To establish Adult Literacy Scheme to cater for over 50m Nigerians in 2020
–As over 77,000 teachers write Professional Qualifying Examination
By Joseph Erunke
ABUJA–THE federal government has said its December 31,2019 deadline to weed the nation’s classrooms of unqualified teachers remains sacrosanct.
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The government said at the end of the deadline which comes into effect in three weeks time,teachers without the requisite teaching qualifications will be disengaged from services. It,however,did not give the number of teachers that would be affected.
Also,teachers without the licence of the
Teachers Registration Council,TRCN,will not be henceforth employed in any teachers’ recruitment exercises embarked upon by the government.
The government emphasised this as over 77,000 teachers sat for Professional Qualifying Examination, across the country, Saturday,in a desperate bid to scale the hurdle associated with not possessing requisite qualification.
The Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Education, Arc. Sonny Echono,speaking to newsmen shortly after monitoring the examination along side the Registrar of Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria,TRCN,Prof. Josiah Ajiboye,insisted that the December 31,2019 deadline to disengage unqualified teachers in country remained sacrosanct.
He,however, said the disengaged teachers would have opportunities of still sitting for the examination with a view to getting certification and present themselves for re-engagement as according to him,the exercise would be a continuous one.
Echono also used the opportunity to disclosed that government had put arrangement in place to establish what he called “Adult Literacy Scheme”, in order to cater for the educational need over 50 million Nigerians he said, missed opportunities to be educated.
Echono,who disclosed that over 77,000 teachers registered to participate in the examination that took place ,Saturday, expressed happiness that the figure was ahead of the last October exercise which he said,stood at 69,000.
He said:”We are pleased that we are here and the number today is increasing. For this examination,we are having over 77,000 and if you recall,the last time we had 69,000, which we had thought was a huge figure. Now,we have gone beyond that!
“The examination will continue, it is not the final examination, it is just that it is the final examination before the deadline.
“So after this,we are going to be moving those who are not qualified out of the classroom, they have a second or other chances of going to improve themselves.
“And when they go and improve themselves,acquire additional knowledge and qualification, they can come back again and do this examination and once they are certified, they can now return back to the classroom, so it’s not as if it is the end of their lives. Those who are still interested in the teaching profession need to do the needful.
“Others may move to other sectors of the economy and find employment or acquire other skills. But basically, we are drawing the line at this point that all those who are not qualified to be teachers will leave our classroom.”
He said the professional qualifying examination has achieved its aim “beyond our expectations.”
Arc. Echono spoke further:”We are looking at the very fundamental-the foundation of education in this country and for us to be able to do that, the teacher is at the centre of it. You must have committed qualified teachers to teach. After that, you also ensure that the teaching environment is right. So we need better classroom, we need materials for teachers to use,we need environment under which the children can learn.”
According to him,”we have done a lot in terms of our curriculum to ensure that we continually enhance the curriculum to make it more responsible for the need of tomorrow and the challenges that we envisage for the future because we are producing these children to meet tomorrow’s challenges and not today’s challenges.”
“We are now also shifting to the welfare of teachers. It is on one side to talk about professionalising the profession, you also need to ensure that we are attracting the best brains and that we are able to retain them because as long as pay lip service to the welfare of teachers, we are going to see them migrate to other greener pastures and then you are going to be left with those who do not have knowledge themselves and therefore cannot impact that knowledge to the children that will be our competitive tools in the future. So it’s a circle and we must break that vicious circle of treating teachers the way we do now,” he added.
He sais he was” glad that Mr President is leading this and that part of the Local Government Autonomy Bill is also directed at ensuring that teachers get paid at when they can and when they should.”
“We are pushing that they should also have first-line charge so they will be paid the same way our legislators are paid,the same way our judicial officers are paid and they are paid as and when due,” he said,adding:”We are looking at special allowances to encourage teachers in areas of sciences and those who are going to be operating in rural communities. We want to be able to give them some incentives in addition to additional responsibilities.”
On the establishment of the Adult Literacy Scheme, he said:”We are going to be rolling out a mass adult literacy programme next because we discover that over 50 million of our people missed out on the first opportunity to get education.”
“We don’t need to build new schools by wasting money on facilities. We can use existing facilities all across the country and develop programmes either in the evenings or at weekends. That will allow adults to do their day work and earn a living to keep their families,” he stressed.
The Permanent Secretary spoke further:”The same teachers will now have additional work and additional income by teaching them the curricula that we have already redeveloped for so many areas. We even have some quick- bridge ones that we are already pilot-testing in Borno for those who unfortunately due to insurgency, had dropped out of schools and we want them to catch up quicker than the usual routine that we have in our schools.
“So,that curriculum once we finish it,we are also going to apply it and we will develop the Mass Literacy Scheme for all those who missed out the opportunities.
“There is a special focus on the girl child and we have 11 focus states where we will be intervening in this area. The World Bank is also doing some in some states. So we have a lot of efforts,coalescing around ensuring that the negative figures that we have in terms of access to education, in terms of the quality of learning and the learning experience of our children will be redress in the shortest possible time.”
He explained that the benefits of the Professional Qualifying Examination were that, “It qualifies you as a teacher and enables you to benefit from what we called Continuous Professional Development, because it is not enough to just have a qualification.”
“The world is changing and the tools for impacting knowledge are changing. How teaching takes place,in today’s world, the teacher is more of a facilitator than an all-knowing person sitting in front of the children because as you are talking to those kids,they can google it,they can get all sort of information from the internet.
“You have to understand that and also incorporate that into your teaching. A lot of things these days are automated-we have open learning resources, we have e-learning and digital literacy is the main focus and we must liverage on technology to bring this about,” he further said.
On his part,the Registrar of TRCN, Prof. Josiah Ajiboye,explained that there was a huge upsurge in the enrollment of the professional qualifying examination by the nation’s teachers.
“For this examination, we have 77,000 candidates who have registered across the country. In October, we had over 69,000 but the number keeps on coming and keeps on growing. We expect over 77,000 candidates to write the examination across the country,” he said.
He disclosed that Lagos State top the states with the highest number of candidates that registered and participated in the examination.
Hear him:”Lagos State actually has the largest number of candidates for this examination, they have over 8,000 and I can report that the examination is going on very smoothly.”
He was expressed joy that the examination went well in Ibadan,Oyo State “that used to be our crisis point.”
“The only area where we have a challenge is Ekiti State and it is due to the technical issues at the CBT centre there.
“The examination there will be rescheduled for the candidates to have it either by next weekend or thereabout. That is the only place we have a challenge presently,” he said.