Gauging Feasibility Of Five Hundred Thousand Teachers Recruitment Exercise | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Gauging Feasibility Of Five Hundred Thousand Teachers Recruitment Exercise

Posted: Feb 11, 2016 at 2:36 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Innocent Oweh


Like most third world countries, Nigeria is believed to lead the pack of nations where good policies are never in short supply. From the First Republic, spanning several decades to the present administration, successive governments have churned out numerous policies with great prospects of turning around the fortunes of the citizens for good.

It therefore leaves many wondering why there has been less development particularly in terms of  gross domestic growth and other social economic variables.
When recently President Muhammadu Buhari presented the 2016 Appropriation Bill to the National Assembly, projecting a total fiscal expenditure of N6.08trillion, one aspect that caught the attention of Nigerians was the area where he announced a job creation plan of 500,000 teaching personnel to bridge existing gaps in the basic education sub-sector.
While many view the plan as a welcome development, considering the soaring statistics of young graduates that are yet to be gainfully employed, the president’s pronouncement indeed brought a ray of hope for many that there would be jobs at least to keep body and soul together.
Surprisingly, how the programme should be implemented has become the bone of contention and controversy among stakeholders.
For instance, members of the Nigeria Union of Teachers(NUT) are not favourably disposed to the policy, not because the policy is bad in itself but that Government might compromise the exercise.
NUT’s position is hinged on allegations that politicians in their usual character could use it as ‘bait’ to settle political cronies, especially those instrumental to the success of the ruling parties in the various states across the federation.
NUT and its leadership are also skeptical that the exercise could bring in people who are not trained for the teaching profession, a situation that may further compound the problem of poor quality teaching personnel in the schools.
According to the General Secretary of the NUT, Ikpe Obong, the policy could succeed marginally, if the Federal Government insists on accommodating professional teachers – graduate teachers and NCE holders and not quacks or personnel who have not been duly trained as teachers no matter their qualifications.
“NUT will support the Federal Government in the actualization of this policy but wishes to caution the government against the temptation of using this policy as a means of compensation for political patronage as it was the practice in the past.
“Government must equally be ready to take the bull by the horn by driving this process to a conclusive level without being torpedoed by the usual slogan of “zero allocation to local government councils” which was most often used to prevent recruitment of teachers to the basic schools”, Obong had said during a recent public function.
The 2016 budget proposal and its passage has continued to suffer setbacks in the chambers of the National Assembly, which will obviously delay the planned recruitment of teachers.
One pointer which gives the Federal Government away as being confused on how to go about the implementation of the project was recently encapsulated in the statement credited to the Minister of State for Education, Professor Anthony Anwukah.
At a forum in Abuja to inaugurate members of the committee to steer the recruitment exercise, Professor Anwukah estimated that approximately N240billion would be required by government to settle the remuneration of the teachers for one year alone.
He noted that if a single teacher should gets an average of N40,000 per month, multiplied by twelve months in a year, it would amount to N480,000 per annum, then multiplied by 500,000 teachers which will in turn run into several billions of naira.
He added subtly that government was at a crossroad where to source such funds from given the prevalent economic downturn in the country.
Again,there seems to be a major confusion as to whether the project should be owned solely by the federal or state governments.
Another hard nut which the committee must find a way to crack is the issue of how to identify these 500,000 potential teachers?
Before now, there has always been paucity of data to guard government in carrying out its functions effectively.
Thirdly, government is at a dilemma whether to source for the 500,000 teachers out of the already trained but unemployed NCE graduate teachers or take other measures, bearing in mind the huge burden of training graduates from other disciplines to fit into the teaching profession.
In a rhetorical manner, Anwukah asked the committee members,”How will they(teachers) be distributed to the states, is it on the equality of states or will it be based on the justified needs of the states? What would be the role of the states in funding and supervision of the project?
How sustainable would the project be, is it going to be a one stop affair or annual and continuous, what would be the name of this project, is it basic education course?
Who owns this project, the Federal Government or the States, in that wise what is going to be the possible interplay of a result of the fact of education being on the concurrent list?
The untrained graduates who have not be trained in education, what would be the plan of training them to be qualified teachers? Are we going to advertise and apply and we give them provisional employment subject to their obtaining teaching qualification and how long will that be? If we place a moratorium and then after giving them provisional appointment, do we say six months or one year you must have to obtain teaching qualification before your appointment is ratified?.
How do we spell out the nature and duration of remedial and other refresher courses the selected trainee-teachers will need to go through and to determine the viability, feasibility of the proposal in the first instance?
Perhaps we need to calculate the cost of the entire project and to take other measures that will in the judgment of the committee aid in the achievement of this objective.
In all this confusion, the Ministry of Labour and Employment now presided over by Senator Chris Ngige, which ought to spearhead the task of recruiting the teachers lacks the basic idea of how to execute the plan.
The matter is also compounded by low revenue accruing from the primary revenue source of the nation – the crude oil at the international market.
Only recently, rumours of commencement of the recruitment exercise by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment went viral on the social media, forcing thousands of helpless youths in search for jobs to besiege the premises of the ministry in Abuja.
Be that as it may, many observers following the trends in our polity would agree that the starting point for government to actualize this dream would be to get accurate data of graduates that are unemployed.
Secondly, they strongly hold the view that graduates from other disciplines like Engineering, Computer Science, Mass Communication among others, if they are to be deployed to teaching, must first be subjected to a system of gauging their passion for the job, to avoid instances where poorly motivated persons would be brought in to take up teaching jobs, thereby creating additional problems for the system.