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Nigeria grapples with severe teacher shortage

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By Usman Oladimeji

Millions of children could be out of school without immediate action.

The Executive Secretary of the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Dr. Hamid Bobboyi, has pointed out that Nigeria’s public primary schools are experiencing a severe shortage of qualified teachers. Out of the 694,078 teachers needed in the system, only 499,202 are currently available, leaving a deficit of 194,876 teachers. This shortage is particularly more challenging in rural regions, where states have not been hiring new educators or replacing those who have left in recent years, contributing to poor educational results.

Bobboyi also highlighted the significant Infrastructure issues in schools, with many classrooms in poor condition and lacking basic facilities such as furniture and toilets. He advocated for Private Sector contribution to help address these challenges alongside government efforts. Dr. Bala Yusuf Yinusa, representative of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), warned that without immediate action, millions of children could be out of school or without access to Education by 2030 due to underinvestment in the sector.

Lack of infrastructure in rural areas worsen teachers shortages.

Based on regions, the situation is particularly terrible in rural areas, as opposed to metropolitan areas, where deployment is higher. This imbalance causes overcrowded classrooms, less individual attention for pupils, and lower educational achievements. To overcome this issue, more attention should be made on recruiting new educators as well as providing ongoing Professional Development and support to maintain excellent teaching standards. Another issue to consider is the teacher-to-student ratio, which is 1:124 in the country’s North-East, compared to the national policy recommendation of 1:35. This disparity worsens learning inadequacies and Teacher overwork.

Moreover, the lack of infrastructure in rural areas also drives educators to migrate to urban centres, worsening the teacher shortage. To retain teachers, there must be improvements in basic amenities and classroom conditions. In 2023, the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) highlighted the teacher shortfall and criticized state governments for not addressing the issue. Statistics from the NUT revealed that states including Abia, Bayelsa, Bauchi, Benue, Cross River, Ebonyi, Edo, Gombe, Jigawa, Kano, Kogi, Ogun, Plateau, Rivers, Taraba, and Zamfara did not conduct any teacher recruitment campaign between 2018 and 2022.

915,593 teachers serve 32m children in elementary schools.

According to the Universal Basic Education Commission, Nigeria has 47 million students, 171,027 schools, and 1.68 million teachers, with significant imbalances in teacher distribution. UBEC’s 2022 National Personnel Audit found that there are 915,593 teachers serving 32 million children in elementary schools, 416,291 teachers serving eight million students in junior secondary schools, and 354,651 teachers serving 7.2 million students in pre-primary schools. As of 2023, there were 2.3 million registered instructors in the teachers Registration Council of Nigeria’s database.

Historically, Nigeria has always struggled with a lack of financing for education and subpar programmes for teacher preparation. In order to address these problems, the Universal Basic Education (UBE) programme was implemented in the late 1990s and early 2000s. However, progress has been sluggish due to uneven policy implementation, unstable political environments, Corruption and a lack of accountability. In recent years, the government has increased teacher recruitment and prioritized infrastructural investments in schools. Tech companies and non-governmental organizations are working on Digital Learning solutions and educators training programmes, especially in rural locations. But these initiatives are still in their infancy and are yet to show desired results.

Related Article: More teachers leave Nigeria for abroad

Experts contend that raising pay, providing opportunities for professional growth, and enhancing working conditions are essential to recruit and retain qualified workers. Educators must receive ongoing training in order to keep current with the newest approaches to teaching. They encouraged partnership between the public and private sectors as well as foreign organizations to solve the teacher shortage and raise the standard of Education in Nigeria. Government needs to reward educators fairly in order to support these efforts even further, and emulate countries like Finland where educators are among the top paid professionals.


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