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Thursday, 30 November 2017


By Prof Abubakar Aliyu Liman.
Only Teachers' Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN) can lawfully and legally administer professional examination on teachers.

An informal, unprofessional and non-standadized test (examination) is not only lacking in validity and reliabilty, but also can not be the basis of taking any formal decision.

The problem started when teachers were forced to take the informal, unvalidated test by those with neither the professional authority nor legal competence to administer test. This is the bastardization of the teaching profession from the political administrators' side.

Teaching is a specialized and technical profession. It has its own specialist methodology and techniques of carrying out every part of its professional tasks. Not every examination is good and relevent for everybody. For instance, saying the National anthem is part of the syllabus of class one in primary school. How many of our Governors, Commissioners, SAs, PAs, Dirctors and other members of cabinets, can say the National Anthem correctly? They will almost all fail this class one examination. Does that mean they know nothing, they lack patriotism, and are bad administrators? This is the question of validity. Validity in the field of professional teaching refers to capacity of a test or examination to measure what it is supposed to measure. If a test meant to measure growth is administered for development, such test lacks validity. If a class one test item of National Anthem , which probably Governors, Senators and Ministers  will fail, is  given to an administrator to test his competence in administration, it is a test with zero validity.

There is more to examination than mere passing and failing.

Teaching is not all about ability to remember details. A teacher may not be able to recall everything or even anything at all; that does not mean he or she could not teach with books and material close by to remind him. That is why, for every lesson, a teacher is required to consult books, take notes and plan the lesson. A good teacher, especially at O' Levels, is expected to make research on every topic, be it for Primary one or SS3. The ability to teach concept from memory is of less importance in teaching than the skill of delivery. A teacher who forgets everything but has mastery of methods and strategies is professionally, head over shoulder, above a teacher with higher memory, but poor methodology and strategies. We must not confuse lack of instant recall or memory with lack of knowledge. I can not remember is not the same as I do not know. That is why teachers are required to go to classes with notes and text books to aid memory and supply details.

90% of the El-Rufai's ''class 4'' Questions test only memory. In teaching there are three domains of intelligence. The Cognitive, the Affective and the Psychomotor domains. The Cognitive has to do with mental ability. The Affective refers to behaviours and attitude, and the Psychomotor encompasses physiological coordination and motor skills.  These are what teachers call three domains of objectives. Memory is part of the cognitive domain and it is the lowest out of the seven levels  in the cognitive domain. Memory questions test only our ability to remember and nothing more. Memory question does not test ability to summarize, compare, or evaluate, or synthesise, or analyse, or apply.  Any examination for teachers containing purely memory questions is not for teachers and can not be used to take any decision on professional teachers. Teachers  tasks are far beyond memorization.

The error arises from the meddling of quantity surveyers, bankers, politicians, social media knight errants and host of other unqualified non-teaching busy bodies. They all think teaching is all about excellent memory. They assume poor memory makes a bad teacher. This is an unprofessional lay man's conception of who a teacher is and what is teaching. A teacher is not Mr Know All. The primary duty of a teacher is not to dish out knowledge and skills and conduct. A teacher is to guide, to lead and to facilitate learning. A professional teacher is, first and foremost, knowledgeable in human nature and psychology. Then he/she shall be a middleman between learners and learning experience through organizing and presentation of learning tasks. There are many dimensions to teaching that are professionally more important than raw power of recall. Not every dabbler may have an opinion on teaching. It is too highly technical for every tom, dick and harry to express a view.

Back to TRCN. It must be stressed that TRCN is the only lawfully recognized body that can test the professional competence of teachers. By its establishment act, TRCN is supposed to administer annual professional examination on all qualified and registered teachers. Those that pass are to be issued annual license. Those that fail are to stay out of class untill they pass next years. From the preceding section of this post, it could be understood that the professional examination to be administered by TRCN is not a common class 4 memory based test or a national anthem test. It will be what professionals call Standadized Professional Examination or Test. Standadized test is a complex research based instrument. A lot of variable, analyses and calculations are involved. In fact, besides determining the form of the test and its scope and sectoral distribution of objectives; each item of question must be tested and analysed in terms of so many techinical  concepts and formulas.

Sadly, TRCN is failing in many aspects of its mandate. All it does now is collect membership registration fees for issueing meaningless certificates and collection of accreditation fees for poorly monitored programmes that largely lead to lowering of quality product. This professional and technical vacuum created by TRCN leads to confused meddlesomeness from some of the unlikely quarters derailing into  harmful practices in this most noble profession.

TRCN men concentrate more in making money than making the profession truely professional and great. Everything, yes everything, they do is in the wrong way. Their professional  grading system which I once analysed in a national stake-holders meeting, is amateurish and unprofessional. Their certification process is wrongfully done. And they conduct no professional examination as well as they do not do their duty of setting the minimum professional fees for teachers. Perhaps, few people are aware that the law mandated TRCN to set the minimum cost of hiring every teacher.

If we really wish to do better in the education sector, we must get back to the drawing board and do the proper thing. I advise the Kaduna State Government to throw away that travesty call class 4 examination and take to task TRCN.  El-Rufai should call upon TRCN to do its duty by Kaduna State teachers.

Before that,  professional public conference on state of education needs to be convened, where theorist and experienced teachers may meet and find solutions to practical real life problems in this vital sector.

We can never make headways through trial and error, blind imitation and free for all medication.

I am a professional teacher with teaching experience at all levels for over two decades. I attended countless conferences and workshops both as  participant and as facilitator and coordinator. I participated in the production of training manuals and I helped in founding one of the teaching professional bodies in Nigeria, being the pioneer Secretary of the Association of Nigerian Educators that produces an educational journal. We are ready to make available our experience and know how in moving the education sector forward."

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