The inability of a female primary school teacher in Edo State to read her age declaration affidavit during a screening exercise by the state government shows the incompetence of educators in primary schools.
The reading incompetence of a primary school teacher in Edo State, Mrs. Augusta Odemwinge, during a recent screening of 1,300 teachers in the state has further exposed the lack of adequate teaching skills by educators in the nation’s primary school education.
The screening, which went viral on the Internet, showed how the state Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, listened attentively to the teacher as she battled in futility to read her court affidavit she tendered as part of her credentials. By the time it was clear that the teacher could not read, the fate of the pupils she had taught in her 20 years of teaching became a crucial discourse.
Oshiomhole, who was disappointed by the teacher’s lack-lustre performance, said to her, ‘‘If you cannot read, what then will you teach pupils; what do you write on the board?’’
Edo State is not the only state in the country where such rot exists in primary education. Before the Edo drama, Kaduna State was in the news for a similar reason. The state Commissioner for Education, Mr. Usman Mohammed, said at an interactive session that 1,300 out of 1,599 teachers in the state failed simple arithmetic and basic literacy tests.
Mohammed noted that the tests were initially meant for primary four pupils.
The development thus brought to the fore the type of teaching in the primary school system when educators cannot pass an examination meant for their pupils.
‘‘Only one of them scored 75 per cent; 250 scored between 50 and 75 per cent and 1, 300 scored below 25 per cent,’’ Mohammed said.
Similarly in Kwara State, about 259 teachers including university graduates, in 2008 failed a test meant for primary four pupils. The decay in the nation’s primary school education was further enlarged when teachers in public secondary schools in Ekiti State in 2012 embarked on an indefinite strike against a Teachers’ Development Need Assessment announced by the state government for the over 16,000 teachers in the state. The teachers intended to use the strike as a weapon to make the government rescind its plan to test their competence.
Speaking on the competence level of primary school teachers, former Dean, Faculty of Education, Lagos State University, Prof. Ademola Onifade, described the situation as unfortunate.
The don said since primary education marks the footing for national education, there should be much work therein. He further added that teachers in primary schools were not skilled as they should.
Onifade stated, ‘‘We are not doing a good job at that level of education. The infrastructure is bad. In some of our primary schools, pupils sit on the ground. Teachers are not motivated. How do you want pupils to learn when the teachers are not also motivated?’’
He also lamented that the development had resulted in ‘garbage in, garbage out’ because those poorly trained in primary schools, move into secondary level and end up in the university.
‘‘It is a vicious cycle. Government needs to fund primary education properly and invest in teacher training. The teachers also need to be motivated so that they can give their best. There is no short cut to having the best in that level of education. In fact, we will be deceiving ourselves if we fail to fund public education properly,” he said.
Likewise, a development educationist, Mr. Peter Ogudoro, said it was not surprising that some of the teachers in the nation’s education system could not be trusted to deliver the right knowledge and values to pupils and students.
He added that a faulty recruitment method, initiated by favouritism, was one of the reasons for the trend.
According to him, some of the teachers got the jobs through god-fathers and their affiliation with some power brokers.
He said, ‘‘Policy-makers and those who implement it need to be trained. When you get the best teachers and you do not train them, you should not expect that they will continue to deliver at a level that they will give you a future. If a person teaching you is ignorant, you cannot be better than he or she. How come the quality of secondary school pupils is very low? It is because most of them did not get the right background in primary school. Some of them engage in examination malpractice and get into the university. You will find out that they lack the basic knowledge and skills that will enable them to benefit optimally from university education.’’
Ogudoro said since primary school serves as the foundation for a good education, it would be futile constructing anything meaningful on such base if it was initially shaky. He stated that the way out was to check recruitment process into primary schools by employing only competent teachers.
‘‘In a place like Finland, you will need a Master’s degree to be able to teach even in the primary school level. If an individual gets a good education at the primary education, even if such a person is not opportune to go to secondary school, he or she can learn a lot of things by himself. We should watch the recruitment process into primary education, train the teachers and ensure they receive good remuneration,” Ogudoro stated.
In the same vein, another educationist, Dr. Ademola Azeez, said the best brains would not be found in the education system whenever education was made a subsidiary profession or second-fiddle.
Noting that education had become politicised, he added that it was necessary for state and federal governments to get the best teachers for schools since education was on the concurrent list.
Azeez said, ‘‘In teacher-training colleges, one can get quality teachers. But since they no longer exist, the best teachers can be got from the colleges of education or faculties of education in universities where you can tell the provost or vice-chancellor to identify their best students for employment purposes.’’
According to him, before one can get the best from a teacher, one needs to invest the best in the system.
He also stated that anybody who desires to impart knowledge should be in possession of quality knowledge too.
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