By Laide Akinboade
ABUJA – THE Federal Government is set to make first degree the minimum teaching qualification in Nigeria.
Minister of Education, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, disclosed this yesterday, when he received Finnish Ambassador to Nigeria, Pirjo Suomela-Chowdhury, who paid him a visit in his office in Abuja.
He said the Federal Government would explore all measures to restore the respect, dignity and status of teachers in the country.
He was reacting to Ambassador Suomela-Chowdhury’s declaration that all teachers in Finland had a minimum of masters degree and that teaching is a highly competitive profession because of huge interest by too many qualified people.
The minister, who said the target of the Federal Government was to make first degree as minimum teaching qualification, noting that from 1980, the minimum teaching qualification to teach in schools was National Certificate in Education, NCE.
He said this could be upped to first degree in time to come, adding that currently, there was a number of graduates teaching in primary schools in the country.
Shekarau recalled that the country was able to get over the practice in the past where primary school leavers were engaged to teach.
He said: “The level was raised to Teacher Grade 3 in the 60s, and later on in early 70s, it was minimum of Grade 2, and this was later phased out in the early 80s to a minimum of NCE.
“Gradually we will get there. We hope that a day will come when all our schools including pre-primary will be handled by university graduates.
“The rate at which our universities are increasing shows that in time to come that will be our target. We have a lot to learn from each other regardless of the factor of the size. The challenges are the same.”
He said apart from the general agenda of government for improving access and quality of education, his particular concern as Minister of Education was to improve the quality of teachers as a key factor.
“We must continuously increase the number of teachers, improve the quality of teachers, improve the condition of teacher training institutions and continuously review the curriculum of teacher education to make sure it catches up with the challenges, address that issues of teachers’ welfare and job security,” he said.