Do away with current model of teacher training, Okebukola advises Buhari

unilag vcIF the incoming administration of Mr. Muhammadu Buhari intends to radically improve the quality of education in Nigeria, and address the rot in the system, former executive secretary of National Universities Commission (NUC), and Chairman of Council of University of West Africa, Prof Peter Okebukola, has advised that the current model of teacher education must make way for another model that would lead to the production of high-quality teachers.

Delivering the 44th convocation lecture of University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka, Lagos recently, Okebukola advised that teacher quality; provision of learner-friendly facilities and curriculum delivery should, as a matter of urgency, be given priority.

According to him, “Our 15 year study has shown that teacher quality accounts for about 22 per cent of the variance of scores on overall quality of the education system. There are too many roadside teachers in Nigeria today, causing great havoc and setbacks in the classrooms across the country.

“Next is to improve the quality and quantity of facilities for teaching and learning at the basic, post-basic and higher education levels. Over 80 per cent of our public basic schools have facilities that are grossly sub-standard. About 65 per cent of our tertiary institutions are saddled with poor facilities. Having found through our research that facilities account for about 18 per cent of the variance in quality scores, paying attention to this variable should be of great interest to Buhari.”

On curriculum delivery, the President of the UNESCO Global University Network for Innovation (GUNI) Africa, said opportunities for practical work and students engagement should be provided to ensure quality-teaching methodology.

He further recommended a reduction in the load of education courses; increase in the total number of units for graduation of education students; extension of duration of teaching practice; avoidance of early specialisation in education programmes; limiting the number of sandwich/part-time students; doubling teacher quantity and providing periodic training in modern methods of teaching.

He said, “It has been found that over 60 per cent of the poor quality teachers in the secondary school system are trained through sandwich/part-time programmes. To improve quality, the number of such candidates admitted into faculties of education should be reduced. There is also an urgent need to double the current rate of teacher production at the basic and higher education levels.

“This is obviously a tall order given the aversion of candidates for certificates, diplomas and degrees in education. However, through a battery of incentives, enrolment into teacher training institutions at all levels can be bolstered,” he stated.

To this end, Okebukola called for the establishment of a licensure system by the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), just as he advised that, “The teacher license should have a maximum life of five years. Renewal should be based on successful completion of a re-certification examination or evidence of in-service training within the five-year period.”

At the 2013/2014 convocation, which climaxes today, 10, 600 students will receive their certificates, from various disciplines in the institution.

Of this number, vice chancellor of the institution, Prof Rahamon Adisa Bello, said a total of 125 students finished in the first class division; 1, 664 with second class, upper division; 2, 827 had second class, lower division; 963 finished with third class; 90 with pass degrees while 167 are going home with unclassified degrees in medicine and pharmacy.

Bello who said the institution has continued to witness tremendous academic and infrastructural growth, urged well meaning Nigerians and corporate bodies to assist UNILAG in the area of accommodation.

“We are contending with serious shortage of accommodation for both students and staff. We have a full-time student population of about 35, 000, while only 8, 500 bed spaces are available. Efforts are being concentrated on expanding these. We are embarking on a 1, 000-bed space hostel currently. But this is a far cry from the need. We need intervention of good spirited Nigerians and organisations.”

Still during the grand finale of the convocation ceremony, Lt. General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma (rtd); Deacon Gamaliel Oforitsenere Onosode and Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye, will be conferred with honourary degrees for their immense contribution to educational growth and human development.

Three retired professors of the institution, profs Olayide Mojeed Abass, Francis Fajemirokun and Soga Sofola will also be conferred with emeritus professorship of the university.

Mr. Akinpelumi Korede of the Department of Chemical Engineering, emerged the best graduating students with a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 4.96

At the postgraduate level, Akpan Emmanuel Isaac, emerged the best doctorate student with his thesis, “Processing and Characterisation of Selected Biodegradable Fibre-PLA Composites.”

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