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Honestly, We Can’t Blame Them By Samuel Ogunnaike

In general, professions exist in their drones across the world. While professions like law, medicine and engineering have received superb attention, others are labeled unimpressive. Teaching seems to have been in this downgrading specter of professions.

Accordingly, it appears that teachers are one of the professionals that are underpaid. In the US, a research pool surveying the opinions of teachers indicates that while 19% of the classroom teachers exit the classroom, 79% are considering a similar decision. According to the Wall Street Journal, the US public education employees had the fastest resignation rate in 2018.

In Nigeria, where I live, the opposite is true. In spite of their low remuneration, they barely resign or take a bow from the teaching duty. Have teachers resigned to fate? Far be it! Everyone, like Karl Max, once opined is in pursuit of economic happiness. In addition to this, 30% of teacher-trainees did not even enter the classroom at all, despite having certificates and rigorous training in education. In the 60s, parents were asked if they wanted their children to enter teaching profession, over 85% of the parents nodded affirmatively.

Today, I mean in 2018, the same question was asked; over 85% of the parents nodded in contempt-parents did not want the children to become teachers. It is more shocking, perhaps, paradoxical, when the same question was put to teachers. The majority of them did not want their children to follow them into the profession.

On leave our classroom policy by Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria, TRCN is an agency of the Federal Ministry of Education of Nigeria. Its mandates are the regulation and control of the teaching profession at all levels of the Nigerian Education system, both in the public and private sectors. The unqualified teachers as pointed out by TRCN are teachers without license, I guess, in the form of certification among others. Can we blame these unqualified teachers? In the first place, how did they sneak into the profession they were not licensed to practise? Was TRCN sleeping or slumbering? As far as this piece will not interact on the slumberness of the TRCN, it will rationalise the influx of the unqualified teachers into the noblest profession. I, understand, a plethora of reasons can be conjectured for this professional immigration, nonetheless, the central factor that pulled them in was joblessness. In terms of unemployment in Nigeria, the rate is stubbornly rising. It has, for instance, jumped from 18.1% to 23.1% between 2017 and 2018.

It seems there is the undeniable I nee-to-work gene, in the body system of an average African, especially, Nigerian. The need to work-remember, to be idle is to befriend the devil. Teaching was relatively the least competitive profession that could accommodate the jobless graduates on our street. Some unqualified teachers later on, found passion in the classroom, though others saw it as a temporary job. If we send them packing, they will leave. The vexing questions are these-where are we sending to? Where are the licensed teachers to immediately replace them? When they exit the classroom, will examination practice cease? Will teacher-made grade stop? Will students’ irresponsible behavior take a new shape? Will the government improve its budgetary allocation to education as UNESCO stipulated? Will the sons and daughters of the politicians now fancy our schools? Will the posting of Corp Members to schools de-exist? I hope, 2020, is not a new year of a new problem.

Honestly, we can’t blame them. The unqualified teachers in our classrooms are not the problem, they are a symptom of a problem. Treating the symptom is not treating the ailment. The unqualified teachers are symptomatic of our real problem.

OGUNNAIKE, Samuel lives in Lagos

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