Educators frequently share that teaching is the most difficult job that anyone can have—and the most rewarding. If so then why is teaching not a profession in Nigeria? Read here to know.
Teaching is one of the noblest and oldest professions in the world. In Nigeria, education occupies a gorgeous position in the history of the country.
In the past, during the days of British colonial rule and afterward, teachers were accorded great respect in the society.
In fact, the importance of the teaching profession cannot be overestimated because teachers help to transmit education to the future generation.
But over the years, the position of teachers has been relegated to the background, forgetting the fact that teachers are the educators of today and tomorrow’s ministers, lawmakers, presidents, and governors. They help to nurture the character and sagacity of today’s successful bankers and people in business. Teachers are the quintessential unsung heroes.
With the rise of other professions whose practitioners were built by educators, the honor accorded teachers went down and, thus, affect teachers commitments to their duty.
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Decline in the status.
The declining status of the teaching profession and teachers in the country has become a thing of concern because the situation is also reflecting in the quality of students produced at all education levels.
The dissatisfaction is not unrelated to the illegal remuneration of teachers, compared to other professionals.
Taking teaching as a profession has become a last resort in Nigeria whereas, elsewhere, education is given all the respect it deserves. Technically, teachers mold the future of a nation. Why should a government not take the people responsible for the quality of its near and far future seriously?
Opinion of specialists.
A professor of education leadership, University of Abuja, Salihu Yusufu Igawa, says teaching is an unsung profession in Nigeria.
A teacher makes a difference in all our lives, educating kids and preparing them to become executives, doctors, and engineers.
Teaching should be recognized as one of the most challenging and respected career choices, vital to the social, cultural and economic health of nations.
Igawa lamented that teaching is not recognized as a profession in Nigeria but as a public service.
According to him, education should not consist of instructions to students who sit in the row at desks, obediently listening and copying what they hear. Rather, teaching should offer children delicious, satisfying and exceptional learning experiences.
The National Policy on Education is clear on the fact that no education system can rise above the level of its teachers.
The Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Education, Dr. Macjohn Nwaobiala, recently in Abuja, said that teacher qualities, as well as the quality of instruction, have been on the decline, contributing significantly to the poor performance of students in examinations nationwide.
To arrest the decline government's focus on tackling the crisis in teaching and teachers education with particular attention on the output of the students in schools as well as the relevance of teachers’ education.
The Executive Secretary of the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE) Professor Muhammad I. Junaid in an interview with Daily Trust said the commission had noticed a disconnect between the training program of teachers and the curriculum that they are supposed to deliver after practice which invariably affects the output of the teachers.
Junaid said in addressing the issue of relevance and quality, the commission in 2007 harmonized the NCE minimum standards with the new primary education curriculum introduced by the Nigeria Research and Education Development Council (NREDC).
However, that move seems not to have done much to improve quality as more dust keeps rising.
Apart from poor remuneration, other factors contribute to the parlous state of education in the country.
Micheal Sule, a proprietor of a private school in Abuja, said the quality of teachers is on the decline due to inadequate supervision by employers.
In private schools, they don’t employ qualified teachers, but with proper guidance, they can perform well while in the public schools they use NCE holders and educationists, but they are not performing maximally due to lack of supervision.
He pointed out that most teachers have a poor training background and learning, so they exhibit those things when they come to class.
He said that parents also contribute to the decline in quality of education, adding that if they fail, the efforts of the teachers will not be maximally felt.
For Musa Mato, a civil engineer, teaching is a very noble thing to do but not in a country like Nigeria where it has been relegated to the background due to poor remuneration and also because of the way the society cast aspersion on teachers.
For some people, the moment you say you are a teacher, they see you as a poor man, that is how bad it is, and I can’t imagine myself being a teacher.
Janet Obialor, a banker, said: “The quality will remain poor because most teachers are teaching because of the circumstance they found themselves in.”
She said as a corps member; she was asked to show in her place of primary assignment even though she didn’t want to. The schools’ teachers on seeing corners posted to their schools, left the classroom for the corners which do not have the training to teach. So we just used our initiatives and what they told us to show.
Apart from the poor quality of teachers, the teachers’ attitude to work has also not helped matters. Many teachers are recruited by the federal and state governments, and they have the qualification, but they just relax and do what they like because of its government work.
Most of them come late because they have to stay back to prepare snacks that they will sell to pupils and they eventually come, seat under the tree to discuss without entering the classroom.
According to her, the pupils only get a good teaching attention when examinations are approaching and where they needed to cover most of the syllabus. Such fire brigade approach cannot help students, especially the slow learners.
How to attract more hands into the profession?
If you want to attract best brains to teaching, there must be incentives that will come from employers of teachers. If you put carrots into teaching, then you will see more people coming into teaching because of those incentives, so I think states can go a long way in that direction.
However, various measures have been suggested on how to improve the professional image of teachers, some of which include improved salary, soft loans by the government and professionalization of teaching.
Ingawa said there is a need for the federal government to establish teacher education council with the mandate of regulating on all matters relating to teacher training.
He said that teacher training institutes had lost the capacity to supervise, assess and mentor successfully the teaching practice segment of the pre-service teachers.
While urging the teachers to come together for the betterment of the profession, he said this objective can be achieved through the formation of an active federating union for teachers.