By Favour Nnabugwu
Nigeria remains the only E-9 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) facing serious challenges of turning around the illiteracy rate among its youths and adults by the 2015 timeline set to achieve education for all (EFA) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The importance and linkage of education to the development of any society is well known. It is in recognition of this importance that the international community and governments all over the world have made commitments for citizens to have access to education. Meanwhile, it has been documented that across the globe, there are inequalities in educational access and achievement as well as high levels of absolute educational deprivation of both children and adults.

Minister of Education, Prof Ruqayyatu Rufa’i said an ambitious developmental plan has been launched to take the nation into the league of prosperous one, in terms of development.

She said at an education summit held last year that it was unanimously observed that the teacher education in terms of quality and quantum and their motivation was central to having a vibrant and productive sector “that can take Nigeria to the promise land.”

The minister was speaking in Abuja while declaring open the 2011 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) nationwide capacity building workshops for teachers.

Also in his remarks, the minister of state for education, Chief Ezenwo Nyesom Wike, said the annual retraining programme for Nigerian teachers was an event that seeks to improve through professional practices through shared knowledge and experiences. The approach adopted for the workshop is one of peer-interaction, group activity and mass participation he said.

He said the ministry recently approved the conduct of research by the institute on the skill gaps of teachers in public schools especially and a census of all private schools which would serve as a guide to design trainings to close the gaps.

The retraining of 125, 000 teachers of primary and junior secondary schools across the federation will cost N3.7 billion, it was gathered . The 2011 training workshops will concentrate on the teaching of core subjects such as English, Mathematics, Social Studies and Basic Science and Technology. It will also focus on thematic areas such as teaching large classes, coping with children with special needs, teaching in Small Rural Multigrade schools and continuous assessments of the children.

Dr. Aminu Sharehu, Director General of the National Institute in Abuja said that the training of teachers is focused on the methodology which will facilitate the effective teaching of the four major subjects and as well improve their skills on how to teach the students in the classrooms.

He stated that this year’s training was unique because of the components of the junior secondary school teachers. He said, “Previously, we have been training only primary school teachers. It has to be a continuous exercise at least three times in a year. This year, the junior secondary school teachers were co-opted.” On the aspect of students poor performance in their academics, Sharehu said the welfare of teachers, continuous upgrading of teachers qualification from one academic qualification to the other amongst other basic components have to be met in other to produce quality teachers required for the country.

The first phase of the programme which holds from 5 to 7 of September in the North- West, North Central and South-South geopolitical zones while the second phase would hold between September 12 and 17 in the North-East, South-East and South West geo-political zones.

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