Read below a sample of the thoughts readers of this column shared with me on last week’s column with the above title.
Thanks for the beautiful piece on Teacher Training Colleges which appeared in your usually interesting column of 5th December, 2015. While agreeing with you 100% that Teacher Colleges effectively served their purpose while they lasted, I am of the opinion that their successors, the Colleges of Education, must be made even more effective to serve the purpose of the current need of the Nigerian educational system, through purposeful leadership in the sector.
Many factors have conspired to bring the quality of education at all levels to their knees in Nigeria. These include, but not limited to, poor curriculum, inadequate infrastructure, extensive extreme poverty, chronic security challenges, poor incentives, remuneration and inadequate reward system, struggle for supremacy between degree and other certificates, societal value system, quality of governance, incoherent government policies, inadequate institutional framework, inadequate funding, etc.
While all the factors above have serious effects on the quality of our educational system, and hence need to be addressed urgently, I would like to suggest that the curriculum of Colleges of Education and the Faculties of Education must be urgently re-visited to produce the right standard of teachers/lecturers, if the free-fall in the quality of education in Nigeria must be halted.
Equally very important is the remuneration and the reward system. The quality of any educational system is only as good as the quality of its teachers. Those in the so-called professional courses can only be good relative to the knowledge/expertise of their teachers. Therefore, if a system encourages, by virtue of numeration and societal rating, all the “intelligent” candidates to read “Professional” courses, leaving only the “not-so-intelligent” to take a career in teaching, then the educational quality of that system will continue to suffer from free fall as we are experiencing in Nigeria today. This is because the “not-so-endowed” teachers/lecturers will continue to “clone” themselves, even in the so-called “intelligent professionals.
To drive home my point, please, consider this scenario: a C- class candidate (UTME score of 180) is admitted to read Biochemistry or Physics. Upon graduation, he is employed to teach at a higher Institution where he produces an A-class student who is admitted to read medicine or Engineering. That A-class student is actually equivalent to 70/100 X180 (reduced to UTME score of 126 equivalent). Subsequent generations of students taught by that A-class graduate and his/her products will depreciate by the same factor. This is exactly what is also happening at the different levels of Education where potential teachers are trained in Nigeria, where because of the poor remuneration and reward system for their graduates, only candidates with UTME Score of about 160/400 are admitted each year. No wonder some people have described tertiary institutions in Nigeria, as “higher institutions of lower learning”.
Hence my humble conclusion and suggestion are that, no matter the number of Education summits, curriculum review, policy realignment, infrastructural upgrade, teacher registrations, etc, the quality of Nigerian educational system (and indeed other sectors of the economy) will continue to nose-dive, until teachers from the foundation to the University levels, like other professionals (that are actually produced by the teachers) are accorded their right of place (and off course, right remuneration), as is the case in Finland, Germany and other developed countries.
Professor Sunday E. Atawodi, FAS, Biochemistry Department, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria
I'm proud to be one of those teachers you talked about. The quality of education and training I received at the college is what is helping me keep my head high even among my supposedly senior colleagues. I still keep and relish the marked manuscripts of my lesson plans for the two course teaching practice experience we did. It was thoughtful of you Farooq to have raised this now.
Mahmud Zukogi, Bayero University, Kano
I, being a teacher, concur with your opinion sir. The worrying condition of the already fallen standard of our teaching staff is alarming. The wasteful head count of primary pupils recently conducted in Kano has exposed the full extent of the collapse of the system. Education has been brought down to its knees in this part of the world. The teachers are no better than their confused pupils. The schools are dilapidated. The teachers have been frustrated by the meagre salary they earn. So they use every opportunity of wringing money from the students or their parents. The situation is so bad.
We therefore urge and plead the honourable minister to look at our primary education well. Professor has spoken well and suggested that the minister already has his hands full. Should these suggestions be accepted and adopted, we could come of age and compete with the already developed nations educationally. Thank you professor!
Muhd Mubarak Ibrahim
Thanks Dr. Farooq for such an observation. As a practicing teacher myself that went through all the channels of becoming a well-prepared teacher, we are in the same shoe. I passed through TC ll, NCE and BA.Ed. The thoughtless cancellation of Teachers' Training Colleges by the then government is surely one major factor that contributes to the rot of education in the land. May your write-up be the pointer for the present government to have a re-think. God bless, sir.