and those who failed were 17, 125, representing 27.97 per cent.
Again, statistics obtained from elevation carried by TRCN in six states, one from each geo-political zone showed different degrees of response by teachers in public and private schools. In Bauchi State, out of 49,899 teachers, 39,598 representing 79.36 per cent are not registered and Cross River State, out of 19,067 teachers, 12,134 making 63.64 per cent registered.
Ebonyi State has 9,773 registered teachers out of 16, 472 representing 59.33 per cent, in Jigawa State, out of 17,617 teachers, 14,179 are not registered, representing 80.48 percent, for Nasarawa State, 12,112 teachers, representing 50. 38 per cent were registered out of 23, 830 and Ogun State recorded the highest with 13, 709 registered teachers out of 15,126, representing 90.63 per cent.
Ajiboye said: “The critical need of professionalisation of the teaching profession, vested in the TRCN began in 2007 with the mandatory registration of all professionally qualified teachers. This action is equally matched with comprehensive training and in-service training seminars and workshops in the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria.
“More importantly, the TRCN began implementation of the 2004 National Policy provision that all teachers in the educational institutions including universities shall be professionally trained.”
A retired public school teacher in Lagos, Otunba Lanre Adebayo, said: ‘’I expect government through TRCN to swing into action and weed out the unregistered teachers from the classrooms. The government must be serious about the issue and also weed out quacks from the profession. TRCN should be empowered to go after those who failed to register and ensure they are thrown out of the system.
“In other professions such as Engineering, Law, Medicine and Accounting, they are registered and regulated. So why will the teaching profession be different? Those who failed to comply with the directive be shown the way out of the education system.’’
A teacher in a private school in Ota, Ogun State, Mr Alade Oluwatobi, appealed to TRCN to give private school teachers another opportunity. He acknowledged that if government goes ahead to take drastic action, many of the teachers that would be affected will be from private schools: “Many did not take the registration serious and it is for the good of the profession. Government should give us another opportunity to do the needful.’’
Director, Centre for General Nigerian Studies (GNS), Lagos State University (LASU), Prof Biodun Akinpelu, said: ‘’I am a registered teacher myself, I registered with TRCN and I mobilised all my lecturers in LASU in the Faculty of Education to register and they did. I equally mobilised other lecturers to register for Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PDGE), so that they can register with TRCN. But the government is not serious about it, it is not just about giving a deadline, there should be consequences for not registering. I was expecting something like if you don’t register you can no longer practice then we have started.
‘’I will be glad if the government can sanction those who didn’t register. I will be very happy if TRCN can do that because you cannot practice Law without going to law school, without being certified as a lawyer. I am glad some professors registered here for PDGE including our former Acting Vice Chancellor.
“She registered for PDGE, she was in class and wrote our exam. They were all excited that we lost something and we are filling it up now. There should be consequences up till the university level. I believe Lagos State can start it, that in our university if you are not a trained teacher you cannot lecture there.’’
Immediate past president, NAPPS, Lagos State chapter, Alhaji Wasiu Adumadeyin, disclosed that the body held several of meetings with TRCN: “NAPPS is in support of the registration of teachers and government’s move to weed out quacks.
‘’We are asking for more time. Some of our teachers have not registered before the end of the deadline. We are having some challenges. We appeal to TRCN to still open the door for our members in Lagos to register.’’
Chairman, Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Lagos State, Otunba Adesina Adedoyin, said “Before the Federal Government deadline, about 85 per cent of our members were registered. It increased to 95 per cent during the period given for all teachers to register.
‘’If you are not registered with TRCN, you are not a teacher. With the registration, teachers will be accorded professional status like lawyers, doctors and accountants. If members go against the teaching ethics, they will face the tribunal.
‘’We do not want quacks in the profession. Teaching should not be an all-comers affair. We don’t want those who have no business in teaching take over the profession. The registration will help to weed out quacks. The qualifying exams are now taken in May, August and October, this gives genuine teachers the opportunity to become fully registered.”
President, NAPPS, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) chapter, Mrs Olusola Bankole, said: “With over 2,000 schools in Abuja, it will be difficult to give an accurate number of teachers in various schools registered before the deadline. Some teachers were registered. “Registration should be an on going thing to give room for more teachers to register, especially those who missed the last opportunity.’’
Many lecturers in the polytechnics and universities claimed ignorance of the directive and missed out. As stakeholders await government action on teachers who failed to comply with the December 31 deadline, many of them are worried and are hoping another opportunity will be opened to enable them register.