• Saturday, February 24, 2024
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Mass 2015 WASSCE failure raises concerns over huge teacher deficit

WAEC Nigeria sees innovation adoption as strategic to improve educational assessment

Nigeria’s learning crisis which stems mainly from a mounting deficit in the number and quality of teachers is growing progressively worse and promises to severely undermine the country’s productive capacity, going forward, experts say.

This is further illustrated by the results of the 2015 May/June West African School Certificate Exams (WASCE) which saw 62 per cent of candidates failing to obtain credit pass in five subjects including  English and Mathematics, the core literacy and numeracy subjects.

The alarm sounds even louder, when similar abject failures in the same exam in the last three years are recalled .

While reasons such as lackadaisical attitude of students to study and growing societal aversion to learning have been adduced as causal factors for this perennial dismal performance in public examinations, experts and global bodies on education and learning are concerned that Nigeria’s beleaguered education sector is facing a huge burden of teacher shortage in both quantity and quality.

Going by national estimates revealed in 2012 by the National Commission for Colleges of Education, the country requires up to 1.3 million teachers to bridge the gap in the number of teachers required at the primary education level.

Poor working conditions in the country’s education sector are reported to have made the teaching profession unattractive  to high flyers, and a last resort  for those who fail to find fortune in other sectors.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) holds that “while the shortage of primary teachers is a concern in all regions of the world, the situation in sub-Saharan Africa is critical…One-third of countries in the region are suffering from teacher shortages.”

According to findings by UNESCO, “Sub-Saharan Africa alone represents close to one-half the global lower secondary education shortage (46%). It adds that the region will need an extra 1.6 million teachers by 2015, and 2.5 million by 2030.

For Nigeria to correct this teacher shortage, Chioma Osuji, the acting policy adviser to the Civil Society Action Coalition on Education For All, a non-governmental organisation believes that the country should engage 39,239 qualified teachers annually for Universal Basic Education (UBE) up to year 2020 and 80,364 for Adult and non-Formal Education.

Peter Okebukola, the former helmsman at the National Universities Commission (NUC) , who is currently a professor in the faculty of Science and Technology Education of the Lagos State University (LASU), says “the poor quality of teachers in the Nigerian school system is a major force steering education in the wrong direction.”

Okebukola strongly believes that “until our teachers are better trained and well motivated, all efforts to improve the quality of the education system will be severely compromised.”

He further laments that “in the quest to increase teacher quantity (in Nigeria), all manner of persons and all manner of part-time and sandwich programmes (mainly to generate income) are part of the current menu of teacher training.”

Okebukola blames the National Teachers Institute (NTI), the over 80 colleges of education and the several faculties of education in our universities for “unleashing the army of poorly-trained teachers on our educational system.”

With  the annual World Teachers Day coming up on October 5,  2015 and less than five months to the end of 2015 the initial deadline for the achievement of Education for All and Universal Primary Education,  teacher deficit and the consequent  learning crisis resulting, should be of utmost concern for governments.

Experts say the solution to this abnormal trend in the educational system lies in improving the quantity of teachers, “reformatting teacher education” and ensuring a “major curriculum overhaul”.

Nigeria’s teacher education system requires a process that selects qualitative entrants into the country’s teacher training institutions, contrary to the current anomaly of admitting candidates with low scores into colleges of education, experts say.

They add that as key agents in the creation of human capital, teachers should periodically go through re-certification to invigorate and update them  in their craft.

IKENNA OBI