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Primary school teacher shortage hits 194,876

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By Abiodun Okunloye

Swift action is needed from stakeholders to address the educational decline.

According to the latest report by the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), there are nearly 195,000 teacher shortages in public primary schools in Nigeria. This significant deficit of educators was disclosed in the 2022–2023 UBEC National Personnel Audit report. Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) leadership is deeply troubled by recent developments and urges swift action from stakeholders, especially state governments, to address the situation. Research has shown that numerous public primary schools in rural regions are facing a shortage, with some schools only having two to three teachers.

This is mainly due to state governments not hiring new teachers for an extended period. According to the NPA report, out of the 694,078 primary school teachers needed, only 499,202 are currently employed, resulting in a gap of 194,876 teachers. In the space of Early Childhood Care Development Education (ECCDE) and junior secondary schools, it seemed like there was an excess of teachers compared to the demand for them. As highlighted in the report, the shortage of qualified teachers in Nigeria’s primary schools is exacerbating the issue of learning poverty in basic education.

Educators are unevenly distributed, with a bias towards urban schools.

In ECCDE, there were 3,348,112 students enrolled and a demand for 133,924 teachers. Surprisingly, there were 257,695 teachers available, resulting in an excess of 123,771 teachers. In junior secondary school (JSS), there were 5,674,796 students, and 141,876 teachers were needed. However, there were actually 223,387 teachers present, which resulted in an excess of 81,517 teachers. The issue arises from the uneven distribution of teachers, with a bias towards urban schools.

Their influence on teaching and learning dynamics is crucial, impacting learner outcomes significantly. In 2022, the basic education sector had a total of 1,686,535 teachers. Among them, 354,651 were in ECCDE, 915,596 were in primary schools, and 416,291 were in junior secondary schools. In 2022, the number of ECCDE teachers spiked to 96,956, a remarkable increase from 43,368 in 2018. However, by 2023, the number of public primary and junior secondary schools declined by 21.0%. This shift indicates a lack of new teacher recruitment and replacement for departed staff within state governments.

Japa trend and inadequate support for teachers are the leading causes.

The report highlighted that the increase in one-teacher schools in rural areas has led to a lack of engagement among learners. Stakeholders have raised concerns regarding the development, particularly in light of the japa trend and the inadequate support for teachers in Nigeria. This has led to qualified teachers leaving the profession for better-paying jobs. UNICEF highlighted the issue of a shortage of skilled teachers in Nigeria, specifically in the North-East region, where there is a concerning teacher-to-student ratio of 1:124. This area is home to many children who are not attending school.

Comrade Audu Titus Amba, the President of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), expressed concern over state governments’ lack of teacher recruitment in the past decade. He emphasised that Nigerian teachers face numerous challenges in their efforts to educate, instil values, and pass on skills to the younger generation. Amba highlighted that without a sufficient number of teachers, effective teaching and learning cannot occur. Learning is essential for advancing society and boosting economic success. It allows individuals to climb the social ladder and harness the country’s maximum capabilities.

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They need to guarantee that each and every child is provided with a high-quality education, regardless of their background, birth circumstances, or beliefs. To accomplish this important objective, they must appreciate and recognise the significant impact teachers have on the social unity that binds society together. Teachers are much more than just educators; they serve as role models, counsellors, and supporters for young individuals. He stated that they could motivate, inspire, and mould future leaders.

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UBEC: Website

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