Two months after the Nigeria Examinations Committee (NEC) of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) frowned at a situation where students were being examined on subjects that have no existing teachers or functional laboratories and equipment, a development it affirmed facilitates failure in the tests, another major reason why students flung in external examinations may have been adduced.
According to Associate Professor of Biochemistry and acting Head, Department of Biochemistry, University of Benin (UNIBEN), Dr. Jerry Orhue, teachers have confessed to deliberately avoiding certain topics in the curriculum for want of adequate knowledge of the subject matter.
Orhue, who is also the Executive Director, Genius Illumina- a non-profit and non-governmental organisation with a mission to harness and develop the innate and creative potential of the Nigerian child, was in Lagos as a guest speaker at Doregos Private Academy, Ipaja, Lagos.
The group is also into teacher training and development; school-based science fair, and promotion of girl-child education.
“By virtue of what we do, we have observed that teaching profession has been left mostly in the hands of persons many of whom at best saw it as a last resort or those who could not find placement elsewhere. In my over one decade of close interactions with teachers, I have been privileged to hear true confessions of teachers who deliberately avoid certain topics in the curriculum for want of adequate knowledge of the subject matter,” he said.
As one who has been in the business of teacher training and development, Orhue regretted that Nigeria does not have her best brains in the classrooms as teachers, adding that this was part of the reasons the country’s educational sector was deficient.
He said a situation where teachers score zero in an examination after undergoing series of training meant to reequip them, update their skills and knowledge, points to the fact that the Nigerian education sector needs a total overhaul.
“Before we organise training for them, we first of all, do questionnaire-based surveys to find out the areas in the subjects where, the teachers think that they are deficient before we bring in resource persons who are seasoned in those subjects to train them. We try not to bring in university teachers so they won’t complain that they were handled by professors.
“So, we bring one of them from another school or state who is grounded in the subject; set up a curriculum for them and give them materials for the training, almost all expense paid training. And we examine them by the end of the training conducted by their colleagues and some of them still score zero.
He continued, “With the teacher who is going to teach other children scoring zero, what happens at the end of the day is an ill-equipped teacher delivering poorly prepared products, many of whom are again recycled to train another round of poorly prepared students. So, the vicious cycle continues with its adverse consequence on the general society. People want to deny the fact that the best brains are not in our classrooms, but I can say that again and again, they are not there. The few good heads that were there, never wanted to be there.”
On what happens to such teachers after the examination, he said, “We don’t recommend sack, we recommend them for intensive training. Usually in every state we have coordinators, so we call the coordinators and the sponsors and say this is the result and the performance of your people. Interestingly, in the same examination, you will also see people that will do very well with some even saying they never knew the subject was that simple…”
The university teacher decried a situation, where parents discourage their intelligent children from going into the education-related career or studying education-related courses, stressing that such practice was capable of mortgaging the future of the nation if it continues.
He further urged government and education managers across the country to invest heavily in teacher training and retraining.