By Cecilia Ijuo
Abuja, Sept. 13, 2020(NAN) The Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria( TRCN) will soon to begin clamp down on unqualified teachers in public and private schools nationwide.
The Registrar and Chief Executive of the council, Prof. Josiah Ajiboye, gave the warning in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
He said with plans to fully reopen schools across the country, the council was set to swing into action by visiting schools to ascertain their level of compliance with the TRCN Act.
Ajiboye noted that the move had become necessary following the continued determination of the council to maintain high standard of education in the country.
He lamented that in spite of the grace period given to unqualified teachers across the country to get qualified and registered with the council, there were still records of many unqualified teachers.
According to him, of over four million teachers in various institutions of learning in the country, only about two million were registered with the council as qualified teachers.
“The mandate of TRCN is about teacher professionalism in public and private schools and National Council on Education has directed that anybody who wants to teach must be qualified and registered with TRCN.
“We have about 2.2 million teachers that are registered with TRCN and the figure is still extremely low because from available statistics we have about four million teachers in the country.
“That means a large number of them are still not registered. We first of all check if they are qualified before we talk of registration and as such we first carry out monitoring for compliance.
“We started in February before the lockdown to check those who are not qualified and what should be done in that regard.
“Now that the Federal Government is considering all indices for full reopening of schools, we are also set to continue from where we stopped in February.
“TRCN has offices in all the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). So we move round to check compliance,” he said.
The registrar commended efforts made by critical stakeholders, particularly state governors in ensuring that unqualified teachers under their employment got qualified to avoid being laid off.
He, therefore, urged affected teachers to take advantage of such opportunities to get qualified and registered with TRCN or risk being laid off and prosecuted.
“TRCN has the power to remove unqualified teachers. We are the only one that can call anybody a teacher.
“We are trying to start what is called naming and shaming to send to state governments for them to know the number of teachers that are in their employment list that are not qualified.
“We are calling on all teachers that are not qualified to remediate their deficiencies and get qualified.
“In view of that state governments are directing teachers to go back to school to get qualified. So, those affected are asked to comply in their best interest.”
Ajiboye, asked teachers who were yet to be registered with the council to take advantage of the next opening for qualifying examination, coming up in November to do the noble or risk sanction.
On challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in the teaching profession, Ajiboye called on teachers to take up courses to improve their skills.
He said besides being qualified and registered with TRCN, teachers must acquire additional skills, particularly in technology assisted learning, to keep them in tune with world standards.
He said with the new normal presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in area of technology assisted learning, teachers in the country must brace up, to compete favourably with their counterparts in other climes.
According to him, while it may difficult for technology to replace teachers, with time, technologically advanced teachers will replace those who are not.
He said TRCN was working with relevant stakeholders to assist teachers gain knowledge in that regard.
“TRCN is looking at ways to support our teachers as they prepare to go back to school.
“We have worked with a global NGO, Teach for Nigeria, to mobilise about 50,000 teachers for a training programme on the new normal.
“The training which was carried out online on May 30, was meant to prepare the teachers to brace up to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Some of them are social psychological issues, pedagogical issues and use of technology.
“Presently we are working with UBEC and other stakeholders before full reopening of schools to organise another workshop on the new normal.
“We want to train the teachers on how to cope because their role will change drastically in the new normal.”
The registrar noted that the training would not be for teachers alone, but learners and their parents.
He further said, “we always said that technology will not replace teachers but teachers who know how to use technology will replace those who do not know how to use it.
“So, a 21st century teacher will have to have a good grasp of technology and that is very important especially with the pandemic.
“It is very clear that face to face teaching will be largely complemented with use of technology. Technology mediated learning is the way to go in today’s world.
“That is why TRCN was emphasising on the digital literacy training programme for teachers.
“We started that programme in 2018 as if we knew a thing like this will come. Although the number of teachers we have been able to reach is still negligible.
Newsmen reports that TRCN, an agency of the Ministry of Education, has the mandate to regulate and control the teaching profession at all levels of education system in public and private sectors.
Section 1(1)(c) of the TRCN Act, 2004, authorises the council to regulate and control the teaching profession in all its aspects and ramifications.
The power extends to prohibiting persons who are not registered with the council from practising the profession.
It also extends to a right to refuse to hire or employ persons who are not registered with the council