This is the last of my series on “Improving teachers’ image” and I will be discussing regulations ethics/code of conduct for the teaching profession. As noted when I began writing some six weeks ago, this series was inspired by the NEDIS Education Innovation Summit 2019 held last month in Lagos, in which I featured as plenary speaker on the topic: “Improving the image of the Teaching Profession: A Session with the Media”.
After sorting out the problem of teacher training, improving the teaching and learning environment by rehabilitating school facilities and providing relevant resources, paying teachers livable wages, and fixing the attitudes of teachers, then the system must provide the cement to hold everything together – a framework that guide how teachers practice the profession that details what is acceptable and what is not. This framework should also spell sanctions for going against the ethics of the profession. The common professional misconducts that occur in the education system include aiding examination malpractice, sexual abuse, and extortion.
At the summit, I said beyond registration and assessment of professional teachers, the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN) should not just bark, but be able to bite – sanction erring teachers by withdrawing their licenses if caught committing the offences mentioned above and more.
I did not know then that the TRCN Act even made provision for a Teachers’ Investigation Panel (TIP) to investigate acts of misconduct against teachers at all levels. I stumbled on the surprising find while surfing the net for more details about the council.
The bit about TIP on the TRCN website (http://trcn.gov.ng/file/Introducing%20TRCN.pdf) reads: “TEACHERS INVESTIGATING PANEL (TIP): In 2007, TRCN rolled out the drums again as the State Chief Judges installed members of the Teachers Investigation Panel for every state of the federation including the Federal Capital Territory. It was historic. Thereafter, the TIP of the various states and FCT have been inducted unto their jobs and have started their responsibilities in earnest.
The TRCN Act has given every state the opportunity to appreciate that the TIP is to work for the good of the Education system of their states. Consequently, the TIPs are simply the nominees of their states and cannot perform any magic if the stakeholders of the states do not see the reason for their existence. Yes, the TIPs are federal panels by nature but they are also established for the good of the states. It therefore must take the active support and partnership of TRCN and the states for the TIPs to succeed. The law is clear about the role of the TIPs. They are to investigate allegations/cases of professional misconduct against registered teachers so as to report significant cases to the Teachers Tribunal for prosecution.
The law further holds the heads of educational institutions liable for any failure to bring cases of professional misconduct, negligence or incompetence to the TIP. This is the most critical issue concerning Vice Chancellors, Rectors, Provosts, Deans of Faculties of Education, ANCOPSS and COPSHON, etc in the present dispensation. However, as good citizens, everyone (teachers, parents, students, media and the general public) is also expected to report the necessary cases professional misconduct, incompetence or negligence by registered teachers to the TIPs.”
I doubt many teachers, not to talk of members of the public, know about TIP. Obviously, the law is ineffective. The government should do a review to make this law more effective. If teachers, like doctors, are aware that their unwholesome conduct could bar them from the classroom, they would be more careful about sharing ‘expo’ or collecting money from parents to improve their children’s grades, or sexually assaulting their students or anyone at all.