EMEKA IHIEGBULEM, Owerri
A Catholic priest and educationist, Rev. Fr. Dr. Louis C. Nwankwo has called on the Federal Government to re-introduce the Teachers Training College (TTC), so as to restore fallen standard of education in the country.
Speaking during a press briefing in Owerri Tuesday, to mark his 40th anniversary of priestly ordination, Fr. Nwankwo said that TTC is the only institution or college for training and grooming effective academic teachers at the grass root.
Fr. Nwankwo, a retired principal (Special Class) said every profession or vocation world over has its special and peculiar training centre for prospective candidates and wondered why teaching profession, the premier profession is left out and made off in Nigeria.
The priest noted that in the past, when there was TTC, education stood and was felt by all, right form the grassroots. He warned that to talk of teaching profession without passing through a teacher training college, is a “jump over” adding that no one counts 10 without counting one.
Said he, “The point is that if children and pupils must be tutored from the basic little things, they must be taught by teachers who have been well prepared to impact knowledge from the formative stage of life. It is not for NCE or university graduates, who are generally lecturers and not tutors”.
While calling on the government to take urgent steps to bring back TTC, Fr. Nwankwo, who is also the Parish Priest of St. Parish AmuziObowo, recalled that education started to fall the year TTC system was scrapped in Nigeria.
“Different nations of the world have various solid plans for quality education and to make sure that it stands the taste of time, it has to be so in Nigeria, if we must develop and industrialize the nation for the good for our teeming youths”, the cleric noted.
“If we want to restore education and morality, government and education managers must be purposeful. Any unplanned and carefree education without students’ commitment is fake. There should be no adhoc on fire brigade approach to bring up teachers who handle education”.
Fielding questions, the school administrator said it was wrong to pay children for going to school to learn, adding that merits, awards and scholarships could be offered to encourage academic excellence.
On the way forward, Fr. Nwankwo recalled that in 2005, the then Federal Government of chief OlusegunObasanjo has ordered the then education Minister, Dr. (Mrs) Obaji to produce a blue print on education to avoid collapse of the system but unfortunately, Nigerians are yet to see that, he regretted.
He noted that since the pre-1970 education system stood the taste of time morally and academically, we should return to it, taking a few good things from the new. He also called for the scraping of elementary school system and suggested return to primary and standard system of education as it was in the 60s.
Continuing, he condemned the present 6-3-3-4 system of education in the country, saying it was brought in without proper and adequate plans, hence it woefully failed. He suggested a system where a child goes to nursery school at age of 3. He finished at age 6 and begins primary 1-2, completing it at age 8. He is then promoted to standard course classes, ie standard 1-6 which he completes in six years. At the end of this, he is 14 years and can now go into secondary school.
“In all this, if one fails a class, one must be made to repeat the class, no matter the parental pressure and influences. At the end of these courses, the student is 19 years old, fully mature to enter any tertiary institution, if he is a university material”.
He cautioned against careless award of political free education, as some states have done, stating that unplanned and unconditioned free education may water education down the more, as students will not take studies seriously.
The priest also called on the Federal and State Governments to re-introduce Higher School Certificate (HSC) Course that is 2 or 3 years senior classes, before entering university saying that it makes for healthy academic competition among students.
Fr. Nwankwo suggested a change in the school calendar, especially that of primary and secondary schools, to begin in January and end middle of December. The new calendar he explained will help our students to be involved in farm work during long vacations.
The educationist, who has written over six books, called for collaborative teamwork between students teachers, parents, church and government noting that if each party discharges its responsibilities very well, notorious practices as expo, sorting, secret cults etc. will be minimized.
On why he chose to speak on education to mark his 40th anniversary, Fr. Nwankwo said it is because priesthood is for the education and salvation of all men, adding that salvation of souls cannot be done in ignorance.
He further warned that “if we continue to go to school and manage education as it is currently in Nigeria, without adequate trained and well motivated teachers, we will in the next 20 years have educated ignorant race”.