Teachers training colleges are back – at least in Niger State where 274 students have been enrolled into a new institute that will prepare them for the teaching profession at no cost to them, reports JUSTINA ASISHANA from Minna.
The falling quality of education in public schools across the country is a source of concern to parents and governments, especially with the poor performance of pupils at primary and secondary school levels.
This has been attributed to poor teaching skills and poor interactions between teachers and their learners.
The quality of teacher training has also been called to question, especially as the profession, for many years, attracted mostly those who could not get into other programmes or get jobs elsewhere.
To address these problems, the Niger State government has set up a Teacher Professional Development Institute to train a new generation of teachers and revitalise education in the state.
The institute is supposed to have centres in each of the senatorial districts of the state, but because of the urgency to start the programme, only the centre in Mararanba Dandaudu in Shiroro Local Government Area has begun the academic session.
The institute will train pupils in the latter part of their secondary education (SS1 to SS3), orientate and groom them to pursue teaching as a profession. They will be taught the normal senior secondary education curriculum in addition to subjects that will make them better teachers.
The facility has well-ventilated classrooms, state-of-the-art computer, chemistry, biology, food and nutrition laboratories, dining hall, library, sick bay, sports arena and hostels for male and female students.
The hostels have each room fitted with double bunk beds to accommodate 12 students. They also have libraries as well as toilet facilities.
To encourage the students, the government is providing everything, from tuition, feeding, uniforms, beddings, cutleries up to toiletries, such as detergent, bathing soap and toothpaste free-of-charge. At the end of each term, they will be transported to their localities at no cost.
To further encourage them to take up teaching, the government has announced full scholarship to any of the students who chooses to study education at the tertiary level.
Chairperson of the institute Hajiya Dije Bala told The Nation that the government was determined to arrest the rot in the education sector, hence, the investment in the institute.
“We all know that the standard of education is nothing to write home about. The performance of students in schools does not gladden the heart of any parent or government, particularly children at the primary and secondary school levels. That is why the state government felt it has to do something about it. The next generation must not be this way.”
She said the institute in Mararanba Dandaudu would kick off with 274 students selected from the 274 wards in the state. She added that when other centres opened in the other zones, the population would reduce.
“The other zones have not started yet and because of some constraints, time and space, all the 274 students are resuming in Mararanba Dandaudu. Next year when all of the centres would have taken off, this large population would reduce.”
Hajia Bala was confident that graduates of the institute would fare better than their contemporaries when they eventually gain admission into tertiary institutions.
“We are grooming these students to take up teaching as a profession. Along with the curriculum, they would be taught additional subjects that will make them better teachers. If after their education here, they decided to take up education in tertiary institutions, they would be better than any other person who did not take up this training.”
The administrator said teachers that would teach the students were among the best and would be appraised according to how well their students perform.
“The institute has selected the best of teachers who have gone through tests and examinations. These teachers will not be judged by the result of the whole school but by the result of the students they are teaching. If the students are not doing well, it shows that the teachers are not capable of handling the students and they will be shown the way out.
“To ensure this is implemented, we are working on a situation whereby the teacher teaches the child, sets his examination and someone else would mark the scripts. So, there will not be any favouritism. We have put this in place to ensure that this institute comes out best in relation to improving the quality of upcoming teachers.”
The take-off of the institute cost the Niger State government over N200 million – excluding the over N20 million for the upkeep of the students each term.
The government has approved N1.5 billion for the entire project of the Niger State Teacher Professional Development Institute.
To aid sustainability, Hajia Bala said a bill would soon be sent to the House of Assembly that would mandate each LGA to contribute a monthly token for the upkeep of the institute. She added that sustainability would be the collective effort of the state and the LGAs.
An educationist in the Niger State College of Education, Dr. Shehu Bala, lauded the project, especially as the institute is collaborating with the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), adding that it would be great if all students eventually chose to be teachers as the foundational training in teaching would be useful.
Former Vice Chancellor of the Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida University Lapai (IBBUL) Prof Ibrahim Kolo said the institute was designed after the old teachers training colleges that used to exist before the Grade II Teaching Certificate was scrapped. He expressed optimism that the students would take up teaching after their schooling.
“The students would be given free scholarship should they decide to take up education as their course in their various tertiary institutions they may decide to go to. If after all that government is offering to them, a person will not be tempted into the teaching profession, then there is something wrong,” he said.
One of the students, Abdulbasat Sanni from Suleja LGA, expressed joy that he was selected to represent his ward. He said he was selected because he topped in an entrance examination set by the institute.
“I promise my parents, traditional rulers and community that I will not forget the sacrifice they made to ensure I got admission into the institute. I will work hard and get good results,” he said.
Another student, Hajara Garba said she became interested when she heard about the institute and she counted herself lucky when she was chosen as the representative of her ward.
“I am interested in becoming a teacher all the way. I appreciate the state and local government for setting up the institute,” she said.
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