The Executive Secretary of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), Mr Sonny Echono has said that the Federal Government plan to place students studying education on scholarship and other incentives so as to boost enrollment into the programme and attract best brains into the teaching profession.
Echono said this at a two-day capacity building programme for heads of Colleges of Education (Northern Zone) with the theme, “Enhancing Pedagogical Skills And Curriculum Development For Quality Education Delivery In Nigeria Colleges of Education.”
The TETFund boss decried the dwindling enrollment into educational courses, poor remuneration of teachers and the low perception of the teaching profession in the country as factors keeping the best brains away.
He thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for approving incentives for teachers, saying the target to be paying stipend to students studying educational courses in tertiary institutions would also boost the profession.
“Enrollment in education courses generally has been dwindling and the demand is very low. The remuneration is very poor, the public perception and reputation and everything are very low so nobody wants to go there.
“So when you incentivise like Mr. President has done it will attract people there and we should implement those incentives quickly.
“The first that will attract a lot of students is the fact that the government has said those studying education in our colleges of education as well as in our universities will move quickly to ensure they no longer pay any tuition fee and be placed on automatic scholarships or what we call stipends on a monthly basis.
“That way, a lot of those who even have difficulties in meeting the financial requirements will see it as a variable option and career,” he said.
Echono urged state governments to ensure that only qualified persons were employed into the teaching profession to enhance the quality of teaching and learning.
He expressed worry that most of the teachers recruited across states were not competent enough while stressing the need to reposition the teaching profession in order to attract the best brains.
“In Nigeria today, teaching has become a profession only if you don’t have another option. What is even more painful is the practice of employing fictitious names and teachers who don’t have anything to do in the profession. My message to you is to recommend your profession as a calling.
“It should only attract the best brains, which is the only way to maintain quality. We must give them enough remuneration to keep them in the profession. No country can attain greatness without teachers.”
He said that the country is currently facing the issue of funding that needs to be addressed from the root through birth control.
“If you can slow down the rate at which we are giving birth then you can come and say let us freeze the number of schools that we have or you are going to be creating an army of illiterates who have not been given opportunity to try themselves and in the end they become bigger problems.
“So we must continue to expand access to every child in this country to have opportunity. But I support that we should take a drastic move at a rate we are increasing our population,” he said.
The workshop, organised by the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE) in collaboration with TETfund was aimed at creating programmes that would revive the glory of the NCE programme.