Productive Teaching in Nigeria 1: A Counter Argument to the Teachers Being the Bane

Teachers are often described by their private employers as not having the capability to be the professional teachers they are assumedly trained to be, and by their public employers as being incompetent, negligent and lazy (a lot of governors in Nigeria have described their teachers with these words and many other demeaning words). Although, there are obvious factors (in the private schools and the public schools) identified as the possible causes of the (alleged) inadequacies of the teachers; factors ranging from the gap between the abstractness of most parts of the curriculum taught to the teachers while under training for the teaching profession to the real situations existing in the schools the teachers are employed to practice the profession, and other factors like: unavailability and inadequacy of the needed resources, work overload, discouraging pay and rewarding system and what have you, but these factors are barely paid attention to—even though they have the ability to beat a teacher off any ability they have to practice teaching professionally, but the most noise are made about the (alleged) inadequacies of the teachers.

My worst fears about this start from when it is noticed that employers of teachers, stakeholders in education, and even the institutions training teachers hold and promote the belief that the ideal teacher should be able to improvise and deal with the unfriendly situations surrounding being a teacher, which in other words and in the present Nigeria means that the ideal teacher is expected to be able to get used to the unfriendly situations deterring productive teaching and teach anyway. This continually brings about controversies between the side of the government and that of the teachers, with each of the sides always trying to prove their own correctness and the wrongness of the other side. The controversies between the side of the governments and that of the teachers get intense per administration that now, a government would (as a clap-back on the teachers anytime they in agitation do or say anything against the government) go the extra miles to prove that the teachers are incompetent and not worthy of whatever they are agitating for. Also, as education is one of the most important tools in evaluating governance and gaining political grounds, recently, governments (in their endeavours to blame the failures of the education system on the teachers) do all in their powers to prove that the teachers are not pedagogically sound, and they are not capable of being the professional teachers they are meant to be.

To make this a trend, governors—especially those of the South-Western Nigerian states—now pay impromptu visits to secondary schools in their states with cameras and boom mics to inspect teachers, not to praise or motivate them, but to dig up and publicize their lapses as teachers. To join the trend of digging up and publicizing the teachers’ lapses, state governments now have interest in adopting the “Competency Test” the governor of Kaduna State, Governor Nasir El-Rufai conducted on the state’s teachers in 2017; from its results it was published that 21,780 of the 33,000 teachers who wrote the test could not score up to 75%. Even though the 75% pass mark used by the Kaduna State Government to determine the competency of the teachers is above the 60% benchmark recommended by the state’s branch of Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), still, the 21,780 recorded as failed out of the 33,000 teachers who wrote the test is alarming! Also, judging by the fact that the questions they wrote are for the students of the classes they teach, this must bring about the question; how does a person efficiently teach what they don’t really know? Not addressing the levels of validity and credibility of the competency test conducted on the teachers, that any teacher at all fails in answering any question of their pupils’ already makes it easy to resolve that the teacher is incompetent.

Personally, it would be difficult for me to trust any competency test a government with shady political agendas and propagandas conduct on any group of its employees—especially the group that’s always agitating on something used as the standard for defining the failure or success of a government (e.g. the teachers)—as I’m aware such government would go any length to demean this group of employees to the levels that the public and relevant institutions don’t have faith in their positions. This should be noticed, states government in Nigeria rarely or maybe never publicly make boasts of their teachers, or claim that they are standard teachers and are capable of being the best at what they are trained to do, even when they perpetually make boasts of the competency and professionalism of staffs of other sectors of their government (that are giving better credits to their government). This would show how deep the governments are in the habit of not seeing their teachers as competent and praise deserving. There is here an argument that the governments would go any length to demean their teachers, and the reasons for such action can range from trying to exonerate themselves from the blames of the failures of the education sector to trying to justify why teachers are not rewarded better.

About Olusegun Peters

  • Olusegun Peters is a businessman, a politician and a scholar. He is passionate about impacting as many people as possible one person at a time. Read more about Olusegun here

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