By Dayo Adesulu, Ebele Orakpo, Tare Youdeowei & Elizabeth Uwandu
Bothered by the shortage of quality teachers in our schools, concerned stakeholders are suggesting a restoration of teacher training colleges (TTCs), noting that asking graduates of colleges of education (NCE holders) to teach in primary schools has not achieved the desired goals.
Products of teacher training colleges (TTCs) were described as professionals with deep knowledge of the content of their subjects, possessed impressive teaching skills, good work ethics, efficiency and commitment to the teaching profession.
The Grade III and Grade II teachers of yore were known to prepare lessons notes, related with parents on the progress of theor children, and will neither aid nor abet examination malpractices.
Quality of teachers
The British colonialists started formal education in Nigeria with emphasis on the three Rs — Reading, Writing, and ‘Rithmetics. The first institution set up to train teachers came up in 1896, when the Church Missionary Society (CMS), now the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) established St. Andrews Teachers’ College, Oyo. This improved the quality of teachers who were hitherto standard six certificate holders. Grade III teachers were then being produced. With time, many more TTCs were established.
Baptist Training College, Ogbomosho was established in 1897, followed by St. Paul’s Training College, Awka in 1904. In 1905, Oron got Oron Training Institute, just as Ibadan got Wesleyan Training Institute in 1928. In 1929, St. Charles Training College, Onitsha was established.
In Northern Nigeria, the government was directly involved in the funding and managing of their teachers colleges. Teachers Training College, Katsina and Toro Teachers’ Training College, are clear examples.
Today, many of the TTC facilities have become an eyesore following adoption of a policy stipulating that that the National Certificate in Education (NCE) be the lowest teaching qualification in Nigeria..
The condition of former Methodist Teacher Training College, Shagamu and Muslim Teacher Training College, MTTC, Oru-Ijebu, left much to be desired when Vanguard Learning (VL) visited these two campuses.
While MTTC, Oru has been occupied for years by Liberian refugees, the structures and facilities have been badly damaged for lack of maintenance. Some of the buildings are used by a nursery and primary school and a church. One of the refugees who spoke with VL said that the community has resolved to convert the school to a nursing school. According to him; “any moment from now, the community will chase us out of this place.”
A signboard of Jafad School of Nursing and College of Health Sciences is mounted at the school gate. Besides the public school occupying part of the land, the buildings meant for the former TTC, are decaying and the gate was under lock and key.
Speaking on the issue of teacher education,,Professor Peter Okebukola who was Head of Science in a teachers’ college in the early 1970s, recalled with nostalgia the excellent quality of Grade II teachers.
“Grade II teachers were noted for their professionalism, deep knowledge of the content of their teaching subjects, impressive pedagogic skills, good work ethics, efficiency, commitment to the teaching profession and were hardly known to aid and abet examination malpractice and engage in immoral acts with their students,” he said.
According to him, graduates from teachers’ colleges formed a good base for building quality teachers at higher levels of NCE and degree. He lamented that it was such a pain that the institutions were closed down in response to the national policy which made the NCE the minimum qualification for teaching.
Okebukola who is also the Pro-Chancellor of Crawford University said that he is rather indifferent about getting the TTCs back for two reasons.
“There is no guarantee we will be able to run them as was done in the past given the rather watery state of delivery of our education system. We may end up producing half-baked Grade II holders relative to what we had in the past.
“Second, it will be an example of another of our numerous policy reversals and flip-flops. If we have settled for NCE as minimum qualification, let us produce quality NCE in the same mold as the Grade 2 teachers of old in terms of knowledge, skills and positive attitude.”
According to him, many of the NCE graduates of today are worse than Grade 2 teachers of old. He suggested that the sector focus on how to significantly improve the quality of production of NCE holders rather than take one step backward to return to Grade 2.
“Those clamouring for the return of the TTCs are nostalgic about the quality of teachers the TTcs produced in contrast to the wishy-washy products from many of our NCE institutions. They are right but we must move on and take steps to strengthen our colleges of education so they can produce NCE graduates we all can be proud of,” he said.
Speaking in the same vein, Dr. Shina Akintolure of the Dept. of Science and Technology Education, Faculty of Education, Lagos State University, feels that primary education has been taken care of even though TTCs have been abandoned. Thus, there will be no need for their reintroduction courtesy of the current National Council on Colleges of Education curriculum.
He said: “I would not say it was scrapped, because there was no decree or pronouncement to stop them, but they gradually went into extinction. Government stopped funding and recognising their certificate. Before now, they were the ones employed to teach in primary schools, because of lack of funds they closed down just like technical colleges.
“Nevertheless, at present, every college of education in Nigeria has a department of primary education studies. Then about 10 years ago, the government made it compulsory for the primary education departments to also have early childhood education.
“In fact, every college of education has a school of primary and early childhood education studies, it is bigger than a department, and each half is then a department.
Under each, there are different courses; primary education English, Primary education social studies, mathematics, different combinations. These people have been equipped to teach primary schools. They have NCE but they are trained to teach in primary schools, so it is not that they are over-qualified.
“Seventy per cent of the universities in Nigeria, in their faculties of education, have first degree, master’s and Ph.D programmes in early childhood. That means they are producing people who would teach those who are to teach children in primary school. That is the way it is now.
“There are also some states that have established colleges of education for primary education alone, for instance, Lagos, which was formerly Lagos State College of Primary Education, now Michael Otedola College of Primary Education. So far, there are roughly nine states that have a separate college for training teachers to teach in primary schools.”
On his part, Dr. Shina Akintolure of the Department of Science and Technology Education, Faculty of Education, Lagos State University, however feels that primary education has been taken care of even though teacher training colleges have been abandoned.
Thus, there will be no need to reintroduce teacher training colleges courtesy of the current National Council on Colleges of Education, NCC, curriculum.”
TTCs should be re-introduced:
For Mr. Sola Okuneye, an educationist with over 30 years experience in the education sector, for Nigeria to get it right, there is need to bring back the TTCs. “We used to have Grades III, II and I teachers but they were phased out and NCE was made the lowest qualification to teach in primary school as part of the National Policy on Education. Now, if you want me to teach at the primary school level, are you training me to be at that level? Most of the NCE teachers cannot cope in the primary school because the curriculum of NCE is quite high.
“If we must make NCE the minimum qualification, then, we have to adjust the curriculum. The curriculum is not tailored towards the primary school level so the NCE holders can only go to the secondary school to teach. Most of the colleges of education have their curriculum not on primary education but on secondary education and that is where the problem is.
“So, if you want me to teach in the primary school, are you training me to teach at that level?” he asked.
Speaking on the issue, Dean, School of Education, Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education, Ijanikin, Dr. Deborah Dele-Giwa, said scrapping of TTCs was necessary since it was a long process to acquiring knowledge of teaching.
She, however, opined that if it was to be resuscitated, government has to give it the standing and recognition it deserves.
“For TTCs to be resuscitated, the initiative done in 1977 where people completed primary education and went for training in teachers’ training institutions for a period of five years. After completion of the training, they don’t just become certificate holders; but Grade Two certificate holders. That was good. So, if Nigeria can go back to that, it entails that we mean business and we are now being serious. But if you want somebody to finish school certificate, and then go for Grade II; from Grade II to NCE. What that means is going through a long journey. And no parent would want his child to do that, when a lot of people are coming in from a short-cut.
“That won’t work. It will only work if we can design some secondary schools, which we had before. The only thing is that they were scrapped. We have those schools, and government should go back to them. For instance, from primary school, you would move in to that school. And from JSS-1, you will be taught as a teacher.
When you come out, you are a certified WAEC candidate passing WAEC and Grade II exams. This process makes them solid teachers.”
On NCE graduates refusal to teach in primary schools?
The reason for NCE graduates refusal to teach in primary schools is due to the recognition the society gives to the certificate. If there is no recognition on the certificate, how do you go there? What we are discussing now goes for B.Sc. And HND graduates. We all know that HND graduates can deliver. But they are not graduates as it were. So, why do I have the same entry qualification and go for something less. That is where we are now. For instance, if I have B.Sc. In Electrical Engineering and I can not do anything. And I have HND in Electrical and I can do so much but am not the manager. Why should I go for a lower job? I think government should recognise everyone based on performance. And they also should give NCE certificate the importance it deserve.
If we are not careful, National Certificate of Education is going to face the same situation as TCT. The government have to recognise what they have. For example, If you go for NCE, and you are supposed to teach in the primary school, yet, you don’t employ them. What are you saying?