“Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” – Matthew 5:7.
“For the one who does not practice mercy will have his judgement without mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgement.” – James 2:13.
Please, this is a humble appeal directed to the concerned authorities, requesting that at least some form of consideration be shown to some competent and quality teachers, who would otherwise be referred to as “unqualified,” going strictly by their non-possession of the N.C.E/B.Ed./PGDE or other education-related qualifications, as well as their status of registration with the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN).
Going by this policy on possession of only education-related qualifications by all schoolteachers, some pertinent questions arise in the minds of many, especially those who are likely to be affected by it. Such questions include:
Would someone who currently works as a Subject Teacher in a primary or secondary school, for example, and who studied a course related to the subject he teaches, but only at the Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.), Bachelor of Engineering (B.Eng.) or Bachelor of Arts (B.A) degree level, be required to forfeit his/her current teaching position, to be replaced by someone else who has an N.C.E, B.Ed., PGDE, or other education-related qualification in that subject area?
Would people currently working as Assistant Teachers/Classroom Assistants/Teaching Assistants also be required to possess the education-related qualifications currently required of all schoolteachers? . . . etc.
Also, considering the high rate of unemployment in the country currently, will the removal of teachers from classrooms on the grounds that they do not possess education-related qualifications, not cause the already high level of unemployment in the country to rise? If this directive is enforced, many who entered into the teaching profession as ‘apprentices,’ by learning on the job, and who have, over the years, made significant progress in the teaching profession, who have become competent and quality teachers, and who have also developed a strong passion for the teaching profession, would be forced to exit the profession that they have come to love, with probably little or no alternative employment opportunities or sources of livelihood.
In addition, with regard to the effect of unemployment on people, psychologists find that among today’s unemployed, psychiatric and psychological problems are increasing, as well as emotional instability, frustration, progressive apathy, and loss of self-respect. When a person with children to care for loses a job, it is a terrible personal tragedy. The world has collapsed around them. Security has evaporated. Today, in fact, some experts note the emergence of an “anticipatory anxiety” related to the possibility of losing one’s job. This anxiety can seriously affect family relations and can have even more tragic results, as recent suicides of unemployed persons may indicate. Furthermore, the difficulty of breaking into the labour market is among the probable causes of violence and social alienation of young people.
It should also be noted that many other factors contribute towards the low quality and falling standard of the educational system apart from the inadequate qualifications of some schoolteachers. These other factors include: the poor remuneration of teachers, the absence of functional and well equipped libraries in many public and private schools across the country, absence of modern teaching facilities, etc. In addition, the attitude of the students themselves, towards the success of their own education, also plays an important role, and should not be taken for granted.
For example, with regard to libraries, due to the absence of functional and well-equipped school libraries in many public and private schools across the country, students and teachers are ill-equipped with adequate educational materials and resources that could greatly contribute towards the improvement of the quality of teaching and learning in such schools.
In view of the above, some steps that could be considered as an alternative to the instant removal of “unqualified” or rather, incompetent teachers from the classrooms, in my humble opinion/suggestion, could include the other option of administering competence-based tests for these supposedly “unqualified” teachers, regardless of the educational qualifications they currently possess. This can help to ascertain their level of competence as schoolteachers, and then, for those who are found competent, trying to make a provision/opportunity for them to remain in the teaching profession, especially if their current employers can express a degree of satisfaction with their performance on the job so far, and can attest to their competence and quality.
Another option could be stipulating other alternative requirements for them, rather than instantly removing them from the classroom or requiring that they go back to school to obtain the required education-related qualifications, especially as they must already have had many years of experience on the job, as well as other equivalent, though not education-related qualifications.
Yet another option could be that these teachers be provided with adequate training and development opportunities perhaps within the schools where they currently work, that will expose them to more advanced/improved methods of performing their duties as schoolteachers, and help them update their skills and competence level. This would be more preferable than requesting that they go back to school to obtain an education-related qualification such as the NCE, B.Ed or PGDE, etc, especially as they must already have spent many years in school to obtain a B.Sc, B.Eng, or B.A, etc, before eventually securing a job as a schoolteacher. This new requirement can cause them to lose their jobs as teachers – entirely removing them from an occupation that they have come to love and for which they have developed a strong passion. Thank you.