The Osun State government has turned two leading journalists on its payroll to teachers with its recent staff redeployment exercise.
This redeployment affected the State Chairman, National Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Motunrayo Olabisi Ayegbayo and her counterpart in the Sports Writers’ Association of Nigeria (SWAN), Adeyemi Aboderin.
About 300 other persons with teaching qualifications were also reportedly affected in the radical reforms by the Rauf Aregbesola led administration.
This development of transferring the services of the duo from the newsroom to the classroom particularly had set confusion among members of the state civil service.
Both Mrs Ayegbayo and Mr Aboderin were, until their new appointment, working for the state government at the state-owned Osun State Broadcasting Corporation (OSBC) in Ibokun and Osogbo, respectively.
Details of their new work posts remain sketchy as at press time but sources within the government connected the development to the need to have qualified hands in the classroom.
“The two of them have relevant qualifications to teach since they have degrees in education. Their deployment is just a bid to have shore up the number of qualified teachers in service,” a source told our correspondent.
But preliminary checks by EduCeleb.com show otherwise. Ayegbayo, who is the news editor with the OSBC holds a degree from the University of Uyo while Aboderin who is a broadcaster with the same media outlet holds a degree in Political Science from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, according to their social media profiles. It is not clear if either of them holds a teaching qualification.
This may have informed why another source believed that it was an attempt by the government to gag the media ahead of the gubernatorial elections coming up in September. He felt that the idea behind the redeployment of the two officials was ill conceived.
“This is a lopsided transfer, to say the least. No logical explanation can justify this error. It is odd as it is bizzare. This is indeed a conscious affront on the media in the state.
“I believe that the government is test running its instrument of repression against the media as gubernatorial election in the state draws near. It is pertinent for us to be vigilant and resist such antics,” the source said.
When EduCeleb.com reached out to the state’s Commissioner for Education, Kola Omotunde-Young, he confirmed the development.
Mr Omotunde-Young quipped that there was nothing strange in the actions of the state government, as it was much more interested in having those with teaching qualifications in the classroom.
He observed that some people actually had teaching qualifications but decided not to use this to benefit the education sector. He added that such people were meant to be in schools.
“Actually, government needs the services of new teachers in addition to those on ground. It is like that everywhere around the world.
“All those with teaching qualifications are the ones we returned to where they would be better useful to the society. For these people, they would be more useful in the classroom,” he said.
Also commenting on the matter, his counterpart in the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Technology, Remi Omowaye through a social media platform explained that the development was a fallout of some “harmonisation policy”.
“The transfer is in line with the harmonisation policy aimed at strengthening the Osun Civil Service. Those with education qualifications, over 300 in number; have been moved to the classroom. No hard feelings,” Mr Omowaye wrote.
EduCeleb.com reports that the National Policy on Education (NPE) and the National Teacher Education Policy (NTEP) clearly specify the importance of certification and qualification in teacher-education.
“In recognition of the pivotal role of quality teachers in the provision of quality education at all levels, teacher education shall continue to be emphasised in all educational planning and development,” states the NPE.
While the NPE specified that only persons with qualifications issued by teacher-training institutions were qualified to teach, the NTEP defines the nature of the training such persons must receive before joining the teaching profession.
The minimum entry qualification into the teaching profession is the Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE) issued through accredited colleges of education in the country. Also, Faculties of Education, and Institutes of Education in universities award degrees as well as pre-service training for teachers.
Other teacher-training institutions are the National Teachers’ Institute, National Institute of Nigerian Languages (NINLAN) and the National Mathematical Centre (NMC).
Beyond the qualifications, each teacher was expected to be licenced by the Teachers’ Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN). Since last October, an examination was to be written by any qualified teacher to be issued the licence.
At a time the TRCN Registrar, Professor Josiah Ajiboye is much more concerned about the mandate of weeding out unlicenced teachers from the teaching profession, it is not clear whether the Osun State government had helped the affected new teachers to obtain the teaching licence ahead of school resumption on Monday.