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Protocols I welcome you, my dear colleagues, to this gathering that I choose to refer to as the Elders Forum in the noble profession of teaching. This is not to flatter you or inflate your ego. The status of the Principal Teacher has always been conferred on those who have the qualification, experience and professional maturity, especially of interpersonal relationship, as shown in exemplary track record as a follower while serving in the lower wrungs of the seniority ladder. I remember when late Governor Bola Ige was invited as a guest to the University of Ibadan during his tenure. The students of Educational Management asked to be appointed as Principals of schools straight from graduation, because according to them, they were being trained to manage schools, not to teach. The Cicero himself replied that he would not give the leadership of any school to people who could not teach, because they would not themselves be able to administer teachers unless they had been teachers. According to him, late Papa Alayande was known as a schoolmaster, even though he was a veteran Principal. That put paid to the demand of our trainees, some of whom may be here today. This reference is being made to show that this forum is qualified to discuss professionalisation of teaching because it is comprised of professional teachers who, have climbed the ladder of seniority based on qualification, experience and good performance. It is difficult to understand the pangs of childbirth unless one has been in labour before. You have taught (and are some still teaching?) so; you know what it means to be a practising teacher.

Once again I

welcome you to our forum. Although I started out an a teacher in 1972, I did not become professionally qualified until ten years later, when I obtained the postgraduate Diploma in Education in the University of Ibadan. Since then, I have been privileged to graduate to the position of being a


teacher to professional teachers in training. gratifying







It is therefore very





professionalisation of teaching not only to the professional teachers but to the nation as a whole.

I would attempt to carry out this

assignment by answering the following questions: What is a Profession? What is teaching? Why teaching as a profession? What are the benefits of professionalisation? This paper will be concluded by a very brief allusion to the efforts of









professionalisation of Teaching. What is a Profession? The chambers 20th Century dictionary defines a profession as: An employment not mechanical and requiring some degree of learning; calling, habitual employment, the collective body of persons engaged in any profession1. It is noteworthy that this definition specifically states that teaching is “not mechanical�, i.e. it is not a trade that you learn by observation as we have in the apprenticeship system.

Again, a

profession requires some degree of learning, so it is knowledge based. The longer it takes to learn, the higher the professional status rating. This perhaps explains why graduates of course which take longer years to specialize in are also accorded higher status ratings than those which take less time to qualify. Again, a profession is not parttime work. It is habitual employment. Some professions do not have regular hours of work.

For example, doctors can be called to work

anytime of the day. This makes it near impossible to combine medical


practice with any other work.

It is also rare to hear people say

something like: “I’m part-time lawyer but a full-time banker”. The last in the definitions refers to the people in the practice of a profession.

By implication, it means that this collective body here

present today can be referred ass a professional body of teacher just as we have the body of benchers, (i.e. the members of legal disciplinary council). Professionalism dates back to the Renaissance period when three professions were dominant. medicine




These were Catholic priesthood,






architecture, accountancy, banking, journalism among others. Here, we shall focus on the professional status of teaching because of the social roles of the teacher as a member of a society. Literature







professional status as: •

absolute knowledge by professional

professional life and training

professional oath-taking

professional pride and commitment

control of entry

freedom to practice the profession.3 In our ICT – dependent world, it becomes difficult for any

professional claim ABSOLUTE knowledge in any area, judging by the rate at which new knowledge renders its antecedents obsolete. Professional life and training while still relevant, can also be acquired via electronic and other devices as we have with the training of software engineers and other related professions. Oath taking is not a


part of the training: it is administered after training and prior to entry into






commitment and control of entry remain vital to professionalisation, especially when we discuss teaching as a profession. What is Teaching? Again







teaching as The act, practice, or profession of giving instruction …4 From this meaning we can see that teaching can have twodimensional meaning, i.e. as •

an intellectual activity, and,

a profession. Both interpretations are relevant to this discussion because the

professional status rating of the teacher is highly dependent on his/her intellectual status rating by students. According to Bamisaiye (1989) generally, students respect the knowledgeable but firm teacher and are contemptuous of teachers who would rather be friends with learners than address themselves to the work to be done. They expect emotional caring more from home than from school, and more professional efficiency from the teacher. From this, we can see that professional status is achieved, according to teacher’s performance level.5 However, while individual status rating of the teacher depends on his/her efficiency as perceived by the learners under his/her tutelage, professional status rating is legal, i.e. established by law and therefore a constitutional matter which is independent of learners opinion. One needs to add quickly that in countries where teaching enjoys high professional status, inefficiency in classroom practice can lead to revocation of teacher’s licence.


As a profession, teaching is the performance of a specialized social role. Teaching like other professions is operated on the socioeconomic principle of division of labour and specialisation. In order for society to optimize the abilities of her workforce, there is need for people to specialize in different professions, one of which is teaching. In order to be an efficient and effective professional, however there is need for professional training and preparation for practice.

Part of

this professional training is the development in the training, apart from knowledge of academic subject matter, knowledge of principles and practice of teaching at the levels of •


know-how, and,

expertise Skill is “the ability to act according to rules which depend on

feedback from a non-social environment”. One can say that student teachers undergo this during professional practice when they are gradually allowed to teach while being supervised and provided with appropriate feedback. Know-how “includes skill and is the ability to act in social context with reference to an institution authority which decides the rules”. This can be compared with our present experience of teaching while being subject to government inspection or conditions stipulated by government agencies like the Teachers Registration council. Expertise on the other hand is “ability of know-how within a certain domain and the ability not only to submit to the rules but also by reflection influence the rules of the domain or tradition”. While skill acquisition is a product of professional preparation, one can say that this graduates to the practice of such skill according to rules.

This also leads to development of capacity for both


professional and collective autonomy of professionals to influence professional practice according to social needs. Why Teaching as a Profession? As earlier said, professions emerged as a response to the need for division of labour and specialisation – a socio-economic principle for ensuring optimal use of available resources in a society.


regards to teaching, one can say that this need is perhaps more compelling than with other professions while we do not contest the importance of any. Whereas it is not feasible for every citizen to be a doctor, lawyer, judge, engineer, IT IS EXPEDIENT FOR EVERY CHILD TO GO TO SCHOOL.

One therefore needs to declare a state of

emergency to ensure professionalisation of teaching in order for Nigeria to be able to achieve education for all by 2015 as agreed in Jomtien in 1990. If teaching is to be a profession indeed and not in name, the three important conditions which have been earlier identified need to be met.

These are: Professional autonomy,

professional commitment and control of entry. Professional autonomy, according to Akinpelu (2003) implies “collective






enforcement of professional standards of practice and ethics”6 quoted Darling-Hammond as follows: Ultimately, professionalism requires collective control by teachers over the technical decisions that define teaching work, and collective responsibility for the appropriate treatment of students. This means not only peer review of practice, but also means a reconception of administration as a support function rather than a mechanism for the control of teaching7


and He

The very meaning of professional autonomy therefore implies complete freedom from government control when deciding conditions for entry and professional practice for teachers. This is still a far cry from our present experience of professionalisation at present in Nigeria. teaching.

Control of entry is very vital to the professionalisation of This is done in all professions.

Unless access to any

profession is controlled, it becomes an all-comers arena and therefore, nobody’s responsibility to promote, nurture, protect or project as it should be. Nothing precious is cheaply accessible. Gold is part of the earth, but you need to dig deep to get it. Some people think that the reason for the apparent weak professional status of teaching is the indefinability of teachers’; clientele.

They argue that whereas we teachers deal with young

children, adolescents and young adults, it is actually their parents or guardians that are responsible for their upkeep in schools.


teachers cannot exercise the same control over learners as lawyers would over their mature adult clients. This can be readily contested. Pediatricians are professional doctors who care for infants and young children.

We do not rate them lower professionally than their

counterparts who treat adult patients. It is not the clientele. It is the way we rate our profession that we get rated.

One sees how other

professionals try hard to ensure that their children succeed them in their profession. I humbly ask this forum: how many of us ever pray, wish, or counsel our children to take up teaching as a profession? Whereas professional autonomy and control of entry can be decreed or legislated, professional commitment is a value that becomes a lifestyle of practice of the professional. Referring to a book titled The Ministry of Teaching by M. V. C. Jeffreys, Akinpelu (2005) reported. M. V. C. Jeffreys ‌ defined the concept of commitment in three perspectives of acute 8

intellectual engagement, profound emotional involvement and complete physical dedication to whatever one is committed to … whatever one is committed to should be cognitively justifiable as being worthy of one’s attention; it would be something which readily excites one’s curiosity and anxiety; and it would be one for which one is ready to ‘pay any price and bear any burden’ to see it succeed8 From this quotation we can see that commitment is ingrained in the concept of a profession. One implies the other. A profession is chosen because we are committed to it. We are committed to whatever work we choose as a profession because it is our life-wire.


therefore, we are in a profession and go to work part-time (in order to earn salary) and allow other activities to take priority over our profession; we need to check our commitment level.

Allow me to

illustrate the concept of commitment by the popular fable of a good farmer, his cock his hen and his pig. One day, the pig told the hen and the cock, that he overheard their masters’ wife telling his children of their father’s approaching birthday.

According to the pig, everybody wanted to do something

special for this kind farmer. The pig then asked what they could do for their master.

The cock volunteered to go round the village and

crow from house to house to invite people to feast with his master. The hen volunteered to give all her eggs for the family to cook, breakfast that day.

And the pig?

He volunteered to provide

hamburgers and sausages for the party!… One is not saying that we should literally commit suicide in order to demonstrate our commitment to teaching. classroom in the grave.

There is no

However, whatever we commit our lives to,

makes us dead to alternatives, and so in a way we have committed



The unfailing key to success in any endeavour is focus.

When we give to teaching what it takes, it delivers to us what it contains. I say with proof from experience before this elders forum that teaching CONTAINS A LOT OF BENEFITS, some of which are: •

good health: teaching is a healthy exercise and keeps obesity in check

mental alertness: teaching is an intellectual activity that stimulates you and keeps you mentally active.

social relevance: as a priest is the interpreter of his God, the teacher is the interpreter of society’s values from generation to generation.


teaching gives us families across cultures and

nationalities – our students are sometimes closer to us than our biological children (e.g. (late Rev. L. d. Mason, Pa E. O. Alayande, Canon Iluyomade and others). •


we have treasures that money cannot buy – the

cultivated minds that continue to build nations into posterity. When we critically examine the values that make life worth living, teachers project them all.

And money? All these values either

attract money to us or imply money. Money is only meaningful when there is good health to enjoy it, and a healthy person can always find ways of making money. Money is a messenger but good health is not for sale. We shall however look at tangible benefits of teaching as a profession later. The







Professionalisation of Teaching It is gratifying that our government has gone beyond paying lipservice to the need for professionalisation of teaching by setting up the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria.

In our times when what

makes news is the failure rate, rather than the success rate of our


students we have to honestly accept that we need to “tune up” our level of commitment to play our own part as professionals of excellence.

This makes the following mandatory for anybody who

desires to be a registered teacher of the federal Republic of Nigerian in our times. •

Professional qualification: This ranges from NCE to Ph.D in education.

This means that teachers are categorized as

follows: A Class – Holders of Ph.D in education or Ph.D in other fields and a degree/certificate/diploma in education (e.g. PGDE, NCE). B class – Holders of Masters degree in Education or Masters in other fields plus education (e.g. PGDE, NCE). C class – Holders of Bachelors degree in Education or Bachelors in other fields plus education (e.g. PGDE, NCE). D class – Holders of National Certificate r equivalent TCII certificate are deemed to have expired at the end of 20069 Legal Requirements for Registration •

Pass qualifying examination and complete practical teaching as prescribed by the council

Possess a foreign professional teaching qualification from a country which permits Nigerian professional teachers to practice in her system.

Attainment of 21 years of age

Good character

No record of past criminal offence10 In addition to these, we teachers are expected to undergo

internship after graduation, obtain and renew our professional licence


annually and undergo continuing professional education in order to update








Distinguished colleagues, I have earlier identified what can be called the qualitative benefits of teaching as a profession. Let us conclude this paper by briefly identifying the more tangible benefits of teaching as a profession. •

Legal Status - This accords us financial benefits of special scale salaries as other professions.

In the long run, as

custodians of the professional practice, we would be the most qualified owners of educational institutions if we choose to go into private practice. •

Freedom of the professional to teach both within and outside Nigerian once we are certified by TRIN

Participation in all TRIN activities.

Appendage of Professional titles prefixes to the name of the professional as determined by the TrIN. In order to protect our profession from abuse, the TRIN has also

put in place two organs to provide checks and balances on the conduct of professionals. Firstly, it is now illegal to teach in any school in Nigeria without a teaching qualification. Whoever employs an unqualified person as a teacher is also liable of criminal act. Secondly, we now have a Teacher’s Tribunal in Abuja to enforce discipline of errant professionals who have been investigated and found liable of misconduct. This is like the medical tribunal or the body of benchers.

In the different states, we have the Teachers

investigation Panels (TIP) who are appointed and sworn into office to investigate reported cases of misconduct and recommend to the tribunal at Abuja as appropriate.


Dear colleagues and elders, you will agree with me that the era of all-comers’ trespass into the hallowed landscape of the teaching profession is over. It is now our responsibility to protect and improve on this priceless heritage that has been committed to us in our generation. My prayer is that we shall not fail those coming after us. May the golden scepter of honour not depart from the teaching profession in Jesus name. Thank you all for listening. References 1.

Macdonald, A. M. (Ed.) (1981).

Chambers Twentieth Century

Dictionary, Edingburg, W. & R Chambers. 2.

Bamisaiye, Remi (1989).

Sociological Foundations of Nigerian

Education, Ibadan AMD publishers P. 158. 3.

Ibid. P. 158-161.


Macdonald, A. M. (Ed.) Op. cit


Bamisaiye, Op.cit. p. 155


Akinpelu, J. A. Ethics and the Teaching Profession in Oluremi Ayodele-Bamisaiye, I. A. Nwazuoke and Abiodun Okediran (eds) Education this Millennium – Innovations in Theory and Practice, Ibadan Macmillan Nigeria Publishers P. 8




Akinpelu, J. A. (2005). Themes in Philosophy of Education for Teachers Ibadan, Tafak Publications. P. 78





Teacher’s Code of Conduct, p. 13. 10.

Ibid. 86








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