Recently, a quality re-training opportunity presented itself to Nigerian teachers. Intervention approached Mrs Joyce Ayodele Elemson, the key player in the process to get to understand what it is all about
What does this stand for and what exactly is the essence?
CPD stands for continuing professional development. It is a gold standard and global requirement for all practising teachers from the early years’ stage to the university level. The essence is this. Nigeria, the most populated and largest economy in Africa features constantly on international media for various reasons ranging from political developments to insurgency in the far North eastern parts. While the free education provision by the state is appreciated by the masses in comparison to other Sub-Saharan African countries, more measures must be in place to support and strengthen the provision through increased enrolments, quality teaching and learning, youth development and employability. Nigeria’s population stands at nearly 200million with over 60% youth representation.
A common fact that the growth and development of a nation rely heavily on the education system has initiated Nigerian youths’ response to the changing needs of the 21stcentury with its digitally evolving nature. Teachers are thus entrusted with the responsibility to impart appropriate skills to learners so that they can effectively participate in global development. It is with this backdrop that teachers need to respond to innovative teaching and learning skills through the provision of CPD. As I already stated, it stands for continuing professional development and it is a gold standard and global requirement for all practising teachers from the early years’ stage to the university level. As new pedagogic methodologies emerge, institutions of learning must expose such to teachers to strengthen their practice and ultimately enhance learners’ learning experience through increased learning outcomes, improved quality and robust skillset per learner. It is a known fact that at the beginning of the academic year in some countries, dates are scheduled for CPD sessions in the academic year planner and printed off for learners to share with their parents. Teachers are fully informed of sessions to be executed in the course of year while provision is made for any emerging teacher needs to be addressed on special dates. It is such provision that measures CPD effectiveness.
The surrounding controversy and ultimate question is: who is responsible for CPD provision?
It is the government; especially the federal ministry of education and private education providers. It is unfortunate that the federal ministry of education’s web site bears no reference to CPD or indeed any professional development. Private education providers with a measure of autonomy are however responsive based on a visible competition to raise publicity and distinguish their provision from other private institutions.
What has been the experience?
It has been a satisfying experience for me to plug the holes in the lack of professional development by providing consultancy services to some schools in Lagos, Ogun, Kaduna, Ondo states and Abuja. Evolving into a teacher CPD project conceived in 2013, and in complementing a World Bank project in the same year, a total of 3000 teachers have been trained in CPD modules which originate from the UK but equally appropriate to Nigeria. Modules such as Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity, a by-product of the Widening Participation policy were carefully designed and contextualised for the Nigerian education system. Innovative techniques such as visible teaching according to learning styles under various subjects have proved popular with some schools. Improving pedagogical strategies through modern techniques has been delivered on numerous occasions including emphasis on the incorporation of digital skills into teachers’ practice. Tactfully, teachers have been able to identify and eliminate weak practice, embrace good practice and implement newly acquired pedagogies into their practice. The project has also conceived a sub-project called CPD4IDT-continuing professional development for internally displaced teachers in collaboration with Professor John Dada of Fantsuam Foundation.
On accusation, I had to turn attention to government teachers in Lagos and Ondo states (they responded with minimal protocol from their superiors). Foremost of the principals who responded positively is Otunba Dele Olapeju, a former principal of Kings College, Lagos. He was ready to embrace professional development when in 2014, he mobilised 123 teachers to attend a session I delivered at no cost except for token charges for resources. Since then, he has promoted CPD and indeed institutionalised CPD culture in Kings College, FGGC Akure and FGC Ido-ani. Although retired, Otunba is working tirelessly by utilising his time, resources and influence to raise education quality in Nigeria.
The progress of this journey led to discussions with fellow colleagues of African descent in the UK. It was discovered that these colleagues shared similar vision to transfer these teaching and learning skills to Africa under various rationales such as giving back to their communities of origin or simply improving life opportunities for young ones. This led to an event, a seminar and the conception of UKAPES – UK Africa Professional Educators’ Seminar, a UK not for profit community interest company or organisation. With positive winds of change on our side, the seminar which was held in April 2016, coincided with global consultations organised by the Education Commission headed by Gordon Brown, UK’s ex prime minister. We were invited to submit a consultation on global education financing, to which we favourably responded. Professor John Dada of Fantsuam Foundation had kindly initiated and supported the consultation.
So, where does UKAPES fit in?
UKAPES under strong demands from friends and supporters has evolved into an organisation with its web site informing interested ones of our mission to initiate, collate and transfer teaching and learning skills from the UK to Africa. Interest in the organisation has stimulated many experienced teachers to take back their expertise to Africa, to develop the education sector, ‘skill up youths’ and offer global opportunities for prospectively marginalised African youths. The future is looking up in rising to the challenge by utilising scarce resources to make this mission a reality. Under this context, two free seminars were organised and advertised on social media for teachers in Abuja and Lagos to which a total of 350 teachers responded. In spite of unsuccessful sponsorship requests from prominent organisations, which are not unconnected to time constraints, the seminars took place successfully in both cities. It presented an opportunity to promote CPD, promote UKAPES, raise an awareness of CPD and its integration into the Nigerian education system and also networking opportunities among local teachers. Currently, UKAPES is offering free membership subscriptions to practising teachers across Africa.
What then becomes the objective in mind at the end of the day?
An objective that must be achieved is the embracing of CPD to support teachers which in turn maximises learning outcomes for our youths. It has the power to change mindsets, overhaul certain attitudes, advance tolerance, eliminate prejudice and more importantly empower youths with the right skills to effectively participate in a dynamic world. So, our essence is to expand and entrench the innovation in Nigeria.