THE recent revelation that 21,780 out of the 33,000 teachers in public schools in Kaduna State failed the Primary 4 examination administered on them by the state government was something of a humid humour. It portends a deep-seated rot. It was a shock find and the Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai, unveiled a planned recruitment to replace the teachers to a delegation of the World Bank in the state, stating that his government was shopping for 33,000 teachers in order to restore dignity and quality to education in the state.
According to the governor, the recruitment of teachers had been previously politicised to the detriment of the state’s large number of pupils who had been psychologically disadvantaged by being deliberately exposed to faulty training processes while they were arguably vulnerable and ignorant. Now, these pupils will have to unlearn all that may have been previously taught them by these incompetent teachers who must of course be presumed to have already substantially ruined them, but hopefully not beyond redemption. Ironically, when the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, recently lamented the case of the whopping 75 million illiterates in the country during the International Literacy Day, his statistics could not have included either the incompetent teachers on the payroll of Kaduna State or their pupils who were erroneously presumed to be acquiring education. Interestingly, they and many others of their ilk must be included in the statistics on illiteracy in order to have a correct estimation.
But the revelation actually should serve as a wake-up call to other governors to pay closer attention to the quality of tuition being made available to the pupils attending their so-called public schools. While the environment of learning may be important, it is not to be more valued than the quality of tuition and teachers. We recall with indignation how teachers in Ekiti State rebuffed an erstwhile governor’s attempt to make them write promotion examinations. It baffled not a few Nigerians that teachers could be so scared of writing examinations. Sadly, there are a lot of people who are desperately in search of employment but cannot defend the certificates they are parading.
Apparently, the process of teacher training needs to be re-examined to fit the demands of modern times. It is also now very crucial to professionalise teaching, as this is the only way to ensure quality control, especially on the ethics side. Countries like Japan and Finland actually build their developmental potential on the quality of education that is available to their citizens. In such countries, it is virtually impossible to have an untrained person teaching at any level of the school system. Teachers are certificated at all levels. It has obviously become imperative for the states of this country to look in this direction if they desire an improvement in the education sector. It is also clear that if the Inspectorate divisions of the states’ Ministry of Education were alive and well, what happened in Kaduna State would have remained the figment of the imagination of a fiction writer.
The states have a lot to do to return dignity and quality to the teaching profession, not only for the sake of the teachers in public schools, but also for the progress of the society as a whole which is ultimately predicated on the quality of the succeeding generations and how well prepared they are for the future. It is tragic that the recruitment of teachers was politicised to the point of compromising the future of Kaduna children but there can still be some form of damage control on the part of a responsive and corrective administration, first by reversing the trend and secondly, by ensuring that a future relapse is impossible. Teachers who do not possess the required professional certificates should be weeded out of the system. And let no state pretend that the phenomenon of illiterate teachers is strictly a Kaduna affair.