The recent announcement by the federal government of the establishment of Teacher Education Development Funds Account (TEDFA) to provide for teacher education needs in the country is long overdue. Minister of Education Malam Adamu Adamu announced it in Abuja on Wednesday last week at a one-day stakeholders meeting on the implementation of the developed framework of TEDFA. The minister said TEDFA is a pool of funds expected from several sources and dedicated to the execution of Teacher Education Plans (TEDP) covering pre-service and in-service Teacher Education and Continuous Professional Development (CPD) as provided for in the National Education Development Policy.
Adamu who was represented by his permanent secretary Sonny Echono, said TEDFA’s objectives include supporting teachers who wish to deliver effective teaching and learning opportunities in the classroom. “The world that teachers are preparing young people to step in to is changing so rapidly and the teaching skills required are likewise evolving,” he said. He said no initial courses of Teacher Education either from colleges of education or universities can be sufficient to prepare a teacher for a career of 30 or 40 years. He also said, “As the student body continues to change due to demographic issues, there is continuous pressure on teachers not only to have mastery of their subjects but also to understand their students.”
Teacher Education refers to policies and procedures designed to equip prospective teachers with the right knowledge and skills, which they require to effectively perform their tasks in the classroom, school and in the community. The old terminology for Teacher Education is Teacher Training. Teacher Education has a wider scope than Teacher Training for it covers policy thrusts, teacher educators as well as quality control in teaching-learning process.
Teacher Education in Nigeria has over the years suffered neglect from government. Besides mis-formulation of policies, inconsistencies in the policy application occasioned by regular appointment and removal of ministers had severe consequences on the country’s education system. Specific impact of these anomalies includes the generational breeding of poor quality teachers, many of whom are not better than the pupils they teach. For instance, Governor Nasir Ahmed El-Rufai of Kaduna State announced on Tuesday October 10, 2017 that 21,780 out of 33,000 teachers failed the primary four examination administered to test their competence.
Although the blueprint of TEDFA is not public knowledge yet, it is assumed that its implementation strategies will include the repositioning of Teacher Education as provided for in the National Policy on Education (NPE). Section 96 of the current NPE (6th edition, 2014) states that “Teacher Education shall continue to take cognisance of changes in methodology and in the curriculum. Teachers shall be regularly exposed to innovations in the profession.” The crisis of poor quality of trained and certified teachers lies more with the process (i.e. NCE programmes) than it is generally blamed on the products (i.e. teachers). The training received by NCE holders is incompatible with what is expected of them as teachers in the lower and middle levels of basic education. Some graduates of the Special Teachers Upgrading Programme (STUP) organized by the National Teachers’ Institute (NTI) can neither write a letter nor speak correct English. There is need, therefore, to review the curriculum of all Teacher Education programmes.
TEDFA’s mandate should include the re-introduction of Teacher Training Colleges (TTCs). Malam Adamu Adamu had announced in December 2015 that TTCs will be re-introduced. teacher training subjects could also be introduced into junior secondary curriculum so that students could also be selected and streamed into senior secondary classes that offer teacher training subjects at the same time as their colleagues are moving into those that specialize in science, arts or vocational subjects.
Teachers serving in private schools should not be left out of the CPD component of TEDFA. With a well-articulated framework for implementation, it is believed that TEDFA will strengthen Teacher Education in the country which will translate into improved quality in Nigeria’s education system. Being a rescue intervention in one of the country’s critical and strategic sectors, TEDFA is a welcome development.