The passage of a bill re-establishing the Teaching Service Commission (TESCOM) by the Lagos State House of Assembly last Thursday, February 1, 2018 is one of the latest reforms in the Nigerian education sector.
That is based on a proposed law entitled: “Bill for a Law to Provide for the Establishment of the Lagos State Teaching Service Commission for the Control and Management of the Teaching Service Matters and for Connected Purposes”.
The passage of the bill on the floor of the House materialised after the Chairman, House Committee on Education, Honorable Olanrewaju Ogunyemi, presented the stakeholders’ reports on the bill. It now awaits the assent of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode.
A Post-Primary Teaching Service Commission (TESCOM) had existed in the past before it was phased out in 2005. It was replaced with six Education Districts and other offices across the state for ease of administration under the Lagos State Ministry of Education.
The new TESCOM promises some differences in the education sector. EduCeleb.com identifies what this new development implies for post-primary school education in Lagos State.
Implications of the re-establishment of TESCOM in Lagos State
The law ensures that that only professionally qualified teachers are employed to teach in Lagos State. This would mean that this would prevent the infiltration of the teaching profession by unqualified person. In the process, concerns of teachers would be taken seriously as professionals in the field.
Validation of Education Districts
The bill appropriately validated the creation of the six Education Districts in the state. These Education Districts came into existence in 2005 after the Ashiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration scrapped the initial TESCOM under the Education Reform Law. Each of the districts is headed by a Tutor-General/Permanent Secretary (TG/PS).
The Education Reform Law originally established the districts to decentralize power and ensure effective management of post-primary school system. TESCOM does not replace the districts since the bill acknowledges their existence.
Harmonisation of Education Districts
The control of the districts by TESCOM would lead to the harmonization of their activities and operations. Uniformity in guidelines and control of post-primary institutions in the state would bridge the gaps observed in the state educational system after the establishment of the six education districts.
This is expected to strengthen the respective educational institutions and take care of the teaching and non-teaching staff as well as protect members of the commission.
TESCOM controls and shares powers with the Education Districts
Unlike the past when the Education Districts replaced TESCOM, they would now be under the control of the new TESCOM while also sharing its powers. The bill empowers the commission to exercise control over all the education districts by coordinating the management of the districts.
Disciplinary cases of teachers on levels one to six would be handled by the districts while TESCOM handles those of level seven and above. Meanwhile, district heads still report to TESCOM which makes decisions.
Tutor-Generals and Permanent Secretaries to serve under their counterparts
With the above, there is a seeming reduction in the powers of the Education Districts which hitherto decide on disciplining teachers. A TG/PS would now serve under his/her counterparts at TESCOM.
The idea behind creating the Districts gave them some autonomy in decision making. But the TG/PS now has to depend on some officials of a similar position (Permanent Secretary) in the ministry before deciding on matters. This may lead to some friction in power sharing.
Governor decides on board membership
Upon the signing of the bill into law, it is the prerogative of the state governor to determine the membership of TESCOM board members. The board shall consist of five full-time members whose characteristics are not yet public.
There have already been criticisms of the “small number” of board members from some quarters considering the large population of members of and interests in the profession. Perhaps, the governor would exercise his powers to decide if ever more members are needed when the law becomes operational.
Conflicting responsibilities with TEPO
The Teachers’ Establishment and Pensions Office (TEPO) was an immediate replacement for the old TESCOM. The Education Reform Law 2005 established TEPO to handle employment, training and pension matters for teachers. It is represented at the Personnel Management Board Committees of both Junior and Senior Staff in the Education Districts.
The standardization and uniformity the new TESCOM is aimed at instituting is already within the functions of TEPO. Perhaps, that would just get better. Maintenance of personal records of teachers, and ensuring their welfare and training which are part of the roles of the new TESCOM are not alien to TEPO.
Wouldn’t this amount to duplicity of efforts? Wouldn’t there be conflicts in responsibilities? How these conflicts of responsibilities would be resolved is left to the government which instituted TESCOM once again.
Teachers Registration Unit conflicts with TRCN
The bill establishes the Teachers’ Registration Unit to register teachers in the state. But this may conflict with the national role of the Teachers’ Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), which licenses teachers. This conflict would have to be resolved or it would amount to double registration on the part of teachers in Lagos State.
How else do you see the bill affecting the teaching profession? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.