By Adesina Wahab
Former Minister of Education, Prof. (Mrs) Ruquayyat Ahmed Rufai, has said as long as teaching is seen as a job for the dregs of the society, or a last resort for job seekers, the profession will continue to be dominated by unqualified persons in the country.
She stated this in Lagos while delivering the 2019 Faculty of Education Annual Lecture at the Lagos State University, LASU, Lagos.
Rufai, who noted that though the drastic steps that must be taken would cause some inconveniences, they must be taken to prevent future calamities in the sector. The former minister said the drastic steps should start from the admission of students to study education courses.
“When it is people with the lowest of marks in JAMB’s UTME that are admitted to study education courses, or people who see studying education or working as teachers as the last resort, what are you going to get? The cutoff points for education courses should be raised to attract brilliant students.
“Also, training of teachers should be given priority attention. There should be special scholarship for those being trained as teachers, especially the females. Nobody who is not a trained teacher should be allowed to be in charge of the class. They can serve as assistants to trained teachers and understudy them before they go for training.
“The period of teaching practice should be extended to one year for the teacher-to-be to garner enough classroom experiences before being employed as a teacher. There should be stringent screening of applicants who want to become teachers. Teaching should not be a last resort for job seekers, that is why we have many unhappy teachers whose productivity is very poor,” she opined.
Rufai called on agencies such as the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria, the Universal Basic Education Commission and the National Teachers Institute to brace up to the challenges facing the sector.
She advocated that unqualified teachers in the system should be redeployed to other sectors and give room for qualified ones to be appropriately and adequately motivated.
In his remarks, the Dean, Faculty of Eduction, LASU, Prof. Ambrose Akinkuotu, said the theme of the lecture: Teachers’ preparation for Nigerian schools: Adeqaucy, effectiveness and impact, was chosen to help proffer solutions to the dwindling fortunes of the sector. He urged the authorities to accord the necessary priority to education, as it is vital to the development of the country.
The VC of LASU, Prof. Olanrewaju Fagbohun, represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academic, Prof. Olumuyiwa Noah, commended the faculty for the great impact being made in the area of training of teachers.
Lagos State Deputy Governor, Mr Obafemi Hamzat, represented by Mr Shamsudeen Allison, promised that the state government would continue to support the laudable efforts of LASU.