President Muhammadu Buhari’s quest to provide 500,000 unemployed
Nigerian graduates jobs in the teaching profession, has attracted manifold
reactions from stakeholders in the education sector. While a school of
thought views it as a good policy thrust on tackling unemployment among
youths, it is, however, perceived by many as a bid to solve one problem,
which may lead to creating more in the process.
recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had recently stated that 500,000
unemployed graduates will be absorbed into the teaching profession to solve,
in the interim, the problem of graduate unemployment in the country.
Apart from the reality that many square pegs will end up in round holes,
stakeholders are also asking who will be responsible for the 500,000
teachers' salaries, as the states and local governments over the years have
had the responsibility of paying teachers' salaries.
In her reaction, the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academics) University of Calabar
and immediate past Dean, Faculty of Education, Professor Florence Banku-
Obi applauded the Federal Government's decision to create jobs, but added:
"If the Federal Government is thinking of creating those jobs in the education
sector by employing and sending them to the classroom, it is a move in the
According to her, sending these graduates to the classroom will rather bring
in more confusion into the education sector, warning that it is going to be a
wrong step to send these untrained teachers into the classrooms.
To her, many of the said graduates are not trained teachers, and many,
especially the younger generation don’t want to teach because they have no
interest in teaching. She said: ''Employing them will just be a means of
earning a living because they have no passion for teaching."
Alternatively, the DVC disclosed that rather than the government sending
them to the classrooms, they can focus on industrialization and other
"Government can expand agriculture where they need little or no skills to
make returns. Yes, I know, there are people who are trained agriculturists,
but that is the essence of extension workers. If you are going into agriculture
and have no basic knowledge, then you need extension workers to groom
Stressing the need for each state auditing of unemployed teachers for
efficiency, Banku-Obi pointed out that there are still thousands of Nigerian
youths who read education but are not employed.
She urged the Federal Government to task each state to do auditing for
efficiency. She said: ‘’Each state has thousands of unemployed trained
teachers seeking teaching jobs, they can be engaged and sent to classrooms,
while government creates opportunities for the non-teaching graduates in
She noted that the same Federal Government which owns the Federal
Government Teaching Scheme, employs NCE teachers for one or two years
and disengages them. Rather than disengage them, she counselled that they
should review the policy and make it permanent.
The professor maintained that many NCE graduates who were employed
under that scheme, taught for one or two years and were sent back to the
Banku-Obi who lamented the policy somersaults in the sector said: "The
confusion and the problems we have in the sector is as a result of policy
inconsistency of the Federal Government. 'We don’t have educators piloting
the affairs of the Ministry of Education, like what we have in health and
justice. ''It is high time the Federal Government began to think seriously of
employing round pegs in round holes by getting professional educators to
man the Ministry of Education.
"Today, we think we are getting to the right direction, tomorrow another
minister comes who does not have an idea of what education and teaching is
all about comes with another policy. Now, the new man thinks he is doing
Nigeria good by sending unemployed graduates to the teaching profession,
they are not thinking of the effect on the sector.
"Already, employers are complaining that we have graduates that are
unemployable and the Federal Government is sending these same graduates
to the teaching profession.
‘’What are you expecting to get from the system? It will be garbage in,
garbage out. They are going to feed the tertiary institutions with poor
students. At the end, the tertiary institutions will not be able to perform any
magic on the undergraduates. I think we should have a good policy.
‘’If possible, government should have another education summit where
people will come and discuss this issue. Unfortunately, when Ministry of
Education calls for Education Summits, they bring in directors of different
fields, staff from different ministries, professionals from different fields, they
will never bring in educationists to talk about education.
‘’They see education summit as an avenue of making their own money. I
strongly suggest that there should be a proper education summit and state
auditing of teachers. Let them verify if they can get the numbers of teachers
they are looking for from the states for the teaching profession. After this,
they should engage the services of the Teachers Registration Council to set
up aptitude tests and see those who are qualified and have a passion for the
teaching profession before engaging them. The body should organize one or
two months training for them before engaging them.
Speaking in the same vein, Deputy Director, Distance Learning Institute,
University of Ibadan, Professor Oyesoji Aremu also applauded the initiative of
the Federal Government to employ the 500,000 unemployed graduates, but
however expresses some reservations.
He said: ‘’It is a welcome development given the paucity of teaching
manpower generally in the school system (primary and secondary education).
According to him, some cautionary notes should however, be sounded in the
interest of pupils/students and education for part of the existing malady in
the education sector not to repeat itself.
He, however frowned at employing wrong personnel (who masquerade as
teachers) into the school system.
His words: "'Mostly in many public schools (primary and secondary), the
teaching force is populated by untrained teachers. This, with proven evidence,
has contributed not only to the decline of standards in public schools but
also poor academic performance as shown by West African Examination
Council (WAEC) and National Examination Council’s (NECO) results, where
national performance norm is terribly below average. It has always made
public schools unfashionable for many parents who prefer fee-paying private
schools for their wards."
Prof. Aremu added: ‘’With these cautionary notes, it is instructive to advise
the Federal Government not to make the employment of 500,000 teachers an
all-comers affair. One, it should be phased by first considering graduates of
universities and colleges of education who studied education or who have
had postgraduate diplomas in education, irrespective of their first degrees or
Higher National Diploma certificates.
"The second phase is to consider others who are without certification in
education pedagogy. This category of unemployed youths should be exposed
to a stop-in-the-gap abridged training in education and should also be made
to go through a mock teaching practice. This could be for a month and with a
condition that such people be made to go for postgraduate diplomas in
education on Open Distance Learning platform.
Aremu further advised; ‘’Logistics of stop-in-the-gap training should also be
worked out by the Federal Ministries of Education and Labour in conjunction
with state ministries and zonal offices. Lastly, the recruitment should pass
integrity test so as not to be hijacked by politicians.’’
Also reacting, the Dean, School of Education, Adeniran Ogunsayan College of
Education, Ijanikin, Dr. Deborah Delegiwa urged the Federal Government to
reconsider its proposed plan. According to her, the decision to recruit
graduates without training as teachers will spell doom for the sector, stating
that teaching is an art, not a mere vocation.
She said:”Teaching is an art that requires a person to acquire basic and
necessary knowledge before being qualified. If one then desires to go into
teaching without being trained, it connotes disrespect of the teaching
profession. The action also suggests that the colleges and faculties of
education should cease to exist.”
On his part, the Head of Department, Early Childhood Care and Education,
AOCOED, Mr Sunday Fowowe, stated that the decision of the President on
recruiting graduates with no formal education as teachers amounts to
passing no vote of confidence on Teachers ‘Education.
Said he: “No matter how brilliant an individual is, he may not be able to do
well in class if he is not made to pass through teacher training programme.
‘’The President’s pronouncement is like passing vote of no confidence on
teachers’ education, hence, all colleges and faculties of education should be
scrapped.”added Mr Fowowe.
If you are considering 500,000 graduates into the teaching sector, they should
be tested and trusted.
“Those who have been trained for three years in colleges of education or four
years in faculties of education are the ones saddled with the sole
responsibility of teaching because, they have been equipped with innovative
and basic skills.