Teachers critical to national growth, development
To meet the 21st century challenges, the country needs teachers who must provide functional education for skill acquisition, job creation and poverty reduction, former education minister, Prof Ruqqayat Rufai, has said.
Subsequently, Rufai added that they must be well paid to attract the best minds.The former minister was the guest speaker at the yearly distinguished lecture series of the Lagos State University (LASU) titled, ‘Teacher preparation for Nigerian schools adequacy, effectiveness and impact.’She said, “Teachers must be well paid. Their take homes must take them home, we need teachers in good numbers and with the right quality. Teachers are central to the education process, they are responsible for communicating the curriculum and they are recognised as change agents.
“ Implementation of teacher education is key to meeting national education objectives, in reviewing the National Certificate of Education (NCE) curriculum, attention has been paid to the requirement of the basic and secondary education sector. Whatever we do with education has to be relevant outside the school system. If the education we are giving is not relevant, then we need to change the curriculum.”
While pointing out that Nigeria needs qualified teachers to teach, the former minister urged those who are yet to obtain their professional certificates to do so in order to meet global trends.She identified the challenges confronting effective teacher education to include lack of political will, inadequate funding, poor infrastructure as well as lack of effective incentives for teachers and short term teaching practice.
“We must flush out all unqualified teachers. They must be qualified before coming back to teach our students. Unqualified teachers are not acceptable.“The three months teaching practice is too short. Let us have one year, besides, throughout the university period, we must make use of micro-teaching so that when they graduate, they can be ready.”
To address the problems, Prof Rufai said there must be constant training and retraining of teachers. “Organise training in line with their identified capacities and those unable to cope should be assigned to other responsibilities or transferred to other sectors.”She also canvassed the launch of a special scholarship programme for teachers to attract the best brains in the society.
“The problem with the profession is that people take teaching as a last resort, not a first option. Providing scholarship will motivate some to be interested in teaching primarily. Teachers should be placed on special salary scales, as well as provision of housing and health care facilities. All these are because this group of students will one day hold the key to preparing a great part of the population for the future.”
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