The Federal Government yesterday said it needs about 1.3 million teachers in the next six years to close the teaching gap in the basic education sector.
Minister of Education Mallam Adamu Adamu, who stated this at the national flag-off of 2015 Teacher Professional Development (TPD) programme organised by the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) in Abuja,added that there was a wide gap between the number of teachers required and the number available.
The government is already working to recruit 500,000 teachers into the basic education sector across the country.
The minister said the national teachers’ education policy has been revamped by the government in order to strengthen teacher development in the country.
He said: “The flag-off today demonstrates federal government’s commitment towards the advancement of basic education. The foundation of which all other levels of education are laid. Only when this foundation is laid well will qualitative education is achieved at all other levels.
“That is why the National Teachers education policy has been revamped in order to strengthen teacher development in the country. As you know, teacher development through training and retraining is one of the pillars of this administration’s action plan and also forms the basis for which our action plan in the ministry is built.
“In addition to government’s concern for quality teachers, quantity is now also of the essence. There is a wide gap between the numbers of teachers required and the current number available in the basic education sector. The last statistics I read is, in Nigeria, we need about 1.3 million teachers in the next six years.
“That is why in addition to its existing intervention through the agency of the Universal Basic Education Commission, the Federal Government is working to recruit and inject 500,000 teachers into the basic education sector across the country.
“When completed, this will place more responsibility and high expectations on the states and local governments in terms of the roles they will play in providing more teachers, more teaching infrastructures and instruction materials.
The minister stated that the inability of some states to promptly access grants from UBEC had become a concern to the government, adding that government was working on reducing grant requirements so that states could have access to UBEC grants directly.
Adamu therefore appealed to state chairmen of the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) to access the grants for rapid educational development.
“I will therefore appeal to all states governors to direct their state universal basic education board to access and promptly utilize these funds for our rapid educational development. Meanwhile we at the ministry we are doing our best to reduce or do away with the requirements for matching grants so that states can just apply to UBEC and get what is their share,” he said.
Earlier, Imo state governor, Rochas Okorocha, urged the government to extend the programme to all the states in the country.
He said: “We have often talked so much about education year in and year out but we have not talked very less about teachers and there cannot be an education without a teacher. So I think we are doing the right thing now.
“You cannot have a president if you do not have a teacher. You can’t even have a governor if you do not have a teacher. I am here standing today as a governor because someone taught me and If I did not have the opportunity of having someone to teach me, probably I will not be here today.
“Teacher remains the very pivot upon which all the educational activities must reflect. Without a qualified teacher, those entire infrastructures, no matter how beautiful they are will amount to nothing.”
In his address, former Executive Secretary, UBEC, Dikko Suleiman, said the federal government’s drive towards improving basic education in the country had resulted in the building and equipping of additional schools as well as provision of institutional materials.
Suleiman added that N120 million has been released to each state for the 2015 TPD.
He said: “As you are aware, government’s continuous drive towards improving basic education delivery in the country has resulted in the building and equipping of additional schools and classrooms as well as the provision of institutional materials.
“While these are necessary conditions for conducive learning environments in our schools, they are certainly not sufficient to achieve the desired learning outcomes with qualified and competent teachers who are the most important factor in improving pupils and students’ performance.
“Hence government’s allocation of 10 % of the 2% Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) for Teacher Professional Development which guarantees annual fund support to states for capacity building of teachers and education managers across the country.”