By James KANYIP.
The Punch Online Newspaper reported yesterday, 10/10/2017, that the Governor of Kaduna State said that about 21,780 out of the 33,000 Primary School teachers in Kaduna State failed the Primary Four test conducted by the Kaduna State Government to test their competence.
As a result of this development, the Governor said that the State would shop for 25,000 new teachers as one of the plans to restore dignity and quality to education. The Newspaper quoted him thus:
“We tested our 33,000 primary school teachers, we gave them primary four examination and required they must get at least 75 per cent but I am sad to announce that 66 per cent of them failed to get the requirements.
“The hiring of teachers in the past was politicized and we intend to change that by bringing in young and qualified primary school teachers to restore the dignity of education in the state.”
The initiative to test these teachers is commendable for many obvious reasons which are commonplace. The quality of the teachers and teachings in our public Primary Schools is best described unspoken.
Because pupils have no quality basic education at the Primary School level, they find it very difficult to cope at the Secondary and Tertiary levels. A house built on faulty foundation cannot stand.
Expectedly, the social media has become awashed with posts and comments regarding this issue. Many have made uncomplimentary and unpleasant remarks against the affected teachers and called for their immediate sack in sync with the position taken by the State Government.
But, I want to see this issue from a different viewpoint.
Before we crucify those teachers, let us appraise our educational standard and system at all levels. We all know that for many years now, the standard of education in Nigeria has drastically fallen at all levels.
Before, when we had the Teachers Colleges, the minimum required qualification for teaching in Primary Schools was the Teachers Grade Two Certificate. With their scrapping, we now have the National Certificate of Education (NCE) from Colleges of Education as the upgraded minimum qualification.
Even with this upgrade, the quality of education has not been salvaged. Instead, it has continued to dwindle and nose-dive for the worse. A lot of systemic factors are responsible for this.
Even those that have managed to make good grades, legitimately or illegitimately, from the poor standard would rather go for other jobs, but not teaching. Therefore, teaching jobs are left for the below-average performing graduates to do.
The problem is not with those teachers but the system. There is a systemic collapse in the education industry. Therefore, given the same circumstances, the quality of teachers and teachings will not improve to an appreciable level. I say this because:
If the State Government subjects those 25,000 new teachers to be recruited to the same examinations that those teachers were subjected to, I bet you the outcome may not be any different. This is because those 25,000 passed through the same educational system with those teachers.
The computerist will say: “garbage in; garbage out”. And the farmer will say: “you reap what you sow”. We cannot expect super graduates or high flyers in a sub-standard educational system. We cannot do the same thing and expect the same results. Let us not deceive ourselves about this.
Substituting those teachers with the 25,000 others may not bring the desired result at the long run. Teaching needs some special trainings, skills and arts. Are the 25,000 professionally or vocationally trained and equipped as teachers? Apart from paper certificate, do they have the competence, experience and wherewithal to embark on this job?
So far, the State Government has only discovered the problem affecting the Primary Schools only. What about the Secondary Schools? Bigger and worse problems may lie there too.
Although the purge of the incompetent teachers is commendable as I said ealier, I think proper reform in the education industry should start from the system and not necessarily the replacement of teachers. A good system will produce good teachers; a bad system will produce bad teachers.
And for those making mocking and sarcastic comments against those teachers, I will advise them to go and write the same examination and let us see whether they will perform any better.