The Minister of Education, Adama Adamu,
disclosed last week that the Federal
Government will recruit 1.3 million
teachers in the next six years to address

the shortage of teachers at the basic
education level. Speaking at the flag-off
of the Teacher Development Training
Programme of the Universal Basic
Education Commission (UBEC) in Abuja,
he explained that aside from the quality of
teachers, the government is disturbed
about the dearth of qualified teachers in
the basic education sector.
He pointed out that the availability of
competent teachers and their continuous
training and retraining will be
emphasised to improve basic education in
the country.
Apart from the intervention through UBEC,
Adamu reiterated that government will
also recruit about 500,000 teachers for
the basic education sector nationwide. He
explained that when the exercise is
completed, the government will place
more responsibilities on states and local
councils to provide infrastructural and
instructional materials to the teachers.
We commend the government for
embarking on this ambitious initiative to
improve the quality of teachers and
teaching at the basic education level. This
type of intervention is long overdue. Over
time, the basic education sector has been
neglected in terms of quality staffing,
infrastructure and instructional materials.
In most primary schools, especially those
in rural areas, lessons are conducted in
dilapidated classrooms, with leaking
roofs and decrepit floors. Worse still,
pupils in some schools are taught under
trees in the absence of classrooms.
Apart from the dearth of teachers at the
basic education level nationwide, the
quality of the available teachers is nothing
to write home about. The quality of
teaching in most of these schools is also
better imagined than described. This
sorry state of the nation’s basic education
system partly explains why many parents
prefer to send their children and wards to
private schools, where the quality of
teachers and teaching is sometimes
higher.
Some affluent Nigerians send their
children abroad, even for basic education,
while the less affluent ones send theirs to
neighbouring West African countries such
as Togo, Benin Republic and Ghana,
where they think the quality is higher than
what is obtainable on our shores.
It is good that the government has
decided to rise to the challenge of poor
staffing in our basic schools. We urge it
to match its good intentions with action.
The government should ensure that only
suitably qualified teachers are recruited
for this crucial assignment. It should also
make sure that the exercise is
transparent. It is time we stop paying lip-
service to basic education in the country.
If we fail to get it right at the basic level,
there is, indeed, no guarantee that we
shall get it right at the higher levels. It is
necessary to give our children a sound
educational foundation.
It is, however, one thing to recruit
teachers; it is another to pay them
regularly. Therefore, the government
should ensure that teachers are well
remunerated and paid regularly. The
tragedy of the teaching profession in
Nigeria, at least at the basic level, is the
lack of prestige and enhanced welfare
package. Efforts should be made to make
teaching prestigious and well paying at all
levels.
That is the only way the profession can
attract brilliant minds. If the government
continues to handle issues that concern
teachers with disdain and indifference,
the profession will not be attractive to
young and talented persons. In this
recruitment exercise, the states should be
carried along for maximum impact and
success.

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