The Colleges of Education sub-sector is facing a critical challenge of abysmal dwindling enrolment of students, with its huge implications on teacher education. KAYODE OLANREWAJU examines the trends
TRCN: It’s a dangerous trend if not curbed
Students’ apathy, societal factor, other bane of colleges of
There are indications that teacher education is under threat following the seemingly trends of dwindling enrollment into Colleges of Education and Faculty of Education in Nigerian universities.
This is as education pundits and experts raised the alarm that if not checked, the intractable trends would continue to hamper the nation’s quest for quality education.
Stakeholders, especially policy makers and education managers have traced the possible reasons for low enrolment and current apathy towards colleges of education and the Nigerian Certificate in Education (NCE) among secondary school leavers to unemployment of NCE teachers, high tuition (especially in private and state-owned colleges), as well as parents and societal disposition towards the teaching career, and the prevalent quest or passion for university education.
The Federal Government had a few years ago made the Nigerian Certificate in Education (NCE) the minimum qualification for teaching in Nigerian schools.
To effectively enforce the policy, the Teachers’ Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN) was established by the Federal Government to oversee and supervise the teaching profession.
The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) in its staggering statistics released recently on 2020 admission and 2021 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) at its 2021 Policy Meeting of all stakeholders in the education sector, revealed that in the admission quota of 235,240 for colleges of education/ NCE only 47,912 students could be admitted by the over 152 colleges (comprising 27 federal, 54 state and 82 private), representing 20.37 per cent.
For universities (Degree) with a quota of 601,775 students, a total of 422,453 were admitted, representing 70.20 per cent; while polytechnic (National Diploma) with a quota of 114,924 admitted a total 79,931 students, representing 69.55 per cent of its quota.
But, to JAMB, this development is based on the preferences expressed or otherwise indicated by candidates for certain tertiary institutions and academic programmes or courses.
Similarly, in the 2020 admission based on institutional category as presented by JAMB, the examination body responsible for the conduct of qualifying examination into Nigerian higher institutions – universities, polytechnics/monotechnics, colleges of education –the federal colleges of education with a quota of 83,020, could only admitted 27,053 students; state-owned colleges of education that had 131,880 admission quota for 2020 could only admit 20,035 students; while private colleges of education with 20,340 quota admitted only 832 students.
The statistics further revealed that out of the total 235,240 admission quota for all the 152 colleges of education for 2020 admission year, only 47,920 spaces were filled, leaving a vacancy not used by the colleges at 187, 320 spaces. Also, in 2018, while 69,712 candidates applied for admission into polytechnics (ND); only 24,524 candidates sought admission into colleges of education (NCE).
Again, in 2019, the figure for application for polytechnic (ND) was 43,605; while 34,141 applied to colleges of education (NCE), indicating the preference of students for polytechnics and university education respectively.
Meanwhile, based on JAMB statistics, colleges of education in the North are more subscribed to by students than those in the South. For instance, while College of Edu- cation (Technical), Zaria in 2020 admitted 4,615 students into NCE programme; and the Federal College of Education (Technical), Gombe admitted 3,678 students; the Federal College of Education, Abeokuta, Ogun State could only admit 1,954 students in the same period.
Going be the statistics, the state and privately-owned colleges are worst hit by the poor enrollment crisis, in which a private college, the Topmost College of Education in Ipaja on the outskirts of Lagos, which had an admission quota of 1,290 candidates, but could only manage to get 11 students that applied into the institution out of whom only five students were admitted for that year.
Another case worse scenario is the Nana Aishat Memorial College of Education, a private college of education in Kwara State, where of the 1,500 admission quota, only 22 students applied and only 13 students were admitted. But, the situation is a bit better for the Arabic Islamic College of Education, Potiskum, Yobe which is one of the highest subscribed colleges of education in the country.
With 1,300 admission quota, 201 students applied for admission into the college, while 171 students were admitted. It is the same story of woe in the university system, where the Faculty of Education accounted for one of the lowest subscribed faculties.
For 2021 UTME, the admission quota available for Faculty of Education in universities, according to JAMB statistic was put at 111,601 spaces, but only 53,612 candidates applied, leaving an imbalance of 208.16 per cent; while a course such as Law/ Legal with 8,529 available admission quota, was oversubscribed by 81,653 candidate who applied to study Law, representing 10.45 per cent of those who applied.
The indication is that the best and most candidates do not apply or wish to enroll into colleges of education or Faculty of Education in universities, but preferred university or polytechnic for courses, which to them, are more lucrative than teaching.
Further investigations by New Telegraph showed that while there has been consistent over subscription for the university education over the years, enrolment into colleges of education has been on steady decline due to students’ apathy to seek admission into the colleges and due to societal perception.
Worried by the development, the Registrar/Chief Executive Officer of Teachers’ Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), Prof. Josiah Ajiboye, in his reaction to the trends of low subscription for colleges of education, when compared to enrollment into other tertiary institutions, said the low attraction of the teaching profession over the years had been as a result of the societal rating and low morale and perception of Nigerian teachers.
He, however, expressed anxiety over the current dwindling enroll-ment into teacher education in the country, saying “it is a dangerous trend if not curbed.”
But, as part of moves to address the trend, the TRCN Registrar, however, lauded President Muhammadu Buhari and the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu for the approval, last year, of incentives that would make the teaching profession more attractive to best brains and to retain experienced teachers on the job.
“With full implementation of those incentives, more and more people will begin to flock into the profession,” Ajiboye noted, stressing that the agency is also doing everything possible to ensure full implementation of the President’s approvals.
The Registrar, who said that the agency had so far registered about 2.3 million teachers out of about over 4 million teachers in the Nigerian school system, however, noted with regrets that a large percentage of the teachers in private schools are not ‘registrable.’
He said: “They are not qualified to be in the classroom. But, with TRCN monitoring, we hope to get rid of all the quacks in the profession and the school system. “Part of what we are doing at the Federal Ministry of Education and the TRCN level is to put measures in place to attract the best brains into the profession.
Even presently with the increase in the number of years in service approved by President Buhari, many people are thinking of crossing over to teaching.”
The trend of low enrollment into the colleges of education, the Provost of the Federal College of Education (Technical), Umunze, Anambra State, Dr. Tessy Okoli said, could be attributed to apathy of most candidates, who prefer degree programme because the requirements for admission into degree is almost the same as that of NCE programme.
“The entry requirement for both degree and NCE is five O’Level credit passes in relevant subjects. In addition to meeting this entry requirement, candidates must write the UTME for admission for both degree and NCE. Hence, most students prefer degree programmes as being more attractive to NCE,” she added.
Besides, she noted that the attitude of many parents, who insist on degree certification, has an enormous influence on the decision of students seeking admission. Regrettably, the Provost expressed consternation that these parents often degrade NCE as a lesser certificate, and thus go extra miles to secure admission in degree programmes for their children.
Dr. Okoli, who is also the National Secretary of Women in Colleges of Education in Nigeria (WICE), also cited societal factor and peer influence as some of the major reasons for low enrollment into the nation’s colleges of education, saying through peer influence the students make career choices or choice of academic programmes. She noted: “We also have the societal factor and peer influence.
Through peer influence young students make career choices and choice of academic programmes. While the society celebrates degree students undertaking the Industrial Training (IT), little regard is shown towards NCE students doing their mandatory Teaching Practice (TP) in primary and secondary schools.
On his part, the former Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Osun State University (UNIOSUN), Osogbo, Prof. Siyan Oyeweso, while expressing his views on the implications of this on the school system, pointed out that the implications are wide-ranging, but added that “we must first understand where the problem is coming from which is the objective of setting up the Colleges of Education.”
According to him, politics rather than genuine concerns for teacher education is why the colleges of education are in a mess today.
Oyeweso, a Professor of History, however, attributed some of the militating factors against teacher education to the preference for university education among applicants than college of education, as well as the lack of attractiveness of the NCE programme and courses taught in the colleges.
“The products of Colleges of Education are often discriminated against at the labour market which further discourages applicants from enrolling into the colleges,” the Executive Director of Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding, Osun State lamented, saying that the part of the implications therefore is that the colleges of education have become redundant and less patronised by students.
Still on the implications, Oyeweso added, is that the dwindling enrollment would greatly affect the number of teachers needed to fill up the spaces at the primary and secondary school levels.
“Today, teachers’ education no longer meets the quality needed to transform the education sector, as the teaching profession has become substandard because products of the colleges of education are usually not interested in the programme, nor are they ready for the task ahead,” he said.
Given the present lack of employment opportunities in the country, a don said candidates prefer to go to the polytechnic to acquire practical skills for them to be self-employed, rather than enroll into colleges of education.
On the dwindling enrolment, the source recalled that his Department (Primary Education), which used to admit over 150 students in a session, had only five and eight for admission in the 2018/2019, and 2019/2020 academic sessions respectively.
“With a large school complex and infrastructure in place, this situation portrays a waste of infrastructure and human resources in the colleges of education.
However, in the trends of application and admission into College of Education, Oyo from 2019 to 2021 academic sessions, New Telegraph learnt that for the 2019/2020 session, no fewer than 1,350 students applied out of whom 1,215 were admitted, while 1,600 applied to the college for the 2020/2021 session.
Meanwhile, the Public Relations Officer of the Emmanuel Alayande College of Education (EACOED), Oyo, Kayode Oyedepo, however, agreed that there had been a sharp decline in the number of candidates seeking admission to the college, when compared in the past years.
Sadly, it was also learnt that most candidates after their failed attempt to secure university admission now applied to colleges of education as a last resort rather than staying idle at home.
According to the Head of Information Department of Adeyemi College of Education (ACE),Ondo, which runs NCE and Degree progrommes, Mrs. Oluseto Olatuyi, said 1,513 students were admitted into the college for the 2018/2019 academic session; while in the 2019/2020 admission year, the college admitted 1,824 students.
With plans to upgrade the college to a full-fledged university, Mrs. Olutuyi expressed worry that most of the students applying into the institution preferred degree courses, particularly as the entry requirements are the same.
As part of moves to address the low subscription into colleges of education, the Ekiti State Government said it had upgraded the College of Education, Ikere-Ekiti to a University of Education, Science and Technology due to the steady reduction in enrollment.