The recent release of the teachers’ competency tests results of teachers in Kaduna State has caused uproar from different angles. Some people think it’s a fraudulent act from the government to carry out a mass retrenchment while some see it as a way forward in ensuring the quality of teachers employed to teach thousands of children is not compromised by all standards.
For those who are not aware, primary school teachers were asked to answer questions meant for basic 4 students and over 21,000 out the 33,000 teachers scored less than 75% in the test. It is indeed a state of emergency in the education sector of Kaduna State.
It is appalling to listen to a top official of the Nigerian Union of Teachers propose an “educational summit” instead of retrenching the teachers. This is not to say training and retraining the teachers is out of place but addressing newsmen on the 4th of November, 2017, the Kaduna State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) boss stated that “the state initially began training of the teachers that failed the competency test but discovered that no amount of training would improve them”.
Towards achieving SDG 4
Looking carefully at some of the targets of the fourth Sustainable Development Goal – Quality Education, it can be seen that quality primary and secondary education and increasing the supply of qualified teachers are included. Specifically, the website of the United nations Development Programme has the first and last targets of the 4th SDG to be “By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and Goal-4 effective learning outcomes” and “By 2030, substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers, including through international cooperation for teacher training in developing countries, especially least developed countries and small island developing states”.
In Nigeria, the place of professionally trained and qualified teachers have been taken by unqualified and unprofessional persons in most primary and secondary schools. This is as a result of the level of priority given to the education sector in the country. Schools have become dumping grounds for unemployed graduates and youth corps members. Recall that the minimum standard for any university graduate to serve as a teacher is to possess at least a B. Ed qualification. Furthermore, many of those with these qualifications do not want to teach and would rather work with other corporate organizations due to the unattractive provisions made for teachers.
Going the extra mile in ensuring that students get the best people to teach them is not out of place as no sensible parent would keep their children in schools where their teachers cannot answer questions meant for pupils in basic classes. More so the conditions and remunerations of teachers need to critically looked at.
The appropriate bodies in charge of recruiting teachers must ensure that strict measures are applied during the recruitment exercise to enable the best candidates get the jobs. The transfer of knowledge is not something to be joked with. Recruitment has to be transparent and accountable. The labour congress, teachers’ union and the regulatory body in charge of the teaching profession should know what battles to pick and do so with the genuine interest of the teachers and pupils at heart as achieving quality education lies a lot on the use of the services of highly qualified teachers.