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Stakeholders urge salary raise for teachers

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By Abiodun Okunloye

Salary increases will boost enrolment in colleges of education nationwide.

During an Abuja workshop organised by the Education Correspondent Association of Nigeria (ECAN) and sponsored by the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria, stakeholders in Nigeria’s education sector urged for higher teachers’ salaries to boost enrolment in colleges of education nationwide. The theme discussed was “A Practical Approach to Teacher Education: Challenges of Low Student Enrolment in Tertiary Institutions in Nigeria.” During a presentation on “Low Students Enrolment into Colleges of Education: 2023 UMTE as Case Study,” Fabian Benjamin, the Public Communication Adviser at the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), emphasised the importance of improving their welfare, mainly through salary increases, in order to boost enrolment at these institutions that play a vital role in primary education.

In order to increase enrolment in Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE) programs, the government must consider offering teachers better salary packages and benefits as incentives. Benjamin suggested that discouraging part-time teacher training and crash programs for teachers would help maintain enrolment numbers in colleges of Education for certification. He proposed the transformation of two Federal Colleges of Education in each of the North West, North East, and North Central Zones into Teachers’ Universities and enhancing enrolment at one in each of the remaining three zones.

Educators urge keeping universities with NCE programs.

All Universities of Education in Nigeria need to maintain the NCE programs alongside the degree programs instead of phasing them out. The speaker advocates for a more tailored approach to NCE programs, emphasising their relevance in teaching at the basic education level. Eliminating or substituting the NCE with a degree is not advisable, as each serves its purpose in the education system. Additionally, the Board of NUC will include the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE), NBTE, and JAMB representatives to ensure collaboration and uniformity in policymaking for technical and teacher education. It is suggested that the NCCE be transformed into the National Teachers Commission, which oversees and standardizes the operations of the National Teachers’ Institute and all colleges of education.

It is essential to reassess the minimum entry criteria for the NCE program to combat the prevalence of forgery and falsification of results. He urged the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN) to strive to enhance the professional standards within the teaching profession. Also, in his opening speech, TRCN Registrar Professor Josiah Ajiboye emphasised the relevance and importance of the workshop’s theme in meeting the current education challenges. He highlighted the need for a practical and strategic approach to teacher education in order to enhance quality standards and practices.

Government should create a forum to teach students values.

He expressed concern over the quality of students enrolling in education faculties and stressed the importance of addressing this issue effectively. In the current landscape of educational challenges, policies must prioritise problem-solving skills, critical thinking, creativity, imagination, digital literacy, and remote learning. Teaching in the 21st century should centre around student-focused learning through hands-on problem-solving methods. He called for the government and stakeholders to create a forum dedicated to educating students on values lost in the pursuit of material wealth. Emphasising entrepreneurship training is crucial, along with updating the curriculum to better meet students’ current needs.

Now is the moment for each and every person to step up, fully engage in addressing the challenges facing the education sector, or face the consequences. He praised ECAN for their enduring support in advancing education in Nigeria. During his opening speech, Mr. Chuks Ukwuatu, the Chairman of ECAN, highlighted that the workshop was designed to enhance the skills of members in the education field. Mr. Smith Bam, an Education Specialist, emphasised the importance of having role models in various professions to increase enrolment among children. Many students tend to avoid choosing teaching as their first option on the JAMB form due to the negative perception surrounding the career.

Related Article: NUT requests teachers’ professional salary

Low enrolment in Nigeria will persist until they receive salaries equivalent to those of medical doctors. While acknowledging the TRCN’s efforts, he emphasised the importance of improvements to achieve more remarkable outcomes. He highlighted the necessity of updating the school curriculum to align with the modern era and encouraged them to cultivate a love for reading. Furthermore, he urged school inspectors to stay current with their knowledge to ensure proficiency. The outdated curriculum, which has been in use for 20 years, is causing challenges for both students and teachers. Its impact is detrimental not only for the present but also for the future.

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