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UK Firm Organises Exchange For Tutors In Public, Private Schools


School-children-CopyHEEDING calls that countries, which benefit from a large contingent of Nigerian students abroad, should consider giving back to the country by helping teachers interact and exchange tips and ideas on best global practices in education, UK Immigration Lawyer and Executive Director, The Taylor Partnership, Mark Taylor, in collaboration with ALTS consulting, has flagged off a seminar for private and public school teachers to interact with their counterparts from the UK, in facilities of select schools in Abuja and Lagos.

Taylor, who helps Nigerian students with immigration issues in the UK, said he was inspired to draw up the programme because Nigeria fared badly in relation to monies expended by its citizens in acquiring education in the UK and other countries, as the relationship appeared to run on a one-way street.

He said, “I saw UK schools come and recruit students from Nigeria and take them back. Hopefully, those students would come back to Nigeria and use the skills they have learnt to help build the country. But in the intervening period, UK schools don’t do anything here. And I think this was wrong. But now, it is going to be a two-way stream.”

Some experts have also raised concerns over quality of teachers in public schools in states across Nigeria, where cronyism and nepotism in recruitment have basterdised standards. Even as some attempts to revamp infrastructure, build classrooms and provide free books for pupils, concerns over quality of teaching still discourage many from sending their wards to public schools.

But as questions over quality and funding linger, elite private primary and secondary schools have sprouted to offer qualitative education to those who can pay. The products of these schools, which charge premium fees, are mostly shipped off to high schools and universities in America and Europe, especially the United Kingdom (UK), United States (US) and Canada.

“Of course, UK schools are going to come and recruit good Nigerian students, but at the same time, how can they help Nigerian schools to produce good students. I went back to the UK schools and asked if they were prepared to come to Nigeria and work with teachers here, do a professional exercise, exchange ideas, work together and help each other improve. When the UK schools said they were interested, I went to the Nigerian schools and asked what they would like us to do for them. Avi Cena agreed to host this. We spoke to the academic staff at the school to know what they would like us to assist them,” Taylor said.

He added that a similar exercise was held in Abuja at Regent School and British Nigerian Academy, noting that he intends to build a relationship between Nigeria and British schools, where they share information on teaching. He noted that a critical leg of the programme is to invite some Nigerian teachers to the UK, where they would spend some time in some schools and the teachers from the schools would come to a Nigerian school, in order to achieve a complete mixture.

According to him, “I am planning another one of this at spring. Nigeria and UK have so much in common. We share similarities in cultures, families. There are a lot of families in the UK that have Nigerian descendants. Education underpins all of that. This only extends that linkage.”
Hoping for a day that Nigerian students will be comfortable with learning in the country, he said teachers and schools needed to be given the professional status that they deserve and that the delegates from the UK are coming to the country to work with Nigerian teachers and help up-skill them.

Managing Partner, ALTS consulting, Foluke Sawyer, said being its infancy stage, the programme has recorded commendable success and that the host school, Avi Cena, was kind to open its doors to about 150 teachers, including those from other schools.

According to her, “I think we can never over-train for anything, especially Continuous Professional Development (CPD). Teachers get trained from time to time, but I also think for them to have collaboration with people who are in the same industry as them from a different country, would give them the opportunity to appreciate each other and different ways of learning. I am sure the UK teachers would learn one or two things from our teachers. Some of them have told me that they have learnt quite a bit.

Mr. Soetan Jeremiah, one of the trainees, said the training was resourceful and impactful, noting that many teachers have needs in the course of their routine that were addressed in some of the sessions.

He added, “In the course of the term, there were problems I was thinking of how to provide solutions to. I am grateful that I am in a classroom where learnt how to solve those problems. So, I don’t have to think of the problems anymore.

“The way I was taught is not the way I teach now. This training is helping detach from the system we were used to. It is not easy to walk out of the system that produced you, especially when you happen to be the best of that system. This sought of training makes that paradigm shift easy and seamless.”

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