Must Read!! Kwara Teachers and the Quality of Education

2 Comments » December 13th, 2008 posted by // Categories: Education for Nigerians (EFN)


Monday, December 08, 2008              

Kwara teachers and the quality of education

THE Kwara State Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Alhaji Bolaji Abdullahi did well recently when he brought the dismal performance of thousands of teachers in the state's public primary and secondary schools to national attention. The commissioner did not mince words in noting that there is a systemic failure in the country's education system. The situation in Kwara State is truly a metaphor for the entire country.

According to the Kwara Commissioner for Education, an aptitude and capacity test was organised for a total of 19,125 teachers in the state's public school system. Out of these, 2,628 were university graduates. The teachers were given tests that were designed originally for primary four pupils in English and Mathematics. At the end of the exercise, only seven teachers out of the 19,125 crossed the minimum aptitude and capacity threshold. Only one out of the 2,628 graduate teachers passed the test, 10 graduates scored outright zero. The teachers fared worse in literacy assessments which recorded only 1.2 per cent pass rate. Abdullahi dejectedly added: "More worrying is that nearly 60 per cent of the teachers cannot read information or use the information in preparing a simple lesson." This is depressing, if not disgraceful.

The commissioner was so embarrassed he concluded that wrong people are in the teaching profession, and the future of the state's children is in jeopardy. The tests which were designed to determine the capacity of teachers to handle primary school level Mathematics and English for children up to the age 10, have clearly thrown up a challenge about the quality of teaching nation-wide. The primary school is important as a

foundation level for every child's education. If teachers at that level are so incompetent, then there is a lot of cause for anxiety.

To a great extent, the development in Kwara reflects the crisis in the education sector in recent years. The quality of teachers in the system has become a major problem at all levels. It may even be said that the teachers failed because their own education failed them at every stage. Besides, governments have not been responsive enough in investing in on-the-job training of teachers. Teachers need to be trained and retrained but state and Federal governments do not seem to realise how important this is. How much investment has the Kwara State government for example made in this regard?

It is almost axiomatic that school teachers in Nigeria are treated badly: their salaries are poor, the salaries are not paid on time, and yet they are required to provide quality service. Teachers' morale is low across the country. While this does not provide any justification for incompetence, it may be correctly assumed that a better condition of service would be one way of motivating teachers at all levels.

The Kwara State initiative is nonetheless commendable. The school system should be closely monitored and evaluated by the authorities. But what yardstick was used for the assessment? For instance, why were all teachers, irrespective of discipline, and specialisation asked to sit for a Mathematics test? Would it not have been better if a teacher was assessed based on his or her core discipline? Teachers in private schools

were left out of the exercise. The same measurement could have been applied to them to determine if there would be any discrepancies since most parents now patronise private schools, due to a growing lack of confidence in the public school system.

Problems in the education sector of which the quality of teachers is a component are many and varied. It is imperative for all stakeholders to wake up to the reality of a failing education system whose products are no longer accorded serious recognition outside the country's shores. Even within the country, many employers of labour prefer to employ only graduates of foreign universities.

Effective service delivery, once the hallmark of Nigerian schools and colleges, is now lacking in all respects. Kwara teachers are only a metaphor for a decadent system, where favouritism, corruption, compromise, incompetence and the like hold sway in every facet of life. It is now so easy for a student to pass through a Nigerian school without much effort. Many even allegedly pay their way through. The products of this decadence eventually join the labour market and the evidence is writ large in form of their incompetence.

Policy makers, school administrators and curriculum planners have also been largely responsible for pushing inconsistent and incoherent policies, which hasten the failure of the teaching profession. The inconsistency becomes so glaring with every change of policy. Education planners can do better. From all indications, Nigeria has not been able to meet the United Nations recommendation of making available at least 28 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to improve education, just as she has fallen short in other critical areas of the economy. Education development, a key component of President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua's Seven-point Agenda which seeks to make Nigeria one of the top 20 economies of the world by 2020, is so far a glaring area of failure.

What the Kwara Commissioner has unearthed is like a pandemic. Considering the incalculable damage that has been done to the education sector, a holistic approach to solving the problem is required, in both medium and long-term bases. The effort could begin with the re-training of teachers. Teaching should also be made truly professional in order to attract capable and committed persons.

Without a functional educational system, the nation's future is bleak. The government must step in to avert a disastrous future for the next generation. Teachers also have a personal responsibility to take their assignments more seriously and seek to develop themselves intellectually. The nation cannot afford an illiterate population in this scientific and technological age.

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2 Responses to “Must Read!! Kwara Teachers and the Quality of Education”

  1. […] in more prosperous Nigerian States such as Kwara the ability of teachers is astonishingly low: a recent assessment found only 7 out of 19,125 teachers making the grade. This puts into perspective the low level of […]

  2. soliu kozeem says:

    Bolaji abdullah is always behaving as a good ambassador in any position I meet him self. He doesn’t behave as the rest unloyal calling them self loyaltys 

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