Education sector in is in deep crisis -Prof. Olaopa

Hon. Chairman, Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC), Prof. Tunji Olaopa (6th from left) with College of Education Academic Staff Union Association (CEASUA) President, Dr. Smart Olugbeko (4th from left) flanked (L & R) by members of the Union Executive and FCSC Commissioners during the Union courtesy visit to Prof. Olaopa on Thursday.
Hon. Chairman, Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC), Prof. Tunji Olaopa (6th from left) with College of Education Academic Staff Union Association (CEASUA) President, Dr. Smart Olugbeko (4th from left) flanked (L & R) by members of the Union Executive and FCSC Commissioners during the Union courtesy visit to Prof. Olaopa on Thursday.

.……says teaching profession is now all comer affairs.

With challenges facing education system in Nigeria, Professor Tunji Olaopa has described the situation in the sector as deep crisis that needs policy innovation and deep creativity to overcome. He said teaching profession has now become all comer affairs which is not good for the development of the profession.

He made this known when he received the National Executive of College of Education Academic Staff Union Association (CEASUA) led by its President Dr. Smart Olugbeko in his office on a courtesy visit.

The Chairman said as a teacher, he was very familiar with education sector and its challenges. It is a terrain not new to him. Olaopa explained that he had the best career when he was a Deputy Director, Head of Policy Division, Federal Ministry of Education which made him to be very familiar on local and global conversation on education.

He disclosed that the Union is a critical stakeholder in the development of education in the country, and that no nation can develop without a sound education that takes the capacity development of its teachers very seriously. He asserts that Colleges of Education produces more practically oriented teachers than a graduate of Faculty of Education at the universities that are more theoretically inclined. Olaopa said issue of institutionalized indiscipline in educational sector is worrisome and manifest in different ways; saying that once teaching and manner of delivery is weak it will equally have a serious effect in the quality of civil servant and civil service.

He said part of the challenges currently bedeviling education sector is the skill sets of the teachers that are not well trained in the art and science of teaching. He added that the setting up of private schools that are profit driven rather than passion for the sector as well as the cancellation of teacher training College (TTC) that used to be the production and recruiting ground for teachers many years back has had negative effect on the quality of schools and teachers being produced.

As he called for the revisit of TTC, he assured the National Executive of his unalloyed support in their quest to improve the fortune of education in Nigeria including working for the success of the dual mandates given to Colleges of Education as NCE and B.Ed certificate awarding institutions. He promised the Union that he was going to attend their upcoming Conference holding in Abuja on Tuesday, next week.

He said as a person who has Chaired Technical Working Group of Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget & Planning on education and human capital development where a succession plan is to be developed for economic growth and recovery plan during Buhari administration; brought him up to speed on some of the contending issues in Nigeria.

He noted that there were many initiatives to professionalize teaching profession; saying that he was privy to Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria efforts in identifying who a teacher is; and this is still not fully answered in the face of current realities where teaching profession is still largely an all comer affairs, particularly in private schools.

He pointed out that there is global benchmark regarding the modelling of tertiary education into three concurrent significance that caters for different aspects of national development. According to him, this modelling was established such that universities, colleges of education and other mono-techniques and poly-techniques will function within a framework of complementarity in a way that will compel the three to cater for human capital requirement of the country.

He said this complementarity was an ideal flexible relationship in other climes; but this has structurally and historically altered in favour of one which is the University in Nigeria. This measure according him has become crippling for national skills equilibrium to the detriment of national development.

As education policy person, Olaopa stated it has been unfortunate that the reigning theory today in Nigeria is that university alone can produce the entire manpower that Nigeria requires; saying that what universities are even producing are white collar jobbers who really lack the core skills to function beyond the theoretic.

He added that the nation suffers at the levels of vocational and technical skills where Nigeria depends on Togo and Benin republic to supply artisans to the country; which leads to unresolvable structural unemployment that is making a mess of one of the biggest asset Nigeria has which is the youth population as compared to other OECD countries that have aging populations that now use migration of Nigerians and other developing country’s youths to bridge their depreciating and aging population.

“It also making a mess of most of job creation efforts because most of the fundamental issues have remained unresolved”.

He emphasized that through policies, government also made the situation worse based on the discrimination between the different skills levels. He disclosed that in Canada one is assessed on what one can do and not on the size of one’s certificate but what one can deliver. He said an average teacher in a school in Britain can even earn more than a university lecturer because that level is considered essential formative learning of a child.

“It also making a mess of government’s policy on poverty reduction efforts because Nigeria has entered into a terrible paranoid- a certificate craze where parents think that except their children get university education they are not educated. He said this is a terrible cancer that is killing the nation”.

“….somebody will go and read first degree and read master’s and now go back to employability skills training and vocational training to now go and learn fashion designing, carpentry in order for them to find something to do. They acquired master’s degree for brag.”

He called for the return of Teacher Training College (TTC) which was replaced by National College of Education (NCE) which is now being wiped away by University’s Bachelor of Education (B.Ed). He said this was very unfortunate. The Chairman also called for policy innovation and deep creativity that will remove College of Education from its current existential challenge; stressing that degree awarding at university is different from training for college of education. He equally explained that research reinforce pedagogy at the university which is different from training for regular teachers.

In his remark earlier, the President of the association Dr. Olugbeko said the reason for the courtesy call was to intimate the FCSC Chairman about their sector including its challenges and opportunities. He further said that they came to seek the support of the Commission in the realization and implementation of the dual mandate approved and signed into law by the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. He enjoined the government to pay more attention to Colleges of Education because they have more capacity to solve problem of inadequate teachers, problem of confidence and out of school children that the nation is facing presently.

Olugbeko stressed that Universities in Nigeria only produce less than 20% of teachers the nation need because teachers are only being produced at the level of Faculty of Education in the Universities. Using University of Ibadan as a case in point, the President revealed that the University can only produce 300 university graduates in a particular year from the Faculty of Education; comparing that to a College of Education that can produce 10,000 students in a particular session.

He informed Hon. Chairman that out of the 71 Colleges of Education in Nigeria, 47 of them award educational degrees in affiliation with universities; and they produce even more graduate-education than the parent university.

The President further intimated Olaopa that the Union in collaboration with the National Assembly and magnanimity of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, laws on College of Education was amended to give the College rights and mandate to award degrees in addition to National Certificate in Education (NCE). He pointed out that the Hon. Minister of Education has also graciously set up Committee to bring about its implementation.

He said by September this year, the Colleges of Education will be able to produce graduates and also NCE at that level based on the dual-mandates given to the institutions. He, therefore, called for the support and collaboration of all to make this a reality.

Olugbeko used the visit to invite Prof. Olaopa to the Union’s Conference that will start on Monday 13th and end on Friday 17th, May 2024 in Abuja.

The Conference which the President termed “digital pedagogy” was aimed at strengthening the sector as well as to inform and equip the Colleges to be able to discharge their responsibilities in view of COVID-19 that demonstrated that education is not about four wall of an institution but also digital. According to him, the conference is going to address research funding issues; as the Union wants lecturers in Colleges of Education to be more research-oriented and have capacity to come up with fundable research proposals that will bring practical solutions to problems in the country.

Taiwo Hassan
Head (Press & Public Relations).