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Setting standards for teaching professionals

Beaming with pride: An education graduate receives her registration certificate from TRCN’s Director of Operations, Dr Steve Nwokeocha

Cooperation is the current buzzword in the corridors of the Africa Forum of Teaching Regulatory Authorities in Africa (AFTRA). A new kid on the education block, AFTRA aims to promote teaching standards Continent-wide and to facilitate better cooperation between members. What’s behind the drive?

With the support of UNESCO in October 2010, the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), the South African Council for Educators (SACE) and the International Forum of Teaching Regulatory Authorities (IFTRA) came together for a roundtable discussion of the various issues that have been holding back progress in the formulation of international standards in the teaching profession. It was through these deliberations that AFTRA was founded.

Steve Nwokeocha, the TRCN’s Director of Operations,  says that the work that AFTRA is doing is long overdue.  “Thus far, the regulations followed by Africa’s various professional teaching boards have lacked harmony, and there has been insufficient cooperation amongst researchers. That’s where AFTRA comes in. We’re still a young organisation, but we are already building up the type of synergy that will get us to establish sound, global benchmarks for what we expect teachers to accomplish as professionals.”

AFTRA’s first Annual Teaching and Learning in Africa Conference will be held in Cotonou, Benin alongside eLearning Africa. Nwokeocha explains, “We chose to meet at this time because eLearning Africa is Africa’s biggest intellectual summit. It attracts educators who are addressing some of the same issues we as teaching professionals are dealing with, so there is much scope for cooperation.” Establishing best-practice guidelines for ICT-enhanced education is a matter that AFTRA must address. But with differing levels of ICT infrastructure and uptake in the member countries, are such plans feasible? Nwokeocha says that this has indeed been a challenge. “In Nigeria, we declared 2006 the Year of ICT and went on a major drive to train teachers in eLearning practices. However, TRCN has had to bear the costs of transporting, feeding and accommodating trainee teachers, an expensive route that was possible only through the support of the World Bank, UNESCO and USAID.” A more viable plan is to charge money for the registration of teachers – an essential consideration if teaching is to rise to the professional standards desired. “Up until now, in Nigeria, teachers have simply graduated from colleges without necessarily having any affiliation with a university. We now expect them to have university training so that we can increase the skill level of those who will in turn be educating the nation.”

Eventually, the standards and practices in place across Africa will need to be harmonised, and thus AFTRA’s first forays into collaboration across the Continent have been met with guarded optimism in most quarters. Without naming names, Nwokeocha says, “The countries that have been reluctant to join AFTRA typically don’t have teaching regulatory authorities set up, but this apathy will probably fade away as AFTRA increases its dialogue with ministries of education across Africa.  We have to start somewhere, and we’re doing so right now!”

AFTRA’s first Annual Teaching and Learning in Africa Conference takes place alongside eLearning Africa 2012 on Wednesday, May 23rd in Cotonou, Benin.

3 Comments

  1. This is a great move!! Finally the teaching profession in Africa will have a harmonised stand!

  2. Malual Majok Ring Gum

    I am happy to read about the initiative on setting standards for Teaching Professionals in Africa. And as stated by educationists that, teacher is the core of the quality education, on basis that qualified teachers lead to better learners’ performance.

    To have a quality education in Africa, it requires more academic dialogues to sett the standards for the Teaching Professionals. However, I had a plan to attend the first conference which is now taking place, but due to some problems I could not make it.
    We shall very much appreciate, if your organization would serve us with the outcome of the the Conference which is taking place now.
    I am an Instractor of College of Education, Department of Pedagogy, University of Bahr el Ghazal, South Sudan.

  3. Bosede Aworuwa

    Standardizing teaching profession is a laudable idea. I agree that it has long been overdue, but it is better late than never. Fortunately, there are models of teacher certification all over the world which can be adapted to fit our particular situations. Dialog should be taking place at various levels and with different organs that have jurisdictions over teacher preparation and certification. The general population needs to be informed of what is at stake in order to drum up support for it. Well done.

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