Whenever a few of those claiming to be teachers are told that the Teachers’ Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN) licence is a requirement for them to be legally called a teacher, they would give various irrelevant excuses of why they would not comply.
I don’t ordinarily expect a school owner to join these set of naysayers but some are also in the fray. Let’s blame the quality assurance officers in various ministries of education for giving them the platform to operate illegally.
Some don’t even know that the TRCN isn’t a unionist association. They talk about it as if it were something equated to the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) or the Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools (ASUSS).
It is a legal provision for anyone to be called a teacher in Nigeria. You cannot be regarded a teacher without a TRCN licence, according to the TRCN Act.
This law has been in existence since 1993. Anyone who studied education for, at least, an NCE or B Ed should know this basic fact. It is just unfortunate that successive governments failed to implement it.
That doesn’t legitimise the claim to being teachers made by those who should not ordinarily be in a profession that prepares people for other professions.
Teaching is a profession. Beyond academic training, it has a regulatory body, the TRCN, that sets standards for entrants into it like every other profession does. Ask those who studied medicine, pharmacy, engineering or financial accounting whether they are not also subject to professional regulations.
Ordinarily, the Professional Qualifying Examination (PQE) conducted by the TRCN for those who started teaching without its licence is written while they were in school. That is the case since the professional body liaises with deans of education in universities and provosts of colleges of education to ensure uniformity in the content of teacher education institutions.
Some people see the TRCN licence as merely an avenue for government to make money. That is mischievous of persons who would also add their voices to clamours for the improvement of the quality of education. The National Policy on Education states clearly that Nigeria cannot rise above the quality of its teachers.
By the way, the amount payable is somehow the least compared with what other professional regulatory bodies charge their members. Anyone familiar with results of the PQE since 2017 would know that up to 30% of those who wrote it don’t have basic knowledge of why they’re teachers in the first place going by their failure to score up to 50%.
The requirement of licence renewal isn’t strange to other professions either. Across other professions, there is a time for professionals to renew their licences. We shouldn’t expect anything lesser from the noble teaching profession.
The excuse of access to information should not apply to a supposed teacher either. You should ordinarily be up-to-date, if at all you are to be relevant and innovative in your classroom. You have the internet, your radio or television where the case for professionalism had been made by the TRCN over the years. That is to assume that you paid no attention while in school.
This year alone, the TRCN decided to conduct two additional PQE diets in November and December. It holds the exams in May and October. Its offices are still open during official hours just as its website remains active for whoever wants to register today.
The issue of salary increment isn’t an excuse for anyone to remain an impostor in the classroom either. Even doctors complain of underpayment. That does not stop the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) from going after quack doctors.
We have always heard of quack doctors being nabbed. If the current TRCN leadership under Professor Josiah Ajiboye makes good its words, we would soon start hearing of quack teachers too.
The partial laxity of government in making all schools conducive for learning is not also a relevant excuse. As efforts are ongoing in that area, the quality of teachers cannot be overlooked. Attempts to regulate the teaching profession is just one of such steps at revamping the education sector.
You might have taught successfully for more than two decades without being licensed. You are not alone. We have unlicensed “doctors” who treated patients for that long too before being nabbed by their professional regulators in collaboration with law enforcement. We have fake lawyers who have won several court cases too but one day, the law caught up with them.
TRCN has the National Council on Education’s mandate to go after fake teachers from December 31st, 2019 aside what the law already says. We hope that would add to efforts towards cleansing the nation’s education system.