By Adesina Wahab
AS Nigeria grapples with mass migration of medical personnel to Europe and North America, the same may soon be witnessed in the education sector as the United Kingdom begins employment of qualified Nigerian teachers from February next year.
Currently, 350,000 Nigerian teachers are qualified for such employment from a pool of 1.5 million.
Already, the move is spiking mixed feelings with some critical stakeholders opining that the UK was only looking for cheap labour to employ, while others say the development should not be seen as another type of brain-drain.
Specifically, teachers certificated and assessed qualified by the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria, TRCN, will from February 1, 2023, be exempted from sitting for qualifying courses with the Teaching Regulation Agency, TRA, and thereby be given Qualified Teaching Status, QTS, in England.
QTS is England’s equivalent of Nigeria’s teaching licence issued by the TRCN.
Other countries where the UK is expecting teachers to take advantage of the new policy are Ghana, Hong Kong, India, Jamaica, Singapore, South Africa, Ukraine and Zimbabwe.
Number of certificated Nigerian teachers
According to figures from the TRCN, about 350,000 teachers in the country have taken the qualifying examinations of the council out of the estimated 1.5 million teachers on the payroll of governments across the federation.
Being on the Concurrent List in the constitution, local, state and Federal Governments are allowed to set up schools and employ teachers.
UK looking for cheap labour – NUT
Reacting to the development, the Lagos State Chairman of Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, Akintoye Hassan, said Nigerian teachers have always discharged themselves creditably when it comes to professionalism.
His words: “Yes, the truth is that Nigerian teachers are good and great and they deserve commendation for performing under conditions that are not conducive. It is not that Nigerians are not good, the atmosphere is simply hostile.
“The British Government recognises this and has listed our country among those whose services are needed in that sector.
“Unfortunately, what value do we place on teachers here? I see what the UK government wants to do as a business decision, as far as I am concerned, they just want to minimize cost and get cheap labour.
“Few days ago, nurses in that country went on strike because of poor remuneration. When they get new intakes for the job, they will start them at lower levels and pay them less.
“For those coming from Nigeria for instance, the situation will still be seen as better than what obtains here. We must note that the situation portends danger for Nigeria.
“The reason is that when countries such as Britain balance up regarding workforce, they will shut their doors. It is not that our own people are not good, are they appreciated and recognised?
It is not brain drain – TRCN
Registrar of TRCN, Prof. Josiah Ajiboye, in his view, said it shows the high quality of Nigerian teachers.
“When we started these innovations in the teaching profession, we stated that our qualifying examinations would be of global standards and the UK has confirmed that with this policy.
“It is not only there, but even from Canada, the United States and many other countries, we get inquiries on daily basis.
“I don’t see it as a kind of brain-drain. The world has become a global village and people even work for firms in Europe while living here in Nigeria.
“Moreover, our people will gain some insight there and which could positively rub off on our society later,” he stated.
Teachers deserve better treatment – ADAMOLEKUN
On her part, Convener of Enough is Enough, EIE, Project, Ms Yemi Adamolekun, noted that Nigerian teachers ought to be given better treatment than what they are experiencing now.
“Even before the British government came out with this policy, are our compatriots not going to sleep at embassies?
“Initially, I used to discourage people who want to leave the country for overseas to stay, but with the way things are being run, can anyone stop another person from leaving for greener pastures somewhere else?
“Even if it is going to be seen as a sort of brain-drain, nobody can stop those who want to take advantage of it.
We must improve on the welfare issues pertaining to our teachers and professionals generally.
Government should fulfil its obligations to workers,” she said.