By Mary Ogar
As Nigeria joins the international community today to commemorate the World Teachers’ Day, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has estimated that the country would need 1.4 million teachers more to provide every child with good quality primary education by 2030.
According to a document released by the world body on October 2 to commemorate this year’s anniversary, Sub Sahara Africa faces the biggest challenge, “with a total of 2.7 million teachers needed in schools” even now. And for every 100 children of school age existing today, the report estimates that there will be 142 in 2030.”
As a result, countries across the region will need to create 2.2 million new teaching positions by 2030, while filling about 3.9 million positions, the report noted.
This year’s slogan – Empowering Teachers, Building Sustainable Societies – described teachers as not only the means to implementing educational goals, but also the key to sustainability and national capacity in achieving learning and creating societies based on knowledge, values and ethics.
Although, the report acknowledged that many countries had increased their rates of teacher recruitment over the past decade as part of efforts to expand access to education, “but these policies generally involve a trade-off favouring quantity over quality.”
Nigeria launched the Universal Basic Education (UBE) scheme in 1999, but it was not until 2004 that the National Assembly put the enabling Act in place. While the constitution gives the management of primary education to the states, the federal government still provides a block grant of two per cent of its Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) as matching grants for primary education.
About 10 per cent of the CRF is allocated to Teacher Professional Development. Between 2005 and 2011, the federal government expended more than N14.9 billion on teacher training across the country. However, there have been disagreements between the federal government and state governments over propriety of the Federal Teachers’ Scheme (FTS), launched by the former to augment the acute shortage of teachers nationwide.
Some states, like Lagos, insisted that many of the individuals under the FTS were not qualified to teach. This hampered the intended outcomes and as some refused to absorb those posted to them.
However, Rivers State took a bold step in 2013 when it recruited about 13,000 teachers for its primary and secondary schools, attracting commendation from the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC).
On the other hand, while Lagos admits that it lacks the required number of teachers for its schools, the immediate past chairman of the State’s Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Mrs. Gbolahan Daodu told The Intellectual in an interview that 99 percent of the teachers in the state were qualified.
Besides, the National Commission for Colleges of Education, under its immediate past Executive Secretary, Prof Mohammed Junaid had some three years ago, embarked on a comprehensive review of the curriculum being used to train teachers in the Colleges of Education.
World Teachers’ Day (WTD) has been celebrated on October 5 of every year since 1994 when UNESCO created it, to honour the adoption of the International Labour Organisation/UNESCO Recommendations, concerning Teaching Personnel in 1966.