EDITORIAL: Assessment Brouhaha

June 14, 2012

About 16,000 teachers in primary and secondary schools in Ekiti State on June 4 boycotted the Teachers’ Development Needs Assessment (TDNA) test, organised by the state government. According to the government, the test was to “enhance the capacity of the teachers and improve their performance”. It also said that the assessment was “neither a promotion examination nor aimed at sacking teachers who perform poorly”.

But the state Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), which also directed its members to down tools in reaction to the decision, argued that the test was aimed at cutting down the number of teachers in the state. They claimed that “after similar examinations were conducted for top officers of the local government service commission and head teachers of public secondary schools last year, some of them were “either sacked or demoted”.

Although the NUT had directed its members to resume work on June 7, there is the need to critically examine the fundamental issues at stake. First, Ekiti State government has the right to conduct tests, or remedial courses, for its employees, the teachers. Secondly, the teachers have the right to fear the unknown, especially as they had cited a precedent where a similar test in the past led to the sacking and demotion of some officers of the local government service commission and heads of public secondary schools.

As for the teachers’ fear of the unknown, the state government has come out categorically that there would be no such thing, and that the exercise was in their own interest as it has the advantage of using it to ascertain individual’s level of academic performance. We agree with this, and especially so when the government also assured that those who failed to measure up to standard would have the opportunity to improve on their knowledge and quality of teaching.

Clearly, the teachers’ fears were unnecessary and unjustified. If they pushed their position too far, we can only come to one conclusion, i.e., their fear was an admission of intellectual laziness that could be exposed by their possible failure if they took the proposed assessment test. We believe that some of the teachers who are sure of themselves would have taken the assessment test if the NUT had not ordered them to boycott it.

However, it is generally known that some examinations are routinely held for the purpose of promotion in the civil service, the teaching service not exempted. It is therefore not unlikely that the government might want to use the information got from the aborted exercise to initiate promotions for brilliant teachers.

The test was also important in bringing up to date the teachers’ knowledge of the subjects they teach, especially in this age of high technology that keeps changing at an astonishing rapidity. In this case, assessment test might help some lazy teachers and even hard working ones to update their knowledge acquisition from reading and the internet. Surely, teachers should be up to date in the knowledge of the subjects they teach and even the ones they do not teach. Since knowledge is dynamic, every teacher should endeavour to brush up his/her knowledge and bring it up to date on a periodic basis. Failure to do this would reduce the teachers to miserable deadwoods.

We are surprised that teachers in a state reputed to be ‘Fountain of Knowledge’ are running away from acquisition of knowledge that would have been verified through an assessment test that is in their interest and intellectual development. The teachers should settle down for the assessment test in order to prove their mettle. It is in their interest as well as that of Ekiti State. They can only express fears if they think the exercise is unlikely to be fair. Teachers who are miserable deadwoods cannot produce outstanding students.

 

This Editorial was first published in The Nation on June 14, 2012. 

Last modified: June 14, 2012

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