‘Only registered teachers will be allowed in schools from next year’

It’s countdown to the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN) deadline of December 31st 2019 for qualified teachers to register with the body and its registrar, Prof. Segun Ajiboye has been talking tough. FRANK IKPEFAN reports.

The deadline for teachers to register with the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN) is barely three months away. How many teachers have registered with the agency?

The decision to give that deadline is not TRCN’s decision. Actually, it was a decision by the National Council on Education (NCE), backed up by the Federal Government, that anybody who wants to be a teacher in our schools both public and private must be qualified, registered and licensed by the TRCN. As at now, TRCN has registered over two million two hundred teachers that are qualified. But we know that this figure cannot capture even what we have. We have a larger number- more than four million teachers in our school system and a large number of these people have not yet registered with TRCN, which is why the National Council on Education (NCE) gave that deadline of December 31st, 2019. We are close to the deadline now; we did the first Professional Qualifying Examination in May; we are planning to have about two other. The next one is going to come up this month (October) and we will have the last one before the deadline – November. The October one will hold between the 11th and 12th all over the country. We have so many people who have registered for the examination. You will recollect that before you now get registered as a teacher, you must pass the Professional Qualifying Exam. We have over 60, 000 candidates who have applied to write the examination nationwide. This figure is very huge because before now, the highest we ever got was over 32, 000. You know the Nigerian mentality of waiting till the last moment before doing the needful.

What is the level of compliance by teachers from private schools?

83 percent of those that we have registered are actually from public schools. That means the larger number of teachers in private schools have not registered with the TRCN and this is where the problem lies. That is why we have assured Nigerians that we will begin the enforcement with private schools in January next year. The minister of education is backing up TRCN to make sure that we carry out this monitoring in all states of the federation so that we will be able to collect the data of qualified and non-qualified teachers from all the states.

Is there a gap in the teaching profession in the country? Like how many teachers do you think we require in our public schools system?

Actually we have a challenge and the challenge is that even when we have qualified teachers who are not yet employed, we have those who are not qualified teaching in our schools. Aside that, there are shortages all over the country. Generally in Sub-Sahara Africa, we have shortage of teachers of over seven million and you will agree with me that Nigeria will carry the largest number. That is why when you go to some states there are few teachers. Some states have not employed teachers for the past ten years. That’s a big challenge. There are some schools with just about four teachers. We have a big gap and what the Federal Ministry of Education has been saying is that you cannot have qualified teachers who are not employed and have unqualified people still being retained in the system. From next year, we are going to make sure that all those that are not qualified actually find something else to do, whereas, those that are qualified and are not yet given jobs will be able to get jobs.

Is there a data for the number of unqualified teachers in the country?

We have gotten for six states – both qualified and unqualified, across public and private schools. We selected one state each from each geo-political zone:  Northcentral – Nasarawa, Northeast – Bauchi, Northwest – Jigawa, Southeast – Ebonyi, Southsouth – Cross River and Southwest – Ogun state. To get the general one, we will need to do a survey all over the country. And we reached out to The Minister of Education is trying to give support to TRCN to make sure that we conduct this survey across the country.

Considering the number of teachers yet to register, is there any hope or plan for an extension?

It is because of that consideration that we have introduced the November diet of the Professional Qualifying Examination. It is for those who cannot meet the October dates and those who will take the October examination and may not likely pass. It will be an opportunity to re-enrol. We are going to wait for the result of October examination before we close the portal for the November examination.

Some teachers in our schools, especially private schools seem not to have the required qualification. You have a graduate of engineering or chemistry teaching in schools. Can they register with TRCN?

No. That’s why they should go and find something else to do. That is why we want to do that enforcement. Can you post a teacher to the hospital? Can you post a teacher to the law court? It is not possible. Why is it that it is only the teaching profession that we will just say anybody? That is why we must weed out these quacks. The target is to remove quackery from the teaching profession and ensure that only those who are qualified and registered are retained in the system. You can only register with TRCN if you are qualified and that’s why majority of them are not coming for registration – they are not qualified ab initio.

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