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NTI students accuse teachers of irregularities

The teaching profession is growing faster than ever but there is no denying the fact that the challenges facing teacher training are acute. Most of…

The teaching profession is growing faster than ever but there is no denying the fact that the challenges facing teacher training are acute.
Most of the teacher training colleges admit huge number of students but lack sufficient facilities and in some cases qualified tutors to deliver quality education.
One of such institutions is the National Teachers Institute (NTI) established in 1976 to train Grade II teachers. The mandate was to train teachers who are already in the service to upgrade their certificates from time to time.
According to the Kwara State coordinator of NTI, Mrs. Sherifat Apaokagi, the institute had established study centers in different parts of the country to enable students attend lessons without difficulty.
She said the federal government later came up with a policy that says the minimum qualification for teachers in primary schools should be NCE. So, NTI also foresaw the need to upgrade teachers beyond Grade II which led to the introduction of NCE in 1986.  The government later directed the institute to offer Pivotal Teachers Training Programme (PTTP) which was higher than Grade II but not up to NCE. The government sponsored all beneficiaries of the PTTP before it was stopped alongside Grade II in 2006.
"There were calls for reintroduction of PTTP after we stopped it which made us go back to it and we are still running even though we do not have students all over the country but there are some states that have PTTP students like in Kwara here though not many," Apaokagi said.
Despite the merits of NTI courses in Kwara State as claimed by the coordinator, some of the students of the institute explained the challenges facing them and called on government to come to their aid. One student complained of exorbitant charges.
The student, who spoke to Daily Trust, accused some of the trainers at the institute of extortion in spite excessive fees.
"NTI is very good but there is serious need for restructuring of the institute to bring back its lost glory. The institution from my observation has lost excellence as its standard.
"The trainers don’t care whether you are industrious or not once you are able to pay your way through. We pay for almost everything in the school. Other institutions have their shortfalls too, but the issue of bribery in NTI has assumed a worrisome level that needs to be corrected immediately.
"We pay money to get certificate which is not supposed to be. We pay money for tests, assignments and even examination. It does not matter whether you attend lessons or not, once you have money, your case is settled," the student said, adding that the situation was similar in many states.
The student said some institutions that hitherto recognized NTI’s certificate are already aware of the shortcomings of the institute. He said the corrupt practices in the study centres have changed public perception about the institute.
Another challenge facing students of the institute was the failure of the school management to release their modules to them when they need them most; modules are their reading materials.
"Our modules are always given to us very late and we don’t know the reason. In some instances, we get them after our examinations. What majority of us do is to borrow from our seniors to read for our exams. In fact, there was a time we got them on the last day of our exams," a female student complained.
She blamed the late distribution of study materials on one of the officials of the institute who usually delay its distribution even when they arrive from headquarters early.
Daily Trust also discovered that the institute hasn’t built study centers in many states; rather, it uses classrooms in public schools for lessons.
 “Most of the centers have damaged furniture but the institute has administrative offices in all the states,” she said.
Responding, the state coordinator said, "in Kwara State, there is no plan to have a structural building for NTI where training can be carried out in the sense that we have centres spread across the state, so where do we choose to build it if we decide to have one. We have centres in Offa, Kaiama, Okuta, Omun Aran, Ilorin, Patigi, Lafiagi and Jebba but that of Jebba is winding up because we do not have large enrolment in that area like before.
"As far as I am concerned the state government has given us necessary support in the sense that there is nothing we want to use that are not provided for by the state, especially when we go through the ministry of education and SUBEB. In most cases, there is no training we have for teachers in the state that we do not carry them along by monitoring what we are doing to know if it is in line with laid down rules and regulations of the state educational policy because we believe that we are training our students to serve the state. They are with us mostly, so, if we want to supervise examinations and projects, we invite them.
"We use schools in the state as our training centres and where we want to use, we give them our conditions and if the school we have in mind does not meet our requirement, the state will recommend another school for us which is why we do not have problem of training centres."
On the allegation of outrageous charges by trainers in the institute, Apaokagi denied it saying it is not true.
"Our payment has been done online since 2009 and we have been so lenient with our students because their payment is made in installments, and can be paid as many times as it is convenient for them. Even if they want to pay N1,000, we will collect it until they pay everything. Some of them might not have finished paying tuition fee before it is time for project, exam and teaching practice fee. For NCE, they pay N32, 000 school fees payable twice, N6, 000 for each teaching practice which they do twice before graduation; project fee is N6, 000 while others include tuition, examination and so on. Carry over money is not inclusive is the school fee, that would be paid separately because we wouldn’t know who would have carry over. I believed all these fees are what they are complaining of paying too much for," she said.
State Coordinator denied that students pay monies for tests, assignments and examinations and said teachers ensure strict compliance to all laid rules and regulations of the institute.
She said teachers  do not have access to student exam papers; once they finish marking they send them to the headquarters.
‎”I can back it up with everything because I have used different strategies to get my facts. Nothing like that is happening in my centres. Some do not have scores for assignment and test as I am talking to you now. I ‎conducted the first test and students without ID cards were not allowed to write it‎,” she said.
On students modules, she said post graduate students get all their modules at the end of their registration and those who failed to pay for modules will not get them.
It will be recalled that the government had recently removed Dr Aminu Ladan Sharehu as Director General of the institute and replaced him with Professor Garba Dahuwa Azare.
A source said effort was being done to address the causes of myriad problems facing the institute by the new DG.

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