• Saturday, July 13, 2024
businessday logo


Overworked, poorly-equipped teachers drown in overcrowded classrooms

Overworked, poorly-equipped teachers drown in overcrowded classrooms

Poorly-equipped teachers are drowning in overcrowded classrooms in Nigeria, leading to poor educational output, experts have said.

Poor infrastructure, teacher shortage, and inadequate funding are also among many issues bedevilling Nigeria’s education system

Boye Ogundele, an educationist, described the teacher-student ratio in Nigeria as disturbing.

“The case is alarming because the government is not serious with infrastructure again. They don’t build or establish new primary and/or schools again nor do they maintain the existing ones.”

The Basic Education Commission in 2018 revealed that the pupil-teacher ratios in Nigeria exceeded 80 pupils per teacher. This contrasts with UNESCO’s recommended ratio of 35 pupils to one teacher.

Both United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) maintain that the pupil-teacher ratio provides a good headcount benchmark for quality education.

Ogundele said that Nigerian teachers are made to handle over 100 students in a class and that even some private schools are also guilty of inappropriate teacher-student ratio per class.

Similarly, Abiola Omosebi, a teacher, said the situation is worrisome because in many schools there are about 55 to one teacher minimum, and 116 to 120 students per teacher, especially in public schools.

Read also: How overcrowded classrooms hamper effective learning in FCT’s public schools

Omosebi said that the consequences of such overcrowding are significant, such that teachers focus mostly on high-performing students.

Christian Ibekwe, a professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, attributed the overcrowded classrooms in public schools partly to the costly rate of private schools.

“The private schools are not easily within reach of at least 50 percent of the population at any given point in time. So, we do not have enough teachers because the government does not provide funds to employ the more readily available hands,” he said.

However, Friday Erhabor, director of media and strategies at Marklenez Limited, said beyond the hike by private schools, the government is not doing enough in terms of human capital development.

“Whether there is a hike in private schools or not, it is the responsibility of the government to ensure a balance in teachers-students ratio through adequate investment in human resources in the education sector,” he said.

Erhabor said that there are still a lot of teachers out there that are not employed and that the least the government can do is to engage more teachers to fill the gap.

Despite the global call for quality education, there has been a deviation in the outcome of the Nigerian education system from societal expectations, which raises concerns about the quality of education in the country.

Kingsley Moghalu, president of the Institute for Governance and Economic Transformation, said inadequate financing is one of the major challenges the sector faces.

“The World Bank and UNESCO have disclosed that a minimum of 20 percent of teachers in public basic education institutions in Nigeria lack the necessary qualifications,” he said.

Moghalu also pointed out that the quality of Nigeria’s education system suffers due to poor infrastructure.

“The classroom environment should encourage active participation, inquiry-based learning, and critical reflection while also fostering student engagement through cooperative learning structures, Socratic questioning techniques, and experiential activities.”