Expanding Teaching Outcomes Through Reintroduction of Bursaries, by Rahma Oladosu
Teaching is a highly complex activity, a social practice that takes place in a specific context like time, place, culture, socio-political and economic situations. It is therefore shaped by the values of these specific contexts.
Growing up, our parents and teachers were usually the first ones to impact our lives significantly. In fact, in the younger years, students have complete faith in their teachers and they listen to them more than their parents.
In other words, teachers do not merely stick to the role of teaching but adapt to various roles as the need arises. Teachers become our friends when we are sad, they care for us like our parents when we are hurt. Teachers are also of great importance in the life of parents, who expect a lot from them in the mentoring of their kids.
All these shows the significance and impact of teachers in any society, and the need to sincerely appreciate them for all their good works made a whole day to be dedicated to them. This is a day we all know as the World Teachers Day, which is often celebrated on the 5th of October annually.
The idea of celebrating teachers took root in many countries during the 19th century, with local educators or important milestones in education being celebrated in many cases.
Recently, during the celebration of the World Teachers Day, the Federal Government announced a proposal to pay bursaries in the sum of N75,000 per semester to undergraduates studying education courses in public institutions and N50,000 for those enrolled for National Certificate In Education (N.C.E.) programmes in our Colleges of Education.
The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, who made the disclosure, said the Federal Government’s reintroduction of these bursary awards as a policy is scheduled for implementation this year.
Adamu equally made it clear that there is going to be a clause for those benefitting from the scheme, as these students in public institutions would have to sign undertakings to serve the government for a minimum of five years after graduation.
In order to make the bursary awards policy workable and sustainable, the registrar and chief executive of the Teachers’ Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), Professor Olusegun Ajiboye, explained that the Federal Government has tied the payments to the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), which is an existing financing/intervention agency for tertiary institutions in the country.
TETFund was originally established as the Education Trust Fund (ETF), before it was renamed as an intervention agency set up to provide supplementary support to all levels of public tertiary institutions. Its main objective is to use funding, alongside project management, for the rehabilitation, restoration and consolidation of tertiary education in Nigeria.
The intervention agency’s main source of income is the two per cent education tax paid from the assessable profit of companies registered in Nigeria. The Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) collects this tax on behalf of the Fund.
While the board and the management of TETFUND is yet to react to its newly proposed mandate of intervening in the provision of bursary to students, given the track record of the FUND in its support of educational outcomes in the country through the provision of different levels of infrastructure, one can hope for its more positive impact on this newer level.
The case for such a crucial intervention in the teaching profession in Nigeria by investing in crucial manpower is evident in the very low ratio of teachers to pupils in our public educational institutions, as many shy away from what has become a “sufferhead profession”. The sad outcome of this is there to see in poor educational outcomes witnessed in the declining results of students and unfortunately high number of out-of-school children in many parts of the country.
Anything that would inspire the building of skills to rescue public education at this point in out national experience needs to supported. And while one can say that the government’s proposal of bursaries in the range of N50,000 – N75,000 at this point in the economic situation of the country is quite commendable, yet there would be need for other levels of support for the building of a robust public educational capacity, and to make this a more holistic policy with improved chances of success.
With TETFund’s involvement in the disbursing of these bursary awards, one sincerely hopes that this would further attract many young and competent Nigerians to venture into the teaching profession. Nigerian public education requires all the support it can get at this point in time.
Rahma Olamide Oladosu is a Staff Writer with the Economic Confidential