Professor Garba Dahuwa Azare was appointed as the Director General and Chief Executive of the National Teachers’ Institute, Kaduna by the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR on 1st August, 2016. During an exclusive interview with CAPITALWATCH MEDIA, Professor Azare highlights how the agency under his leadership has ensured sustainable teachers training in Nigeria.
QUESTION: Can you please tell Nigerians, the sole mandate of National Teachers Institute (NTI), Kaduna?
DG: The Institute was established in 1976 to provide In-service Education for teachers through the open Distance Learning System (DLS).
In 978 Act of the Institute now CAP N79 LFN 2004, the Institute is charged with the duty of providing courses of instruction leading to the development, upgrading and certification of teachers as specified in relevant syllabus using Distance Education Technique.
QUESTION: In what condition was the Institute on your assumption of office and what were your earlier reforms?
DG: The Institute was running courses on National Certification in Education (NCE), Bachelor Degree Programme (BDP) post Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) and Advance Diploma in Education (ADP) and Continue Professional Development(CPD) with many challenges.
All the BDP and PGDE Programmes were affiliated to recognize Universities in the six geo political zones (University of Ibadan for south West, Usman Dan Fodio University for North West, University of port-Harcourt for south-south, Nnamdi Azikwe University, Awka for south East, University of Ilorin for North Central and University of Maiduguri for North East).
Outstanding certificate of students who had graduated for a long period of time were collected from affiliating institutions and handed to their owners.
Enhancing and improving staff welfare by introducing restructuring of the institute for optimal performance policy i.e. every staff was posted to appropriate unit of his professional career.
QUESTION: Can we say the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is doing well in supporting education in Nigeria? How?
DG: The government is doing well in respect of paying salaries, allowances and other entitlements of personnel for all staff of the ministry, departments and agencies.
The administration also considers and makes allocation to the education agencies to carry out infrastructural development.
QUESTION: Education is no doubt the bedrock of every nation. How has your agency been able to add value to Nigeria’s educational system through teachers training?
DG: Exposure to relevant fields of education through training and retraining of teachers from various state of the federation.
Providing of continued professional development training for science and mathematics teachers across the country. The trainings are hosted by the Centre of Strengthening of Science and mathematics which was built by Japanese government.
QUESTION: How can you describe Nigeria’s standard of teachers training in comparison to that of the advanced nations?
DG: Nigeria needs to do a lot in terms of teacher training to meet up with the advanced nations. This is because teacher training is a continuous phenomenon and it entails heavy financial commitment.
Facilities and other necessary logistics need to be adequately provided and regular capacity building needs to be provided.
QUESTION: Describe how the closedown of school activities as the result of the government’s response to control the spread of COVID-19 Pandemic has affected the learning system in Nigeria and the world, and suggest the best way out.
DG: There was a huge loss from the part of students, parents and community. It affected the global education in general as such there is a lot of uncertainties.
Gradual opening of school, normal lessons via online, capacity building, social distancing must be maintained in schools use of ICT for classroom management, learning and teaching.
QUESTION: What do you have to say on the ongoing online classes initiated by the government and schools in ensuring students learn while at home?
DG: It is an alternative source of facilitating teaching and learning and it is considered as an intervention measures to address some of the educational engagements between teachers and students.
Many countries are taking advantage of online classes to provide access to students, eliminate distance and gender bias among students and also learn at your own phase. It also engages students to read, listen and do some educational activities.
QUESTION: Tell us in summary, your achievements from the time of appointment by Mr President to date.
DG: Many achievements were recorded, to mention few let me start by: Resolving programmes issues like BDPs that were suspended by National University Commission (NUC), affiliating PGDE programmes to six universities across the geo political zones, staff welfare, mobilization resources and interventions from partnering agencies, staff capacity building in collaboration with national and international organizations like Common wealth of learning (COL), UNESCO, promotion of staff and many Continues Professional Development (CPD) etc.
QUESTION: What challenges can you say, the National Teachers Institute is faced with, and how do you intend to overcome same?
DG: The major challenges that NTI is facing now has to do with funding and its re-engagement with Education Trust Fund (ETF) to support it to establish study centers in across the country with state of arts facilities to support its programmes.
Sustaining teacher capacity building trainings across the county to provide the quality teachers needed by the country for sustainable development.
QUESTION: What would you call on the government to do that will aid your agency and other institutions of learning in tackling the problems of poor teachers training aimed at achieving qualitative system of learning in Nigeria?
DG: Government will do its possible best to see that State Governments, State Universal Boards and Universal Education Commission expose their teachers to capacity building trainings organized by NTI on different fields of education.
Adequate and proper funding of other regular NTI programmes that are now run only through internally Generated Revenue (IGR).