The deadline for all practicing teachers in Nigeria to get relevant teaching qualifications and register with the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN)gets closer
It is no longer news that the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN) has declared its intention to enforce the December 31, 2019 deadline for all teachers in Nigeria to get the relevant qualification and register with it.
But the anxiety in the sector is on what becomes of the large number of “teachers” currently teaching in the various levels of Nigerian school system, without the requisite qualification or the TRCN registration.
The TRCN Act, makes it mandatory for any teacher in the Nursery, Primary, Secondary or any tertiary institution to be registered with TRCN, for he/she to continue his/her career.
Section 17(2) of the TRCN Act (1993) makes it clear that any individual teaching, using the identity of a teacher or earning the reward of a teacher without being registered is liable on conviction to a fine of N5000 or two-year jail term or both. The Act further stipulates that the employer of such unregistered teacher will face the same penalty.
Professor Josiah Ajiboye, the Registrar, TRCN is not quiet about the determination of the agency to enforce this as from January 1, 2020. During TRCN 2020 Budget defence at the National Assembly he said ‘quacks’ in the teaching profession in the country must go.
Ajiboye expressed optimism that the ongoing repositioning of the teaching profession will take teaching profession from normal scheme of service to a new level and will be able to give teachers their own specialized scheme of service whereby they will be motivated and able to enjoy the benefits of their services and ultimately be motivated to do better in the profession.
The Nigeria Union of Teacher (NUT) is also throwing its weight behind the moves by TRCN to wipe away non-professionalism in the teaching industry in Nigeria.
Mr. Emmanuel Hwande, the National Public Secretary, of NUT, expressed the willingness of the union to collaborate with TRCN on the 2020 deadline for unqualified and/or unregistered teachers to upgrade. He said that the ultimatum was necessary for ensuring that only qualified teachers were in schools in the country.
The Federal Ministry of Education also on June 7, 2019, sent a circular to all public schools across the country, giving December 31, 2019, as the deadline for unqualified teachers to quit the teaching profession.
The goal is to remove quackery in the teaching profession to ensure that only those with required competencies give the Nigerian child quality education.
Hwande said Nigeria needs quality teachers to deliver quality education and not the ‘cheaters’.
“If you are not a law graduate and called to Bar, you can never enter a courtroom; this should also apply to the teaching profession,” he said.
For the registration process, those who passed the qualifying tests will pay a registration fee for eventual registration as professional teachers. These fees are according to applicants’ academic qualifications, with an annual due expected to be paid to TRCN.
TRCN listed the advantages of the teachers registration exercise to include promotion of professionalism through accreditation; monitoring and supervision of teacher training programmes; mandatory continuing professional development and maintenance of discipline among teachers at all levels of the profession.
However, in spite of the sensitization exercise of TRCH over the years, some teachers claimed not to be aware of the December 31 deadline, and the TRCN’s resolve to remove quacks in the system from the teaching profession.
Some teachers who spoke with The Educational Tide said they are not aware of the deadline while some others questioned the rationale for deadline.
Mrs. Roseline Oyedele, a teacher in one of the schools in Lagos State, however, said she was not aware of the mandate and had not registered.
However, Hwande made it clear that at the expiration of the ultimatum, officials of the union and TRCN would go to public and private schools to enforce the order. He urged affected teachers to take the opportunity of the qualifying tests to do the needful before the deadline because according to him, once you are caught as an unqualified teacher, the law enforcement agencies will take it up.
Mr. Kayode Sutton, the Head, Public Affairs Unit, Lagos State Ministry of Education encouraged all teachers in the state to get registered as it is normal for one to identify with his or her professional body.
However, he noted that it is an individual thing which everyone in the profession in Lagos State should comply with except such a person is saying he or she is not a teacher.
While some of the affected teachers are taking the steps to perfect their qualifications and registration with TRCN some are just not concerned about the upgrade.
Mrs Martha Ibe, a teacher with a private school, said she has enrolled in a part time course at Enugu State College of Education (Technical) Enugu State College of Education (Technical), Lagos Campus to obtain a formal degree in Education which will enable her register.
But some teachers are expressing reservation on the continuous annual dues payable by registered teachers to TRCN.
Mr. Steve Omotara, a teacher, who confirmed he has registered with TRCN, is concerned about the annual dues. His worries are on how easy such exercise would be while hoping this would not be enmeshed in bureaucratic bottleneck. But, TRCN officials have allayed this fact, pointing out that the process is on-line and well streamlined to ease the registration and payment.
Likewise, a proprietress of a private school is more concerned about the likely consequences of the full implementation of the TRCN’s registration exercise. She expressed concerns that this might lead to more people being rendered jobless.
“Are they saying that all these graduates who could not find jobs out there are going to be flushed out of the school system? That to me is callous of the government,” she said.
But sources at TRCN said any serious teacher shouldn’t be affected by this as there have been more than enough time for such to upgrade and register as professional teachers in Nigeria. They alleged that some private school owners have lukewarm attitude to the registration exercise as they really do not want the teaching profession to be professionalized because of their selfish reasons.
“Many of these proprietors are not professional teachers and are using quacks who they pay peanuts. Professionalism will affect them as they won’t be able to pay peanuts again. That is why many of them never encourage their staff to get professional qualifications and get registered despite the fact that this exercise has been on for years,” an official said.
This assertion was also supported by NUT officials and some teachers in the public school system.
But some private school owners are quick to explain their efforts to get their teachers registered. A school owner in Lagos State said that her school is partnering with the Association for Formidable Education Development (AFED), a body concerned with the protection and development of low school paying institutions, in training her teachers who are not qualified.
AFED, as a body, is organizing trainings to prepare unqualified teachers in the schools of associate members to write required professional/ conversion examinations and help them to register with TRCN.
The teachers registration exercise in Nigeria became more pronounced in 2003, when the National Council on Education at its 50th session at Yenagoa, Bayelsa State fixed the year 2006 as deadline to unqualified teachers already in sector. A halt to the recruitment of unqualified teachers took effect from 2003.
However, in 2006, after a review the National Council on Education initiated the Special Teacher Upgrading Programme (STUP), to accelerate the upgrade the Teachers Grade Two Certificate holders to the Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE).
TRCN, in the last seven years, has rigourously raised awareness of this exercise while embarking on advocacy and capacity building programmes yearly across the country.
This has resulted in nearly one million teachers being registered by the Council.
However, given the propensity of many Nigerians to be lukewarm to enforcement and the last minute tendency, many ‘teachers’ are yet to either upgrade their teaching qualification or register.
Many are watching how this development will play out with the TRCN resolve to enforce the law this time around. Will Ajiboye and his team stand firm or shift? It is just a matter of few weeks.