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Published On: Thu, Mar 19th, 2020

A welcome exercise

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The verification of certificates of teachers in public and private schools began yesterday almost nationwide, and will end March 17. The Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN) that is doing the verification said Sunday that “only qualified, registered and licensed” teachers would be allowed into the classroom.

TRCN’s registrar, Prof. Josiah Ajiboye, said for that purpose, “a crack team” had been raised. He said, however, that because of the Boko Haram reign of terror in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, those three states would carry out the exercise on a later date. According to him, the searchlight was on private schools reportedly hiring teachers that did not have the requisite certification.

“As the December 31, 2019 deadline given by the National Council on Education for anybody who wants to practise as a teacher in the country to get qualified, registered and licensed by TRCN has passed, the regulatory authority is embarking on a verification of compliance in all the states of the federation and FCT,” read the statement Ajiboye sent out Sunday.

“The TRCN team, in each state, will be led by a professor of Education or a provost of a College of Education. The first leg of the exercise will start on March 9 and end on March 17. However, this exercise will be continuous as TRCN has created a Compliance and Enforcement Unit at its head office for routine monitoring. Prior to the commencement of the monitoring, a technical team was set up by TRCN and a meeting was held with all the state coordinators where issues of logistics were discussed and harmonised.”

Ajiboye said it was not right for some states to make TRCN certificate an optional requirement for recruiting teachers. “TRCN takes exception to some states making TRCN certificate optional in their recruitment of teachers. This practice must stop because it is mandatory for anyone who wants to profit from the job of a teacher to be registered with the regulatory authority. It is, therefore, considered absurd for any state to say the TRCN certificate is an added advantage, whereas that is supposed to be the number one criterion. This is the global best practice. There is no serious nation that allows just anybody into its classrooms to teach their children. There must be proof of professional certification to practise as a teacher.”

We welcome this TRCN move to make teaching truly professional. Just like all other professions in the country, teaching suffers from deep rooted quackery. Anything that will be done to sanitize it is highly welcome. The TRCN initiative vindicates Kaduna State government’s decision two years ago to take out some 3000 unqualified teachers from the school system. It was, however, opposed by the teachers’ union, supported by the Nigeria Labour Congress. Today, the same agency called for by teachers is doing exactly what the Kaduna government did.

However, there is a sticky point. TRCN is doing the verification at a time when Nigeria unarguably has a plus 200,000 shortage of qualified teachers in primary and secondary schools. The exercise is sure to reveal a much wider gap. So we believe the starting point for making teaching truly professional is to produce more qualified and competent teachers. The right number will certainly slam the door against quacks.

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