In the past, to teach in primary school a person needed a Teacher Certificate Grade II (TCGDII) from four years of secondary school at a Grade II Teacher-training college. These were phased out after 1998, when the Nigerian Certificate of Education (NCE) became the required diploma for all primary and junior secondary school teachers. In 1996, out of approximately 420,000 primary school teachers in the country, about 80 percent had either the NCE or TCGDII (equally divided between the two).
The government created the National Teachers Institute (NTI) in 1978 to conduct programs that would upgrade teacher qualifications to the NCE level, with most of this training carried out by distance learning. Between 1993 and 1996, the NTI graduated 34,486 in their NCE distance learning programs. In 2000, it trained 20,000 teachers. A Bachelor of Education program with NTI received approval by the government at the end of 2000. NTI also conducts workshops and conferences on curriculum development and in other areas of teacher training.
To teach in senior secondary schools a person must have either a bachelor's degree in education or a bachelor's degree in a subject field combined with a postgraduate diploma in education. The faculty in senior secondary schools are among the best qualified in the country, almost all holding bachelor's degree. A few teachers possess the NCE.
The bachelor's degree programs in education are offered at major teacher universities, such as Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, the University of Ibadan in Ibadan, and the University of Nigeria in Nsukka. Of the 63 colleges of education offering the three-year NCE program, about a third are owned by the federal government, and about half by state governments. The remaining are privately owned. All are under the supervision of the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE), which sets and maintains standards and approves of courses and programs for all universities in Nigeria.
To teach at Nigerian universities, teachers must have qualifications that are similar to professors at U.S. and European universities, usually a doctorate. At the university level, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) represents university faculty, and the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) bargains for the senior non-academic workers. The Academic Staff Unions of Polytechnics (ASUP) represents polytechnic faculty members. These unions are very active.
The major teacher organization representing primary and secondary school teachers is the Nigeria Union of Teachers. Although it is very active, NUT has been unable to change the unsatisfactory conditions under which teachers work. UNESCO reports that "34.4 percent of the teachers had neither the pupils' textbook nor the teachers' guide for any of the school subjects."
Another major concern of teachers is salary. Not only is payment often incomplete, but the salaries are low. Salaries are set by the local, state, and federal governments, depending on which level controls the institution. Some of the higher paid teachers are in the northeastern state of Jigawa where the State Commission of Education reported that in September 2000 the lowest paid teacher received 20,000 Nigerian dollars monthly (about US$176). A senior lecturer in higher education received about 80,000 Nigerian dollars monthly (approximately US$704).
This is a dramatic improvement from the long years of decline under the military governments. A senior lecturer in a university averaged about $23,500 annually in 1982. Within four years, poor economic policy and the decline in international oil prices led to the near disappearance of the Nigerian middle class. The salary of senior lecturers fell to about $2,630 and continued to fall for many years. In 1994, for example, the average annual salary for senior lecturers was $754. Only after the May 1999 election of Obasanjo were any serious attempts made to reverse this downward trend in salaries.
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