The crusade to make teaching a well regulated profession in Nigeria has received greater fillip since Professor Josiah Olusegun Ajiboye assumed office as the registrar of the Teachers Registration Council (TRCN) in August 2016. In this interview with LAOLU HAROLDS, he speaks on some of the progress so far achieved as well as plans and activities of the council.
To date, how many teachers have registered with the Teachers Registration Council?
As at today about 1.5 million teachers have so far registered with the Council. However, the number with licence is rather low. Let me advise our people: that to be licensed as a teacher is a thing of dignity. That means you can practice in any part of the world.
In terms of legislation, is there a constitutional framework to compel anyone involved in teaching to belong to the TRCN? And what is the sanction for practicing without membership?
The Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria was established by Act 31 of 1993, not TRCN Act Cap T3 of 2004, with the mandate to: determine who teachers are, for the purpose of the Act, determine what standards of knowledge and skills are to be attained by persons seeking to become registered as teachers under the Act, and raising the standards from time to time as circumstances may permit.
The Council also has power of enforcement through the Teachers Investigation Panels and Teachers Tribunals to enforce compliance. However, we are still at the level of persuasion, we are gradually moving to enforcement soon.
In Law and accounting professions, there is usually a qualifying examination beyond the university degree. What is the plan of TRCN in this regard?
TRCN is in the process of deploying the Professional Qualifying Examinations. The modules have been developed and we are currently developing the test items. The trial roll-out should come up in the first quarter of 2017.
Recently, there was a pronouncement that soon, everyone teaching (at all levels) without a practising licence will be stopped. How feasible is this, especially considering the tertiary level and the endless mushrooming of private schools?
Both the Honourable Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, and the Minister of State for Education, Professor Anthony Anwukah have completely subscribed to that position. According to the minister, ‘Nobody that is not qualified, registered and licensed by TRCN will be allowed in Nigerian classrooms’. The era of quackery in teaching in Nigeria is over. Nigeria has successfully dealt with quackery in food and drugs; the same war will be waged on quackery in the teaching profession.
Talking about making teaching a profession, what are you doing about regulating the remuneration for teachers? And how do you plan to enforce this?
Teachers’ remuneration is of utmost concern to the Council; but one thing is very clear is that teachers receive similar and comparable pay with their colleagues in the other segments of the civil service. In fact, some take better pay in some states. So, teachers should stop looking down on themselves. Their counterparts in the civil service receive the same pay with them. In fact, in so many states of the federation now, teachers are appointed as Permanent Secretaries!
What kind of professional relationship are you planning to forge with the various teachers training institutions (including the colleges of education and the education faculties in universities)?
Part of the mandate of TRCN is to monitor the quality of teacher education and teacher preparation. We are trying to forge partnership with the National Universities Commission and the National Commission for Colleges of Education to ensure that TRCN forms part of the accreditation processes in the Faculties /Institutes of Education and Colleges of Education respectively. I am sure very soon, there will be an agreement on this.