From Mohammed Ibrahim, Kaduna
Former Executive Secretary of National Universities Commission (NUC) Prof. Peter Okebukola, has described poorly trained teachers as suicide bombers who would blow up the Nigerian economy and the values of the society with severe negative impact to the national transformation.
Okebukola who made this assertion in Kaduna at the 4th National Teachers Summit holding at the institution with the theme “Open and Distance Education: A catalyst for production of quality teachers and the transformation of Nigeria”, however, said the National Teachers Institute (NTI) is the solution to that menace.
Presenting the lead paper at the occasion, Okebukola said such teachers will worsen the deplorable state of graduates in the system, social vices such as examination malpractices and cultism will worsen.
He however applauded the role the NTI is playing in quality teacher training through Open Distance Learning (ODL) programmes that is churning out quality professional teachers.
He identified five inhibitors to the production of quality teachers in Nigeria which he said include quality of students input to the process which is largely weak; low exposure of teacher trainees to adequate number of courses in their teaching subjects; poor attention to teaching practice which he said are conducted in sloppy manner with minimal supervision; the preponderance of sandwich programmes which he explained are mounted mainly to make money in most institutions; and poor motivation of teacher trainees without inner drive graduate to a profession with low societal esteem.
To speed up the process through open and distance education, the former NUC boss identified greater emphasis on content knowledge, capacity building in information technology (IT), literacy for all teachers in open and distance learning, incentives for the distant learners and thoroughness of teaching practice.
Others are quality distance education course materials, robust student support services, training in core values for a greater Nigerian society and adoption of mixed mode.
While urging NTI to tighten its admission process to improve on its record, he applauded the impressive record of preparing teachers using the mixed mode.
He also applauded the rich content of NTI’s training manuals and extolled the leadership of the present boss of NTI Dr. Aminu Ladan Sharehu, who he said since assuming office “has transformed the governance, delivery system and public image” of the institution. “The institution is on course to carving a niche for itself in ODL delivery of teacher education. I envision that in 20 years, if current efforts are sustained and significantly improved upon, a graduate of NTI will command the same esteem as a Harvard graduate in Education” he asserted Speaking earlier, the Chairman, Governing Council of NTI, Alhaji Ali Sa’ad Birnin Kudu, said the institution has filled the void by illiteracy in the country.
He said NTI has improved the quality of teacher training and delivery across board through various professional courses through long distance learning.
Also speaking Minister of State for Education, Prof. Viola Onwuliri represented by Dr. Junaid Muhammed, said education holds the key to the socio-economic development of the country.
She stressed that in 1960 when the country gained independence, access to education was limited due to insufficient educational institutions hence the monopoly by few.
Distance learning, she said, has come to the aid of those who could not have access to conventional institutions of learning with NTI bridging the major gaps across the nation and beyond.
Kaduna State Governor, Dr. Muhktar Ramalan Yero, represented by the State Commissioner for Education, Alhaji Ibrahim Ali, said the NTI has taken the lead in producing sound teachers with the state of the art facilities that provide conducive learning environment.
He said Distance Learning as being provided by the institution, is fast becoming a catalyst for quality education he added.
In his welcome address, the DG and CEO of NTI, Dr. Aminu Ladan Sharehu, commended the efforts of his predecessors on whose good works he is building on.
He stressed that the management of the institution under his leadership is poised to take NTI to an enviable height to compete with
any such institution anywhere in the world.
Sixty papers were presented by various scholars at the two day event.
Prominent personalities who were teachers of repute were conferred with the Institutes’ highest Honorary Fellowship Award FNTI.
Also the National Open University of Nigeria NOUN received MERIT AWARD of the Institute while about 56,000 teachers in various courses were presented for graduation.