The Minster of Education, Ibrahim Shekarau, has said plans are afoot to make bachelor’s degree the minimum teaching qualification in Nigeria.
Speaking when the Finland Ambassador to Nigeria, Pirjo Suomela-Chowdhury, visited him, Mr. Shekarau said the Federal Government would explore all measures to restore the respect, dignity and status of teachers in Nigeria.
Mr. Suomela-Chowdhury disclosed that teachers in Finland have a minimum of master’s degree. He also said the profession is highly competitive in his country because of a huge interest from too many qualified people.
Mr. Shekarau said from 1980 the minimum teaching qualification to teach in schools was National Certificate in Education but this could be upped to first degree soon.
He said, currently, there were a number of graduates teaching in primary schools in Nigeria.
He said Nigeria was able to get over the practice in the past, where primary school leavers were engaged to teach.
He recalled how the level was raised to Teacher Grade 3 in the sixties and later, in the early seventies, it was a minimum of Grade 2 but this was later phased out in the eighties to a minimum of NCE.
“Gradually we will get there. We hope that a day will come when all our schools including pre-primary will be handled by university graduates. We have a lot to learn from each other regardless of the factor of the size. The challenges are the same,” he said.
He said apart from the general agenda of government for improving access and quality of education, his particular concern as Minister of Education is to improve the quality of teachers.
“We must continuously increase the number of teachers, improve the quality of teachers, improve the condition of teacher training institutions and continuously review the curriculum of teacher education to make sure it catch up with the challenges; address the issues of teachers’ welfare and job security,” he said.
He said the federal government would soon come up with a proposal to encourage special scholarship awards by all tiers of government to students from secondary schools who want to study education in universities and teacher training institutions.
Mr. Shekarau said the respect and dignity accorded teachers in the past have been lost over time as a result of neglect.
He stated that the Federal Government would soon call for a national teachers’ summit to discuss how to raise the quality of teachers in Nigeria.
He noted that no nation could rise above the level of quality of its education system, saying teachers must be the key driving force of the sector.
Mr. Shekarau also disclosed that there have been remarkable improvement in budgetary allocation to the education sector in line with the transformation agenda of the current administration.