Teacher Education in Nigeria: A Comparison with the United States
There is no nation that can grow beyond the quality of its education (Lawal, 2003). A nation can only develop meaningfully and attain professionalism through a good teacher education program, which begins with the organization of teacher education and the resolving of its problems. The paper concerns itself with teacher education in Nigeria, comparing this nation's program with that of the United States. Emphasis is placed on the appointment of professional teachers, the curriculum of teacher education and its expectations in both regions. The paper suggests ways that could lead both nations towards a good teacher education.
Teacher education is a key aspect of the education process or training that deals with the process of acquiring skills in teaching profession (Lawal, 2003). Teacher education is an essential program that enhances the skills of learning and teaching. In Nigeria, adequate preparation is undertaken to improve teacher education though the establishment of educational colleges both at federal and state government levels. Many universities in Nigeria have been established to promote effective and professional teacher education. In such institutions, students are taught to form habits that will help them become capable teachers who will take on responsibilities, learn initiative and be good role models for their future students.
According to Fafunwa (1972): "If the African Teacher is to cope adequately with the monumental task that lies ahead of him, he has to be well trained for his job. He must be willing to enter into the spirit of new African age, willing to share new information and skills with his fellow teacher, seek more knowledge on his own initiative and above all, be flexible and willing to experiment and not be afraid of failure. The new teacher envisaged must have flexibility built into his total professional and academic make-up, and should be helped though regular in-service training to keep abreast of new techniques, skills and research in his field."
Effective teacher education programs are prerequisites for a good education that causes a high level of confidence to both the teacher and his students. This outcome is the result of coordinated learning, and problems inherent in the teacher education are rectified and solved.
The Concept of Education
Education is an important aspect of social progress that'd necessary for professionalism in both nations and individuals (Lawal, 2003). The best way to improve education is through teacher education program, which is an important step towards understanding the skill of teaching and learning. Education is meant to help the individual teacher to grow and develop as a person and provide him with the skills and professional abilities to inspire students to learn and acquire the right types of understandings, concepts, values and attitudes, which are used to manage classroom instruction, and improve society as a whole.
The main goal of teacher education is to create highly motivated, sensitive, conscientious and successful classroom teachers who will handle students effectively and professionally for optimal educational achievement.
Rationale for Teacher Education
In trying to rationalize the objective of teacher education in Nigeria, it is important to understand its aims by recognizing the value and worth of a prospective teacher, giving him a good opportunity to learn to enhance his progress as a teacher.
Adeniji (1972) listed the purposes of teacher education in Nigeria as:
1. To produce highly motivated teachers;
2. To encourage the spirit of enquiry, creativity, nationalism and the sense of belonging;
3. To help the prospective teacher to fit into the social life of his home, his immediate and non-immediate communities;
4. To provide him with intellectual and professional background adequate to any changing situation in the life of his country; and
5. To produce knowledgeable, progressive and effective teachers who can inspire children to learn.
On the completion of their training, student teachers are expected to be:
a) effective and useful members of their communities;
(b) loyal citizens of the nation (Nigeria);
- people of good moral conduct; and (d) knowledgeable, progressive and effective teachers who inspire pupils and challenge them to learn.
In the U.S., there are various routes to take in order to become a teacher (Haselkorn and Calkins, 2000). The traditional way is for individuals to obtain a degree in education. In certain states, it is possible to obtain a teaching certificate with an undergraduate degree in education. Other states require more advanced preparation, like a master's degree. However, like in Nigeria, due to the shortage of teachers, some states have instituted alternative routes to teaching and offer emergency licensure.
This means that people who have undergraduate or graduate coursework or work experience in areas such as mathematics, science, special education, or bilingual education can apply for teaching licenses. As with traditional certifications, requirements for alternative teaching licenses vary for each state. In most cases, states require individuals to hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum number of credits in the subject to be taught, pass a state-required examination, and complete an intensive teacher training programs.
Training a Teacher for Professional Growth
According to Igunnu (1994), "Apart from the poor mode of intake into the teacher training colleges there is still the influx of many unqualified personnel which makes the composition of our teaching force even weaker" in Nigeria, we have three categories of teachers, which are listed below:
1) Professional teacher, this includes N.C.E. Associate Certificate in Education Certificate holders of Grades I and II teachers and their equivalent.
(2) Non-Professional Teachers, These are degree and Advanced Technical and Commercial Certificate holders without qualification.
(3) Auxiliary Teachers: These are intermediate and Craft certificate holders as well as WASC and GCE Certificate holders.
Skillful and effective teaching and learning is expected from professionally trained teachers in Nigeria (Lawal, 2003). Educated teachers can employ the use of teaching aids to supplement other methods. They can manage and control their classes for more effective learning.
Non-professional and auxiliary teachers can either be sent to undergo teacher education training to acquire teaching skills and class management in order to guide their students for quick and rapid development.
The overall aim of teacher education in Nigeria is to save the nation's educational sector from total collapse and direct it for professionalism. According to Tunner (1967): "To include total education of the information of individual student and research habits, the ability to think independently and to question authority, specially written authorities, and to reach an understanding of what learning is about by experiencing the thrill of learning rather than by merely gaining intellectual understanding of the theories of learning."
The curriculum of teacher education should be aimed at Nigeria so as to enable Nigeria teachers to be conscious and not put Nigerian development behind his mind and also not to be seen as inadequate in teaching his students.
Igunnu (1994) suggested that four components are recognized:
(1) General studies (basic academic subjects)
(2) Foundation studies (principles and practice of education)
(3) Studies related to the student's intended teaching filed
(4) Teaching practice
Teaching Practice as a Part of Teacher Education
Teaching practice is a very important program of teacher education, and gives the student the opportunity to practice what he learns in theory (Lawal, 2003). Martin and Westcott (1963) view teacher practice as an "apprenticeship or internship, which constitutes the gateway to one of he World's greatest professions-teaching."
Teaching practice has one specific goal to attain according to Haines (1960): "The central purpose of student teaching is to offer opportunities for prospective teachers to increase their professional competence as the assume gradually fuller responsibilities of a teacher under guidance of experienced personnel and accordance with readiness and heads."
Problems of Teacher Education in Nigeria
Nigeria's teacher education program has a variety of problems, including the following (Lawal, 2003):
a) Over direction of students at the college level by their lectures (teachers), resulting in lack of proper imagination and initiative on the part of most our teachers. In many cases, students depend on the teacher's notes, handouts, and examinations. This stifles independent opinion.
(b) Entrance requirements are random as they vary from state to state and from college to college. The success of a candidate depends greatly on the entrance examination of statement of results without giving consideration to purposeful interview. Students apply for admission without sincere commitment to teach in future. Many fail to pursue teaching when they graduate, opting instead for a better alternative job.
- Teacher education in Nigeria is not Nigeria-oriented. It gives a poor reflection of the nation's needs and aspirations. Very little is done to include the sense of partition or citizenship and national consciousness in students while in teacher training. Students leave the college with little information about Nigeria and an abundance of knowledge about the history of Europe.
(d) Inadequate finance from the government.
The United States also has declining support for teacher education. Teacher preparation does not exist as a single unit. The plight of the university as a whole impacts what happens to teacher education. In the United…