500,000 Unemployed Graduates as Teachers – Solving One Problem to Create More?

President Muhammadu Buhari’s quest to provide
500,000 unemployed Nigerian graduates jobs in the
teaching profession, has attracted manifold
reactions from stakeholders in the education sector.
While a school of thought views it as a good policy
thrust on tackling unemployment among youths, it
is, however, perceived by many as a bid to solve one
problem, which may lead to creating more in the
It will be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari
had recently stated that 500,000 unemployed
graduates will be absorbed into the teaching
profession to solve, in the interim, the problem of
graduate unemployment in the country.
Apart from the reality that many square pegs will
end up in round holes, stakeholders are also asking
who will be responsible for the 500,000 teachers’
salaries, as the states and local governments over
the years have had the responsibility of paying
teachers’ salaries.
In her reaction, the Deputy Vice Chancellor
(Academics) University of Calabar and immediate
past Dean, Faculty of Education, Professor Florence
Banku-Obi applauded the Federal Government’s
decision to create jobs, but added: “If the Federal
Government is thinking of creating those jobs in the
education sector by employing and sending them to
the classroom, it is a move in the wrong direction.”
Untrained teachers
According to her, sending these graduates to the
classroom will rather bring in more confusion into
the education sector, warning that it is going to be
a wrong step to send these untrained teachers into
the classrooms.
To her, many of the said graduates are not trained
teachers, and many, especially the younger
generation don’t want to teach because they have
no interest in teaching. She said: “Employing them
will just be a means of earning a living because they
have no passion for teaching.”
Alternatively, the DVC disclosed that rather than the
government sending them to the classrooms, they
can focus on industrialization and other sectors.
“Government can expand agriculture where they
need little or no skills to make returns. Yes, I know,
there are people who are trained agriculturists, but
that is the essence of extension workers. If you are
going into agriculture and have no basic knowledge,
then you need extension workers to groom you.”

Stressing the need for each state auditing of
unemployed teachers for efficiency, Banku-Obi
pointed out that there are still thousands of Nigerian
youths who read education but are not employed.
She urged the Federal Government to task each
state to do auditing for efficiency. She said: “Each
state has thousands of unemployed trained teachers
seeking teaching jobs, they can be engaged and sent
to classrooms, while government creates
opportunities for the non-teaching graduates in
other areas.”
She noted that the same Federal Government which
owns the Federal Government Teaching Scheme,
employs NCE teachers for one or two years and
disengages them. Rather than disengage them, she
counselled that they should review the policy and
make it permanent.
The professor maintained that many NCE graduates
who were employed under that scheme, taught for
one or two years and were sent back to the labour
Banku-Obi who lamented the policy somersaults in
the sector said: “The confusion and the problems we
have in the sector is as a result of policy
inconsistency of the Federal Government. ‘We don’t
have educators piloting the affairs of the Ministry of
Education, like what we have in health and justice.
“It is high time the Federal Government began to
think seriously of employing round pegs in round
holes by getting professional educators to man the
Ministry of Education.
“Today, we think we are getting to the right
direction, tomorrow another minister comes who
does not have an idea of what education and
teaching is all about comes with another policy.
Now, the new man thinks he is doing Nigeria good
by sending unemployed graduates to the teaching
profession, they are not thinking of the effect on the
Unemployed graduates
“Already, employers are complaining that we have
graduates that are unemployable and the Federal
Government is sending these same graduates to the
teaching profession.
“What are you expecting to get from the system? It
will be garbage in, garbage out. They are going to
feed the tertiary institutions with poor students. At
the end, the tertiary institutions will not be able to
perform any magic on the undergraduates. I think
we should have a good policy.
“If possible, government should have another
education summit where people will come and
discuss this issue. Unfortunately, when Ministry of
Education calls for Education Summits, they bring in
directors of different fields, staff from different
ministries, professionals from different fields, they
will never bring in educationists to talk about
“They see education summit as an avenue of making
their own money. I strongly suggest that there
should be a proper education summit and state
auditing of teachers. Let them verify if they can get
the numbers of teachers they are looking for from
the states for the teaching profession. After this,
they should engage the services of the Teachers
Registration Council to set up aptitude tests and see
those who are qualified and have a passion for the
teaching profession before engaging them. The body
should organize one or two months training for them
before engaging them.
Speaking in the same vein, Deputy Director, Distance
Learning Institute, University of Ibadan, Professor
Oyesoji Aremu also applauded the initiative of the
Federal Government to employ the 500,000
unemployed graduates, but however expresses some
Teaching manpower
He said: “It is a welcome development given the
paucity of teaching manpower generally in the
school system (primary and secondary education).
According to him, some cautionary notes should
however, be sounded in the interest of pupils/
students and education for part of the existing
malady in the education sector not to repeat itself.
He, however frowned at employing wrong personnel
(who masquerade as teachers) into the school

His words: “‘Mostly in many public schools (primary
and secondary), the teaching force is populated by
untrained teachers. This, with proven evidence, has
contributed not only to the decline of standards in
public schools but also poor academic performance
as shown by West African Examination Council
(WAEC) and National Examination Council’s (NECO)
results, where national performance norm is terribly
below average. It has always made public schools
unfashionable for many parents who prefer fee-
paying private schools for their wards.”
Prof. Aremu added: “With these cautionary notes, it
is instructive to advise the Federal Government not
to make the employment of 500,000 teachers an all-
comers affair. One, it should be phased by first
considering graduates of universities and colleges of
education who studied education or who have had
postgraduate diplomas in education, irrespective of
their first degrees or Higher National Diploma

“The second phase is to consider others who are
without certification in education pedagogy. This
category of unemployed youths should be exposed
to a stop-in-the-gap abridged training in education
and should also be made to go through a mock
teaching practice. This could be for a month and
with a condition that such people be made to go for
postgraduate diplomas in education on Open
Distance Learning platform.
Aremu further advised; “Logistics of stop-in-the-gap
training should also be worked out by the Federal
Ministries of Education and Labour in conjunction
with state ministries and zonal offices. Lastly, the
recruitment should pass integrity test so as not to
be hijacked by politicians.”
Also reacting, the Dean, School of Education,
Adeniran Ogunsayan College of Education, Ijanikin,
Dr. Deborah Delegiwa urged the Federal Government
to reconsider its proposed plan. According to her,
the decision to recruit graduates without training as
teachers will spell doom for the sector, stating that
teaching is an art, not a mere vocation.
Necessary knowledge
She said:”Teaching is an art that requires a person
to acquire basic and necessary knowledge before
being qualified. If one then desires to go into
teaching without being trained, it connotes
disrespect of the teaching profession. The action
also suggests that the colleges and faculties of
education should cease to exist.”
On his part, the Head of Department, Early Childhood
Care and Education, AOCOED, Mr Sunday Fowowe,
stated that the decision of the President on
recruiting graduates with no formal education as
teachers amounts to passing no vote of confidence
on Teachers ‘Education.
Said he: “No matter how brilliant an individual is, he
may not be able to do well in class if he is not
made to pass through teacher training programme.
“The President’s pronouncement is like passing vote
of no confidence on teachers’ education, hence, all
colleges and faculties of education should be
scrapped.”added Mr Fowowe.
If you are considering 500,000 graduates into the
teaching sector, they should be tested and trusted.
“Those who have been trained for three years in
colleges of education or four years in faculties of
education are the ones saddled with the sole
responsibility of teaching because, they have been
equipped with innovative and basic skills.