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Despite outcry over low admission rate, data shows COEs fail to admit 10% of quota

Teaching is an unsung profession in Nigeria. This is because teachers being professionals who teach children to become what they dream of their professions of…

Teaching is an unsung profession in Nigeria. This is because teachers being professionals who teach children to become what they dream of their professions of choice are hardly seen, heard, recognised or rewarded.

In the past, a teacher was one of the most respected persons, as no vital decision was taken in communities without their presence. But presently, the status of the teaching profession and teachers in the country has declined and become a thing of concern, as no student wants to become a teacher; neither do they see their teachers as role models. The situation has so degenerated that the choice of teaching as a profession has become the last resort for many job seekers.

Today, the tertiary institutions, especially universities and Colleges of Education (COEs) in Nigeria, are challenged by low enrollment rate of students willing to study education courses.

Data obtained from a presentation, tagged: “Low Enrolment in NCE-Awarding Institutions in Nigeria”, by the Public Communications Advisor of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Dr Fabian Benjamin, showed that application into NCE programmes are usually the lowest.

The breakdown of the data showed that from 2019 to 2023 only 211,201 applications were recorded for admission into COEs, universities and polytechnics that are running education programmes, but only 198,798 were eventually admitted.

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A further breakdown showed that in 2019, 34.138 candidates applied for NCE programmes but 71,188 were admitted, indicating that candidates without interest in education were eventually admitted.

In 2020, 80,355 applications were recorded but 49,678 candidates were admitted, meaning about 40 per cent didn’t go through with the process, while in 2021, only 15,746 applications were recorded but 30,731candidates were admitted, showing that candidates without interest in education were eventually admitted.

For 2022, 52,627 candidates applied for the programmes but only 35,466 were admitted, and in 2023, 28,335 applications were recorded while only 11,735 candidates were eventually admitted.

The admissions summary showed that in 2021 a total of 494,088 admissions were recorded but only 30,731 (6.22 per cent) were admitted for NCE, in 2022, 684,111 were admitted but only 35,466 were for NCE and in 2023 474,765  admissions were recorded but only 11,735 (2.47 per cent) were for NCE.

NCE admissions by quota showed that in 2021, out of the 454,700 quota, only 30,731 (6.75 per cent) were admitted, in 2022, which had a 469,125 quota, only 35,466 (7.56 per cent) were admitted, while in 2023, out of the 472,200 quota, only 11,735 (2.49 per cent) were admitted, meaning that despite the cry for access into tertiary education NCE failed to meet its quota in the years under review.

While presenting the data, Dr Benjamin noted that against the backdrop that there was no space to admit students, admission into COEs failed to meet its quota in terms of applications within the year under review.

He said the cut off marks in admission into tertiary institutions, especially into COEs, were low because of the issue of demand, noting that if the marks were pegged high, there was a possibility of many institutions closing down because they would not have students to admit.

Going by the data, he said the type of persons found in the teaching profession were those who were convinced that teaching was their calling and that they could best serve their country in the capacity and those who chose teaching and found satisfaction in it as compared to other occupations.

Others, according to him, are persons who cannot make good elsewhere but because they have the minimum academic qualification required to join the teaching profession required join for necessity rather than from choice and those who have been to secondary schools but have been disqualified from further higher education for poor academic records or lack of parental ability to continue sponsoring their education.

Why there is low enrolment

There is no doubt that there is dissatisfaction in the profession related to poor remuneration, poor working environment, lack of quality learning materials, little or no on-the-job training, among others, as compared to other professions.

The crisis in teaching and teachers’ education in the country has raised concerns on the quality of teachers and quality of learning and the output of the students in schools, as well as the relevance of the teachers’ education programme.

An Education Specialist and Teacher, Dr Smith Bam said the issue of low enrolment in education is as old as the system.

Speaking at a workshop organised by the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN) recently, tagged, “A Practical Approach to Teacher Education: Challenges of Low Students Enrolment in Tertiary Institutions in Nigeria”, Dr Bam said, “Now, an average teacher finds teaching as a misfortune. We call it a noble profession, but in reality it is a pitiable profession. As long as children don’t find role models in teaching, the enrolment will remain low”, noting that until teachers got their compensation elevated to that of doctors, enrolment would remain low.

He lamented that teaching had been made an all-comers job as people who could not find their feet in their desired places made do with teaching.

Dr Benjamin also said disparity in the reward system, prescription of uniform qualification for tertiary education, lack of incentives, professionalism and good conditions of service were reasons for low enrolment into NCE programmes.

He said, “A first class graduate in science education who secures the best federal government teaching job in Nigeria earns between N68,000 and N78,000 per month (Salary Grade Level 8 or 9) and after 15 years of graduation, would at best, be on a monthly salary of a maximum of N175,000 (Grade Level 15).

“A medical doctor who spent six years in the university earns in his first year of work (internship) a minimum of N140,000 in a month. Three years later in service, earns between the range of N250,000 and N300,000 per month (CONMESS 03). This is more than what his teacher counterpart would be entitled to in the latter’s 20th year in the same federal public service.”

Another educationist, Michael Sule, said the reason for the poor enrolment into the teaching profession was because most teachers today were found at the lowest status in the society and that there was nothing attractive about their lives, hence that no one would desire to be in that shoes.

He said, “No students or parents will want to be in a profession where you struggle to fit into the society because of poor pay when there are other professions that command respect. In time to come if nothing is done we may not find even less than 10 per cent to admit.”

Way forward

The Registrar of TRCN, Prof Josiah Ajiboye, who was represented by a Director in the council, Abimbola Okunola, said, “There is no doubt that teacher education needs a practical approach to achieve its goal, and the issue of enrolment in higher institutions, most especially in the faculties of education, calls for concern.

“The educational needs and policy formulation, most especially at this crucial period when education is going through a vista of challenges, policy formulation should emphasise critical thinking, problem solving techniques, creativity, imagination, digital literacy and remote learning.”

The education specialist, Dr Bam asked the federal government to elevate the compensation of teachers and return autonomy to them like doctors in order to boost enrolment of more people into education courses in the tertiary institutions.

He said the yardstick for being a teacher in Nigeria should be increased and the parametre made high.

Dr Bam noted that teachers had been taken for granted for too long because their autonomy was taken away from them and that they were not allowed to do what they were paid to do.

He said, “It is okay if the government gives us the curriculum but allows us to micromanage it. You do not certify a doctor and tell him how to do his work, but teachers are asked to do things in a certain way and follow curriculums that are archaic and irrelevant to today’s realities. Teachers are humiliated and some parents even beat teachers in the presence of their children. Have you seen a doctor beaten for doing his job?

“We need to revamp the curriculum so that it can be relatable. Teachers graduate and are 20 years behind because the curriculum is archaic and useless, students are contesting the curriculum because they do not tally with reality.”

For Dr Benjamin, the NCE syllabus remains relevant and appropriate for teaching at the basic education level and that it should not be eliminated or replaced with a degree.

He said, “There is a need to realistically review the minimum entry requirement into the NCE programme to arrest high levels of forgery and falsification of results and that the government should look into creating more incentives for teachers in the form of robust salary structures and other welfare packages.

He further said TRCN should continue to licence (not certification), admit and set professional standards into the teaching profession while the NCCE metamorphosed into the National Teachers Commission (NTC), which should supervise and regulate the National Teachers’ Institute and COEs.

He advised that, “Government should look into creating more incentives for teachers in form of robust salary structures and other welfare packages.”



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