DG NTI: The Placing Of Round peg In A Round whole

Appraisal of the plausible achievements of Prof. Prof. Garba Dahuwa Azare

By Deshi Munkuwe

The falling standard of education in Nigeria over the years has been a major thing of concern considering the growing number of unemployed graduates in the country. This can sometimes be measured from the quality of what goes into these students while in schools, and turning out in their numbers without capacities in meeting up with opportunities both within and outside the country.

Inadequate and qualified teachers, poor funding, poor infrastructure, poor policy implementation, examination malpractices and corruption are some of the commonly cited reasons responsible for this unfortunate situation.

Lack of appropriately qualified teachers is no doubt one major factor incubating several others hatching to the epileptic education system in Nigeria. Consequently, the National Teachers’ Institute (NTI) was setup to serve as a spring bud in adressing some of these challenges as a Distant Learning Educational Institution with the vision to enhance the professional skills of serving teachers for high quality education delivery at primary and secondary education levels with a view to uplift the standard of the education in the country.

The National Teachers’ Institute, Kaduna is one educational institution dedicated to teachers training. Established in 1976 by the Federal Government primarily because of the pressing needs in the country to trained and qualified teaching staff at all levels of the educational system. Act No. 7 of 10 April 1978 establishing the Institute charged it among others with the responsibility of: providing courses of instruction leading to the development, upgrading and certification of teachers as specified in the relevant syllabus using distance education techniques.

Prof. Garba Dahuwa Azare, the current Director-General and Chief Executive (DG/CE) of the institute has since after his deserved appointment by President Buhari on 1st August, 2016 embarked on noteworthy and laudable reforms aimed at transforming the institute for effective service delivery.

Based on his wealth of experience as an educationist, Azare records tremendous progress in transforming the institute for effective service delivery through the initiation of impactful programmes and reforms. These laudable reforms have in no small measure add to the standard of teachers training which consequently has positive effect on education system in Nigeria as discussed.

On his assumption in office, Azare successfully restructured the Institute and established new Departments of Examinations, Quality Assurance and Academic Services for optimal performance and efficiency in service delivery. Staffs were re- organized and posted on the basis of their qualification, relevance and experience for effective and efficient results.

Within a short period of time Prof Azare successfully secured approval of the National Universities Commission (NUC) for the affiliation of: Bachelor’s Degree Programme with National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), Bachelor’s Degree Programme courses not offered by NOUN with University of Maiduguri, and more Bachelor’s Degree courses with University of Maiduguri. On the same vein, Post – Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) with six Federal universities (UDUS, UNIMAIDS, UNIZIK, UI, UNIPORT and UNILORIN) with one University per geo – political zone. Consequently, this initiative has contributed immensely to improving the knowledge and qualification of prospective teachers to a higher, advanced and more elaborated standard.

In his desire to present and align the institute with prominent, global learning agencies, the DG established better working relationship with International Organizations and Agencies such as Commonwealth of Learning (COL), UNESCO, UNICEF, University of London, Open University of UK, USAID, British Council, DFID and many more. In line with this, Professor Azare introduced and established the Green Teacher Programme in collaboration with Commonwealth of Learning (COL) Vancouver, Canada. This is an environmental education programme aimed at enlightening and educating teachers at all levels about the environment. It is indeed an innovative strategy for addressing current global challenges about the environment which Nigeria is not an exception.

With the view to enhancing quality and standard in the institute, Prof. Azare has been engaging seasoned educationist from various Universities of the country to serve as external Quality Assurance Assessor for ball the Institute’s academic programmes.

The Director General and Chief Executive professor Garba Dahuwa Azare in his wisdom has also expanded and equipped the strengthening of Mathematics and Science Education (SMASE) Complex for effective and efficient service delivery. He also succeeded in: Making adequate sensitization of stakeholders and the public about the SMASE, bringing on board, all the 36 States and FCT to benefit from the unique pedagogy training on SMASE, and making the Centre very vibrant and active and also competing with the SMASE Regional Centre in Kenya.

Prof. Azare also introduced new courses in Institute’s NCE programme. This is with the view to providing more opportunity for teachers to specialize in other key areas of the curriculum. Some of these courses include; Agricultural Science, Biology, Chemistry, physics and the Nigerian Languages.

Enhanced and strengthened the capacity of staff through a number of capacity building training programmes organized in the Institute. Some of these training include: Code of conduct for all staff, anti Corruption and transparency, development of strategic plan and number of ICT training for staff. According to him, the Institute had pursuant to that mandate, been running a number of training and re-training programmes through the Distance Learning mode. The Institute has a catalogue of no fewer than 100 variety of Capacity Building training for teachers with a view to improving and enhancing the capacity of teachers nationwide.

The DG has developed and is currently implementing the strategic plan for the Institute. Encourage and sponsored staff for regular training in Nigeria Higher Institute and abroad. He created very conducive working environment for staff both at the Headquarter and the Field Offices, through the provision of the adequate furniture and office equipment.

In his plan to motivate staff, the DG fully implemented approved Duty Tour Allowance (DTA) for all staff of the Institute on official assignment. He also developed and tested varieties of Quality Assurance Instrument for effective evaluation of all academic and non-academic activities of the Institute.

As a passionate educationist who is resolute towards results and the future of education and geneartion to come in the country earned him several awards, among others, he has been conferred with Honourary Doctorate Degree (Honoris Causa) in Education by the Commonwealth University, London in recognition of his immense contribution to educational development not only in Nigeria but worldwide!