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ࡱ> #` nnbjbj\.\. .>D>Dnf%%%%,%<C2&(@&@&@&@&'''uCwCwCwCwCwCwC$(EhG>C:-'':-:-C@&@&C333:-J@&@&uC3:-uC33BhQC@& & v%2}BuCC0CBGZ3^G QCGQC$'(D3%*)+'''CC3 '''C:-:-:-:-d`D`  TEACHERS TRAINING THROUGH DISTANCE EDUCATION: THE NIGERIAN EXPERIENCE Dr. A. M. Mohammed Director & Chief Executive, National Teacher Institute, P. M. B. 2191, Kaduna - Nigeria e-mail:  HYPERLINK "mailto:ntikad@inet-global.com" ntikad@inet-global.com,  HYPERLINK "mailto:ntikad@yahoo.com" ntikad@yahoo.com In the Third National Development Plan (1975 1980), the Federal Government of Nigeria provided for the establishment of free and universal primary education for all Nigerians by 1980. The total enrolment in the countrys primary schools just prior to 1975 amounted to 4,746,808 pupils and it was envisaged that enrolment in primary class I in 1976-1977 would rise to 2.3 million pupils, making in all 7.4 million primary school pupils for that year, and with a forecast of 11.5 million students for 1980 and a further increase to 14.1 million by 1982. The Universal Primary Education (UPE) scheme was launched in 1976. The projected enrolment of 7.4 million pupils into primary class one was over-shot by over 800,000. This dramatic increase in primary school population necessitated a corresponding increase in the size of the teaching force. The number of primary school teachers was expected to increase threefold during the period from the initial 130,000 of 1976, with a resulting need to recruit and train a huge teaching body. Current estimates then indicated that 60% of the 274,073 teachers were less than fully qualified and this meant, in essence, that well over 280,000 persons needed to be trained by 1982. The immediate reaction of the Government to the problem of teacher shortage was to launch an emergency teacher training programme in 1974/75. The Government also recruited a large number of untrained personnel to teach in schools. Mindful of the effects these actions would have on the quality of education the government decided to establish the National Teachers Institute (NTI) in Kaduna to provide professional training for the unqualified and under qualified teachers in the schools. NTIs remit was also to update the teachers on a continuous basis. The Government directed the Institute to use distance learning techniques for its operations. In one of its reports (UNESCO, 1975: 33), the UNESCO mission, which prepared the project document for the establishment of the Institute, argued that a Federal institution of this kind, designed to improve the quality of basic education throughout the country, and functioning with the support and cooperation of the different states, would best meet the specific needs and potential of Nigeria as a whole. The institution would serve, in addition, as a production centre for instructional materials and as a field service linked with, and operating through, the educational services of individual states. The advantages of a distance education system were also set out in the mission Report. In particular, attention was drawn to its use in overcoming the problems posed by education in remote areas and in catering for widely scattered student bodies. Emphasis was also given to its flexibility as an educational method, the possibility it offers of training teachers without taking them away from their jobs, the ease with which it could be modified or adapted to new conditions once the operations network was set up and, finally, its cost-effectiveness. Over the years, the expansion in primary school enrolment has continued to put pressure on teacher supply mechanism in the country. There are two main levels of teacher education currently existing in Nigeria. One at degree level is offered by the University Faculties of Education. The Institutes of Education of the Universities also run some certificate and diploma teacher education courses. The other level of teacher training is the Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE), which is delivered mainly in the Colleges of Education. Before the adoption of a new National Policy on Education in 1981, the Teachers Grade II Certificate (TC II) was the prescribed minimum teaching qualification in the school system. The TC II was a five-year programme for primary school certificate holders and it was offered in the Teachers Colleges. In an effort to improve the quality of education, the new National Policy on Education prescribed the Nigeria Certificate in Education as the ultimate minimum teaching qualification. More Colleges of Education were established, recruiting senior secondary school leavers and TC II holders for a three-year course leading to the award of the NCE. The NCE holders are being produced to teach at the primary and junior secondary levels. There are about 65 Colleges of Education nationwide providing pre-service teacher education at NCE level. Despite these many Colleges of Education, there is still a predominance of TC II teacher and untrained teachers in the country. This situation influenced the focus of the Institutes programmes which is directed towards upgrading unqualified teachers. The Institutes Training Programmes Since its establishment the Institute has mounted three training programmes for different categories of teachers. These programmes are: The Teachers Grade II Certificate by Distance Learning System (TC II (DLS), which was designed to upgrade teachers who did not have TC II. Most of the teachers in this category, though trained, had deficiencies in one or more subjects which they needed to remedy to qualify for the award of the TC II. There are also the untrained teachers who through the programme receive pedagogical training in order to make them effective in the classroom. Since 1984, when the TC II by DLS commenced, more than 370,000 teachers have benefited from it with a current enrolment of 134,947. The Nigerian Certificate in Education by Distance Learning (NCE DLS) was introduced in 1990 in response to the provision in the new National Policy on Education that the Nigeria Certificate in Education would become the ultimate minimum teaching qualification in the school system. The programme targets the TC II holders in the service for upgrading to NCE level. In addition to upgrading teachers for the successful implementation of the National Policy on Education, the programme also provides the basic background for those teachers who may later wish to pursue their studies at higher levels. In the first year of the programme over 30,000 students enrolled. Of the 29,000 students that completed the course in 1993, 24,359 were successful. Since then 28,031 further students have graduated. The Pivotal Teacher Training Programme by Distance Learning System (PTTP DLS): The Pivotal Teacher Training Programme (PTTP) is the newest in the Institutes teacher training programmes. It was launched in August 2000. This is a pre-service programme, introduced as a stop-gap measure to cater for the teacher demand of the Universal Basic Education (UBE) programme started in September 1999. It was estimated that an additional 1.12 million pupils would be enrolled into Primary 1 in October 2000. This enrolment would require an additional 30,000 teachers in 2000 alone and every year for the next six years, a number that is beyond what the Colleges of Education in Nigeria could produce. The programme is of 18 months duration designed to train 40,000 teachers every year. Graduates of this programme will later enroll for upgrading to NCE level (see Umar; 2003). Of the 39,920 students admitted in the first year of the programme. 38,122 completed the programme and 28,542 of this number qualified for the award of the PTC. The second set of 29,326 students wrote their final examination in November 2003. Programme Implementation In deciding what strategies to adopt in implementing the distance education teacher training programmes the Institute gave due consideration to the following: Reaching a large number of students irrespective of their location in the country; Providing training facilities close to students so that they do not cover long distances whenever the need arises; Planning the programmes so as to have minimum disruption in the activities of host institutions and the schools where the student-teachers are primarily engaged; Selecting a delivery mode that takes into consideration accessibility and affordability; Developing course materials that take into consideration the fact that learners in the programme are on their own most of the time and learning at their own pace; Providing programme structures that are flexible enough to accommodate individual differences; Providing qualitative programmes that would make the products comparable to those from conventional institutions using the same curriculum, and Being conscious enough to make the programme affordable to students and cost-effective to the country. The considerations listed above influenced the Institutes organizational structure, programme management, programme delivery, assessment procedure and quality assurance mechanisms. The Institute operates through a network of Zonal and State Offices established across the country to promote effective communication with all stakeholders in the programmes and engender efficiency in programme management. Policies regarding the management and administration of the programmes emanate from the headquarters and are channelled through these offices while feedback reach the headquarters through the same channel. Study centres are established where students assemble for face-to-face contact sessions during weekends and for intensive contact sessions during the vacations. At the Study Centres part time course tutors, recruited from conventional institutions, provide tutorials, give assignments, supervise practicals, provide counselling, and supervise examinations. The contact sessions are also used to minimize the effects of isolation which is a feature of distance education. They provide a forum for socialization between tutors and students on the one hand and among students on the other. There are a total of 1425 study centres for the three programmes (834 for TC II, 171 for PTTP and 420 for NCE). The study centres are located in existing institutions that have adequate facilities for teacher training. The Institute entered into some arrangement with the Institutions to make their facilities available to NTI students while the Institute pays what is referred to as Study Centre Incentive to the Institutions. The NTI provides consumables for science practicals and some games equipment for the Physical and Health Education subjects. Programme delivery is mainly by printed modular texts, supplemented with recorded audio and video cassettes. The selection of this medium has been informed by the fact that the majority of the students in the prograrmmes lives in rural areas where basic infrastructure like electricity and telephone services is not available. With the improvement in the expansion and efficiency of these services the Institute has commenced the production of diskettes and CD-Rom materials, especially for those students in urban centres with access to computers and for use in the Study Centres. The Institute has remained conscious of the need to provide services at a modest cost to students, since the majority of the students are responsible for paying for their training. This explains why radio and television broadcasts have not been used by the Institute. The airtime charges by broadcast organizations in Nigeria are not within the reach of the Institute. Now that the Government is considering providing dedicated radio and television channels for educational broadcast, the Institute is preparing to take full advantage of these services. To this end the Institute, with the assistance of the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) has acquired an FM Stereo radio transmitters for producing quality radio broadcast materials. There is a Centre for Educational Technology (CET) in every Study centre where electronic and non-electronic materials are provided to support tutorials and micro-teaching. Each CET has at least a Computer and accessories, television set, video cassette player/recorder, Radio/cassette player recorder, still and video cameras, overhead projectors, charts, models, etc. To facilitate learning, especially as most of the students are coming in contact with distance learning system for the first time, Students Handbooks and Information Booklets on all aspect of the programmes are printed and distributed to students on registration for their courses. The NTI uses the same curricula as conventional training colleges, where similar programmes are offered. However, these curricula are modified to suit the demands of the distance education mode of the Institute. For example, while the NCE programme in the conventional college runs over a minimum of three years, the same programme runs over a minimum of four years by distance learning system. Course materials are developed with the assistance of resource persons from tertiary institutions, educational consultants and other specialists in the areas of need. Most often Conference writing strategy is adopted whereby resource persons assemble at designated points and work on their assignment over a specified period. This strategy is more costly to the Institute than the commissioned writing strategy but it ensures timely completion of assignments. All part-time staff engaged in the Institutes programmes must meet the national standards required for the tasks assigned. The part-time staff are engaged to perform different tasks like Centre Supervisors, Course Tutors, Writers and Editors, Examiners, Invigilator, Teaching Practice Moderators, Laboratory Attendant, etc. The NTI training programmes lead to the award of certificates. Therefore a system of assessment is put in place to determine who qualifies for the certificates. The assessment is made up of the Continuous Assessment (40%) and the end-of-programme examination (60%). Students are required to participate and pass the prescribed Teaching Practice for every programme, submit a supervised project (where required) and attain an attendance of 70% at contact sessions. In addition, students are required to pass the compulsory subjects in their programmes before they are eligible for the award of certificate. In the three programmes being offered, provision is made for carry-over of courses, withdrawal from and re-entry into the programmes. Quality Assurance The issue of the quality of teacher training by distance education generates a lot of discussion in Nigeria. Critics of the system most often speak from the perspective of their experience as products of conventional institutions and therefore their belief that only conventional institutions are suitable for producing quality teachers. There are those who have raised the issue of the limited contact between students and tutors and among students during the period of training as a weakness in teacher training by distance education. However, not many of the criticisms come by way of research. The available evidence from literature suggests that a large number of African countries are using distance education to train their teachers. Creed (2001: 11), indicates that developing countries, especially in Africa and Asia, where universal education policies led to huge challenges of quantity and quality in teacher supply, implemented distance education programmes to meet the numerical needs and to achieve economies of scale, noting that although initially conceived as stop-gap measure in these countries, distance education has remained a permanent tool for training teachers as the challenges of quantity and quality obstinately remained. Robinson, quoted in Murphy et al (2002:14) suggests that teacher training courses account for three quarters and half of all distance learning education courses in francophone and Anglophone Africa respectively. The widespread use of distance education for teacher training may suggest that is effective. Robinson (Robinson and Latchem; 2003: 195-196) draws some broad conclusions based on limited evaluation data available. Some of these conclusions that are applicable to NTI programmes are reproduced as follows: Successful completion rates for award-bearing programmes vary between 50-90%. Completion rate in NTI programmes is high because certificate acquisition is sometimes tied to things like promotion, new responsibilities in the school, requirement for political appointment, etc. Teachers on distance education courses have achieved results equivalent to conventionally trained teachers. NTI NCE by DLS operate the same Minimum standards as Colleges of Education, the programme is accredited by the same agency and same certificates are issued to successful students; Unqualified serving teachers on distance education courses for initial qualifications are often rated more highly on classroom teaching than newly qualified college equivalents. This is supported, in the case of NTI by research findings (see below). Perraton has also observed that while examination success cannot be equated with teaching capacity, we can legitimately assume that a reasonable examination pass rate demonstrates that a programme was effective in teaching academic subjects (see Robinson and Letcham; 2003: 45). Students performance in NTI examinations are generally reasonable, ranging between 47 and 77 per cent pass rate. Though no specific studies on the quality of NTI products are available, there are some general statements made on the quality of distance education that have some bearing on NTI programmes. For example, Agboola (2000) who conducted a study on the effectiveness of teacher education by distance learning but focusing on the NCE by Correspondence programme of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria concludes that training teachers by distance education is effective. Mohammed et al (2003) who also conducted a study on the impact of teacher training by distance education on the Community found that teacher training by distance learning was rated high by the various categories of respondents. Umar (2003: 10-11), using the reports submitted by mentors of the PTTP (an NTI pre-service programme) graduates, points out that the graduates performance was adequate in respect of lesson preparation, utilization of instructional aids, record keeping, communication and lesson evaluation. He concludes that in general the mentors rating of the interns does indicate that the PTTP graduates are generally effective. The Institute has demonstrated its commitment to quality teacher education by putting in place some mechanisms to assure quality in all its programmes. The mechanisms include the following: availability of quality modular self-instructional course materials; establishment of nodal/model centres in Colleges of Education; capacity building for part-time staff on the delivery and management of distance learning programmes; institutionalizing Quality Assurance Framework for PTTP and NCE by DLS; adoption of national Minimum Standards on each of its programmes; accreditation of NCE programme by agency with statutory responsibility; regular consultation with stakeholders on teacher education; regular monitoring of programmes; partnership with international organization that assist in institutional strengthening through capacity building and technical support. These organizations include COL, UNESCO, UNICEF, International Extension College (IEC) Cambridge, National Open School Institute of India, British Council and the World Bank). Major Outcomes The various actions described above have led to significant growth and development of NTI programmes in particular and education in the country in general. Among other things they have led to: increased enrolment and output in the programmes, thus narrowing the gap between teacher demand and supply, especially at primary school level; increased number of qualified teachers in the school. Teachers with TC II and its equivalent are being upgraded to NCE level the prescribed minimum teaching qualification; increased participation of female teachers in professional development, especially those who for socio-cultural, economic and religious reasons would not attend conventional institutions; increased participation of those willing to willing to pursue professional improvement in their teaching career but who could not leave their jobs and families for full-time courses in conventional colleges; an overall improvement in the quality of education in the country, especially as teachers receive on-the-job training and as such have the opportunity of immediately applying the skills acquired in their classrooms. Some Problems Like any other educational programme, the NTI distance education programmes are confronted with some problems. The most important of these is funding around which other problems revolve. Though the National Teachers Institute is a government agency, Government funding does not cover all aspects of the costs of running the programmes. Governments subvention covers recurrent and capital projects. The Institute is expected to generate fund from the programme to cover production and distribution of course materials, payment of part-time staff allowances, provision of additional materials at study centres, conduct of examinations and monitoring exercise. Students are charged fees but not enough to cover all the cost of programme delivery. Moreover, students debt profile is very high. In any particular year, less than 70% of projected revenue from fees is collected. The majority of the students are responsible for the payment of their fees as only a few state governments and Local Councils provide assistance to their students undergoing distance education programmes. The problem of inadequate funds affects other aspects of the programme, especially production of course materials. Sometimes course books are not printed or distributed on time and course tutors have had to resort to lecturing rather than providing tutorials. When this happens the programme loses its uniqueness of self-study with minimum teacher intervention except through course materials. The wide area covered by the programme and the dependence on road transportation for distribution of course materials require a large fleet of trucks which are maintained at huge costs. This constitutes a huge drain on the Institutes meager resources. Some Lessons The major lessons that the Institute could share with others in the same business of training teachers by distance education include the following: Partnership is very crucial to the successful implementation of teacher training by distance education. Partnership with international and local agencies, with communities and other stakeholders provides additional support and could positively influence the performance of the providing institution. Where facilities are available, multi-media approach to programme delivery should be adopted. But developing countries, especially African countries should give adequate consideration to accessibility and affordability to students and effectiveness in the programme delivery process. Networking among distance education institutions and personnel could provide opportunities for resource sharing and exchange of ideas. In a sense, this would further build the capacity of the institutions and personnel of distance education. If effective in-house training programme is put in place by a distance education institution, it would be more cost-effective to engage part-time staff and train them on tasks they are expected to perform than attempt a full complement of staff similar to a conventional institution. Cooperation with host institutions is a primary requirement for effective programme delivery especially where Study Centres are used. Since distance education institution may not be able to provide all the structure and facilities required at Study Centres, it becomes imperative to seek the cooperation of the host institutions in other to share their facilities. Conclusion This paper discusses the activities of the National Teachers Institute which was established to train and upgrade teachers using distance learning techniques. Its model may not necessarily rank among the best models but considering its modest achievements since its inception in 1976, it has contributed significantly in providing qualified teachers for the school system. The experience of the Institute shows that distance education is suitable for both in-service and pre-service teacher training. Some of the activities initiated and implemented by NTI were done within the context of the Nigerian environment. Others were adapted to suit the Nigerian environment. REFERENCES Agboola, B.A; (2000) Effectiveness of Teacher Education by Distance Learning, Suleja, Joson-Sam Modern Publishers. Moahammed, A. M., Ismaila, U. Y., Durodola, S. L., & Ekpunobi, E. N, (2003) Teacher Education at a Distance: Impact on Community Development, Unpublished Research Report. Creed, C; (2001) The Use of Distance Education for Teachers, International Research Foundation for Open Learning. Murphy, P., Anzalone, S., Bosch, A. & Moulton, J. (2002) Enhancing Learning Opportunities in Africa: Distance Education and Information and Communication Technologies for Learning, Africa Region, The World Bank. Perraton, H., (1996) The Cost Effectiveness of Distance Education for Primary Training, Cambridge, International Research Foundation for Open and Distance Learning. Robinson, B.,& Latchem, C.(ed), (2003) Teacher Training through Poen and Distance Learning, London, Routledge Falmer. Umar, A., (2003) Teacher Supply for Universal Primary Education: An Analysis of Current Developments in Nigeria, an invitation paper presented at the 15th Commonwealth Education Ministers Conference, Edinburgh, Scotland UNESCO (1975) UNESCO Mission to Nigeria: Report on Project for the Training of Teachers through Distance Education. 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ࡱ> #` nnbjbj\.\. .>D>Dnf%%%%,%<C2&(@&@&@&@&'''uCwCwCwCwCwCwC$(EhG>C:-'':-:-C@&@&C333:-J@&@&uC3:-uC33BhQC@& & v%2}BuCC0CBGZ3^G QCGQC$'(D3%*)+'''CC3 '''C:-:-:-:-d`D`  TEACHERS TRAINING THROUGH DISTANCE EDUCATION: THE NIGERIAN EXPERIENCE Dr. A. M. Mohammed Director & Chief Executive, National Teacher Institute, P. M. B. 2191, Kaduna - Nigeria e-mail:  HYPERLINK "mailto:ntikad@inet-global.com" ntikad@inet-global.com,  HYPERLINK "mailto:ntikad@yahoo.com" ntikad@yahoo.com In the Third National Development Plan (1975 1980), the Federal Government of Nigeria provided for the establishment of free and universal primary education for all Nigerians by 1980. The total enrolment in the countrys primary schools just prior to 1975 amounted to 4,746,808 pupils and it was envisaged that enrolment in primary class I in 1976-1977 would rise to 2.3 million pupils, making in all 7.4 million primary school pupils for that year, and with a forecast of 11.5 million students for 1980 and a further increase to 14.1 million by 1982. The Universal Primary Education (UPE) scheme was launched in 1976. The projected enrolment of 7.4 million pupils into primary class one was over-shot by over 800,000. This dramatic increase in primary school population necessitated a corresponding increase in the size of the teaching force. The number of primary school teachers was expected to increase threefold during the period from the initial 130,000 of 1976, with a resulting need to recruit and train a huge teaching body. Current estimates then indicated that 60% of the 274,073 teachers were less than fully qualified and this meant, in essence, that well over 280,000 persons needed to be trained by 1982. The immediate reaction of the Government to the problem of teacher shortage was to launch an emergency teacher training programme in 1974/75. The Government also recruited a large number of untrained personnel to teach in schools. Mindful of the effects these actions would have on the quality of education the government decided to establish the National Teachers Institute (NTI) in Kaduna to provide professional training for the unqualified and under qualified teachers in the schools. NTIs remit was also to update the teachers on a continuous basis. The Government directed the Institute to use distance learning techniques for its operations. In one of its reports (UNESCO, 1975: 33), the UNESCO mission, which prepared the project document for the establishment of the Institute, argued that a Federal institution of this kind, designed to improve the quality of basic education throughout the country, and functioning with the support and cooperation of the different states, would best meet the specific needs and potential of Nigeria as a whole. The institution would serve, in addition, as a production centre for instructional materials and as a field service linked with, and operating through, the educational services of individual states. The advantages of a distance education system were also set out in the mission Report. In particular, attention was drawn to its use in overcoming the problems posed by education in remote areas and in catering for widely scattered student bodies. Emphasis was also given to its flexibility as an educational method, the possibility it offers of training teachers without taking them away from their jobs, the ease with which it could be modified or adapted to new conditions once the operations network was set up and, finally, its cost-effectiveness. Over the years, the expansion in primary school enrolment has continued to put pressure on teacher supply mechanism in the country. There are two main levels of teacher education currently existing in Nigeria. One at degree level is offered by the University Faculties of Education. The Institutes of Education of the Universities also run some certificate and diploma teacher education courses. The other level of teacher training is the Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE), which is delivered mainly in the Colleges of Education. Before the adoption of a new National Policy on Education in 1981, the Teachers Grade II Certificate (TC II) was the prescribed minimum teaching qualification in the school system. The TC II was a five-year programme for primary school certificate holders and it was offered in the Teachers Colleges. In an effort to improve the quality of education, the new National Policy on Education prescribed the Nigeria Certificate in Education as the ultimate minimum teaching qualification. More Colleges of Education were established, recruiting senior secondary school leavers and TC II holders for a three-year course leading to the award of the NCE. The NCE holders are being produced to teach at the primary and junior secondary levels. There are about 65 Colleges of Education nationwide providing pre-service teacher education at NCE level. Despite these many Colleges of Education, there is still a predominance of TC II teacher and untrained teachers in the country. This situation influenced the focus of the Institutes programmes which is directed towards upgrading unqualified teachers. The Institutes Training Programmes Since its establishment the Institute has mounted three training programmes for different categories of teachers. These programmes are: The Teachers Grade II Certificate by Distance Learning System (TC II (DLS), which was designed to upgrade teachers who did not have TC II. Most of the teachers in this category, though trained, had deficiencies in one or more subjects which they needed to remedy to qualify for the award of the TC II. There are also the untrained teachers who through the programme receive pedagogical training in order to make them effective in the classroom. Since 1984, when the TC II by DLS commenced, more than 370,000 teachers have benefited from it with a current enrolment of 134,947. The Nigerian Certificate in Education by Distance Learning (NCE DLS) was introduced in 1990 in response to the provision in the new National Policy on Education that the Nigeria Certificate in Education would become the ultimate minimum teaching qualification in the school system. The programme targets the TC II holders in the service for upgrading to NCE level. In addition to upgrading teachers for the successful implementation of the National Policy on Education, the programme also provides the basic background for those teachers who may later wish to pursue their studies at higher levels. In the first year of the programme over 30,000 students enrolled. Of the 29,000 students that completed the course in 1993, 24,359 were successful. Since then 28,031 further students have graduated. The Pivotal Teacher Training Programme by Distance Learning System (PTTP DLS): The Pivotal Teacher Training Programme (PTTP) is the newest in the Institutes teacher training programmes. It was launched in August 2000. This is a pre-service programme, introduced as a stop-gap measure to cater for the teacher demand of the Universal Basic Education (UBE) programme started in September 1999. It was estimated that an additional 1.12 million pupils would be enrolled into Primary 1 in October 2000. This enrolment would require an additional 30,000 teachers in 2000 alone and every year for the next six years, a number that is beyond what the Colleges of Education in Nigeria could produce. The programme is of 18 months duration designed to train 40,000 teachers every year. Graduates of this programme will later enroll for upgrading to NCE level (see Umar; 2003). Of the 39,920 students admitted in the first year of the programme. 38,122 completed the programme and 28,542 of this number qualified for the award of the PTC. The second set of 29,326 students wrote their final examination in November 2003. Programme Implementation In deciding what strategies to adopt in implementing the distance education teacher training programmes the Institute gave due consideration to the following: Reaching a large number of students irrespective of their location in the country; Providing training facilities close to students so that they do not cover long distances whenever the need arises; Planning the programmes so as to have minimum disruption in the activities of host institutions and the schools where the student-teachers are primarily engaged; Selecting a delivery mode that takes into consideration accessibility and affordability; Developing course materials that take into consideration the fact that learners in the programme are on their own most of the time and learning at their own pace; Providing programme structures that are flexible enough to accommodate individual differences; Providing qualitative programmes that would make the products comparable to those from conventional institutions using the same curriculum, and Being conscious enough to make the programme affordable to students and cost-effective to the country. The considerations listed above influenced the Institutes organizational structure, programme management, programme delivery, assessment procedure and quality assurance mechanisms. The Institute operates through a network of Zonal and State Offices established across the country to promote effective communication with all stakeholders in the programmes and engender efficiency in programme management. Policies regarding the management and administration of the programmes emanate from the headquarters and are channelled through these offices while feedback reach the headquarters through the same channel. Study centres are established where students assemble for face-to-face contact sessions during weekends and for intensive contact sessions during the vacations. At the Study Centres part time course tutors, recruited from conventional institutions, provide tutorials, give assignments, supervise practicals, provide counselling, and supervise examinations. The contact sessions are also used to minimize the effects of isolation which is a feature of distance education. They provide a forum for socialization between tutors and students on the one hand and among students on the other. There are a total of 1425 study centres for the three programmes (834 for TC II, 171 for PTTP and 420 for NCE). The study centres are located in existing institutions that have adequate facilities for teacher training. The Institute entered into some arrangement with the Institutions to make their facilities available to NTI students while the Institute pays what is referred to as Study Centre Incentive to the Institutions. The NTI provides consumables for science practicals and some games equipment for the Physical and Health Education subjects. Programme delivery is mainly by printed modular texts, supplemented with recorded audio and video cassettes. The selection of this medium has been informed by the fact that the majority of the students in the prograrmmes lives in rural areas where basic infrastructure like electricity and telephone services is not available. With the improvement in the expansion and efficiency of these services the Institute has commenced the production of diskettes and CD-Rom materials, especially for those students in urban centres with access to computers and for use in the Study Centres. The Institute has remained conscious of the need to provide services at a modest cost to students, since the majority of the students are responsible for paying for their training. This explains why radio and television broadcasts have not been used by the Institute. The airtime charges by broadcast organizations in Nigeria are not within the reach of the Institute. Now that the Government is considering providing dedicated radio and television channels for educational broadcast, the Institute is preparing to take full advantage of these services. To this end the Institute, with the assistance of the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) has acquired an FM Stereo radio transmitters for producing quality radio broadcast materials. There is a Centre for Educational Technology (CET) in every Study centre where electronic and non-electronic materials are provided to support tutorials and micro-teaching. Each CET has at least a Computer and accessories, television set, video cassette player/recorder, Radio/cassette player recorder, still and video cameras, overhead projectors, charts, models, etc. To facilitate learning, especially as most of the students are coming in contact with distance learning system for the first time, Students Handbooks and Information Booklets on all aspect of the programmes are printed and distributed to students on registration for their courses. The NTI uses the same curricula as conventional training colleges, where similar programmes are offered. However, these curricula are modified to suit the demands of the distance education mode of the Institute. For example, while the NCE programme in the conventional college runs over a minimum of three years, the same programme runs over a minimum of four years by distance learning system. Course materials are developed with the assistance of resource persons from tertiary institutions, educational consultants and other specialists in the areas of need. Most often Conference writing strategy is adopted whereby resource persons assemble at designated points and work on their assignment over a specified period. This strategy is more costly to the Institute than the commissioned writing strategy but it ensures timely completion of assignments. All part-time staff engaged in the Institutes programmes must meet the national standards required for the tasks assigned. The part-time staff are engaged to perform different tasks like Centre Supervisors, Course Tutors, Writers and Editors, Examiners, Invigilator, Teaching Practice Moderators, Laboratory Attendant, etc. The NTI training programmes lead to the award of certificates. Therefore a system of assessment is put in place to determine who qualifies for the certificates. The assessment is made up of the Continuous Assessment (40%) and the end-of-programme examination (60%). Students are required to participate and pass the prescribed Teaching Practice for every programme, submit a supervised project (where required) and attain an attendance of 70% at contact sessions. In addition, students are required to pass the compulsory subjects in their programmes before they are eligible for the award of certificate. In the three programmes being offered, provision is made for carry-over of courses, withdrawal from and re-entry into the programmes. Quality Assurance The issue of the quality of teacher training by distance education generates a lot of discussion in Nigeria. Critics of the system most often speak from the perspective of their experience as products of conventional institutions and therefore their belief that only conventional institutions are suitable for producing quality teachers. There are those who have raised the issue of the limited contact between students and tutors and among students during the period of training as a weakness in teacher training by distance education. However, not many of the criticisms come by way of research. The available evidence from literature suggests that a large number of African countries are using distance education to train their teachers. Creed (2001: 11), indicates that developing countries, especially in Africa and Asia, where universal education policies led to huge challenges of quantity and quality in teacher supply, implemented distance education programmes to meet the numerical needs and to achieve economies of scale, noting that although initially conceived as stop-gap measure in these countries, distance education has remained a permanent tool for training teachers as the challenges of quantity and quality obstinately remained. Robinson, quoted in Murphy et al (2002:14) suggests that teacher training courses account for three quarters and half of all distance learning education courses in francophone and Anglophone Africa respectively. The widespread use of distance education for teacher training may suggest that is effective. Robinson (Robinson and Latchem; 2003: 195-196) draws some broad conclusions based on limited evaluation data available. Some of these conclusions that are applicable to NTI programmes are reproduced as follows: Successful completion rates for award-bearing programmes vary between 50-90%. Completion rate in NTI programmes is high because certificate acquisition is sometimes tied to things like promotion, new responsibilities in the school, requirement for political appointment, etc. Teachers on distance education courses have achieved results equivalent to conventionally trained teachers. NTI NCE by DLS operate the same Minimum standards as Colleges of Education, the programme is accredited by the same agency and same certificates are issued to successful students; Unqualified serving teachers on distance education courses for initial qualifications are often rated more highly on classroom teaching than newly qualified college equivalents. This is supported, in the case of NTI by research findings (see below). Perraton has also observed that while examination success cannot be equated with teaching capacity, we can legitimately assume that a reasonable examination pass rate demonstrates that a programme was effective in teaching academic subjects (see Robinson and Letcham; 2003: 45). Students performance in NTI examinations are generally reasonable, ranging between 47 and 77 per cent pass rate. Though no specific studies on the quality of NTI products are available, there are some general statements made on the quality of distance education that have some bearing on NTI programmes. For example, Agboola (2000) who conducted a study on the effectiveness of teacher education by distance learning but focusing on the NCE by Correspondence programme of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria concludes that training teachers by distance education is effective. Mohammed et al (2003) who also conducted a study on the impact of teacher training by distance education on the Community found that teacher training by distance learning was rated high by the various categories of respondents. Umar (2003: 10-11), using the reports submitted by mentors of the PTTP (an NTI pre-service programme) graduates, points out that the graduates performance was adequate in respect of lesson preparation, utilization of instructional aids, record keeping, communication and lesson evaluation. He concludes that in general the mentors rating of the interns does indicate that the PTTP graduates are generally effective. The Institute has demonstrated its commitment to quality teacher education by putting in place some mechanisms to assure quality in all its programmes. The mechanisms include the following: availability of quality modular self-instructional course materials; establishment of nodal/model centres in Colleges of Education; capacity building for part-time staff on the delivery and management of distance learning programmes; institutionalizing Quality Assurance Framework for PTTP and NCE by DLS; adoption of national Minimum Standards on each of its programmes; accreditation of NCE programme by agency with statutory responsibility; regular consultation with stakeholders on teacher education; regular monitoring of programmes; partnership with international organization that assist in institutional strengthening through capacity building and technical support. These organizations include COL, UNESCO, UNICEF, International Extension College (IEC) Cambridge, National Open School Institute of India, British Council and the World Bank). Major Outcomes The various actions described above have led to significant growth and development of NTI programmes in particular and education in the country in general. Among other things they have led to: increased enrolment and output in the programmes, thus narrowing the gap between teacher demand and supply, especially at primary school level; increased number of qualified teachers in the school. Teachers with TC II and its equivalent are being upgraded to NCE level the prescribed minimum teaching qualification; increased participation of female teachers in professional development, especially those who for socio-cultural, economic and religious reasons would not attend conventional institutions; increased participation of those willing to willing to pursue professional improvement in their teaching career but who could not leave their jobs and families for full-time courses in conventional colleges; an overall improvement in the quality of education in the country, especially as teachers receive on-the-job training and as such have the opportunity of immediately applying the skills acquired in their classrooms. Some Problems Like any other educational programme, the NTI distance education programmes are confronted with some problems. The most important of these is funding around which other problems revolve. Though the National Teachers Institute is a government agency, Government funding does not cover all aspects of the costs of running the programmes. Governments subvention covers recurrent and capital projects. The Institute is expected to generate fund from the programme to cover production and distribution of course materials, payment of part-time staff allowances, provision of additional materials at study centres, conduct of examinations and monitoring exercise. Students are charged fees but not enough to cover all the cost of programme delivery. Moreover, students debt profile is very high. In any particular year, less than 70% of projected revenue from fees is collected. The majority of the students are responsible for the payment of their fees as only a few state governments and Local Councils provide assistance to their students undergoing distance education programmes. The problem of inadequate funds affects other aspects of the programme, especially production of course materials. Sometimes course books are not printed or distributed on time and course tutors have had to resort to lecturing rather than providing tutorials. When this happens the programme loses its uniqueness of self-study with minimum teacher intervention except through course materials. The wide area covered by the programme and the dependence on road transportation for distribution of course materials require a large fleet of trucks which are maintained at huge costs. This constitutes a huge drain on the Institutes meager resources. Some Lessons The major lessons that the Institute could share with others in the same business of training teachers by distance education include the following: Partnership is very crucial to the successful implementation of teacher training by distance education. Partnership with international and local agencies, with communities and other stakeholders provides additional support and could positively influence the performance of the providing institution. Where facilities are available, multi-media approach to programme delivery should be adopted. But developing countries, especially African countries should give adequate consideration to accessibility and affordability to students and effectiveness in the programme delivery process. Networking among distance education institutions and personnel could provide opportunities for resource sharing and exchange of ideas. In a sense, this would further build the capacity of the institutions and personnel of distance education. If effective in-house training programme is put in place by a distance education institution, it would be more cost-effective to engage part-time staff and train them on tasks they are expected to perform than attempt a full complement of staff similar to a conventional institution. Cooperation with host institutions is a primary requirement for effective programme delivery especially where Study Centres are used. Since distance education institution may not be able to provide all the structure and facilities required at Study Centres, it becomes imperative to seek the cooperation of the host institutions in other to share their facilities. Conclusion This paper discusses the activities of the National Teachers Institute which was established to train and upgrade teachers using distance learning techniques. Its model may not necessarily rank among the best models but considering its modest achievements since its inception in 1976, it has contributed significantly in providing qualified teachers for the school system. The experience of the Institute shows that distance education is suitable for both in-service and pre-service teacher training. Some of the activities initiated and implemented by NTI were done within the context of the Nigerian environment. Others were adapted to suit the Nigerian environment. REFERENCES Agboola, B.A; (2000) Effectiveness of Teacher Education by Distance Learning, Suleja, Joson-Sam Modern Publishers. Moahammed, A. M., Ismaila, U. Y., Durodola, S. L., & Ekpunobi, E. N, (2003) Teacher Education at a Distance: Impact on Community Development, Unpublished Research Report. Creed, C; (2001) The Use of Distance Education for Teachers, International Research Foundation for Open Learning. Murphy, P., Anzalone, S., Bosch, A. & Moulton, J. (2002) Enhancing Learning Opportunities in Africa: Distance Education and Information and Communication Technologies for Learning, Africa Region, The World Bank. Perraton, H., (1996) The Cost Effectiveness of Distance Education for Primary Training, Cambridge, International Research Foundation for Open and Distance Learning. Robinson, B.,& Latchem, C.(ed), (2003) Teacher Training through Poen and Distance Learning, London, Routledge Falmer. Umar, A., (2003) Teacher Supply for Universal Primary Education: An Analysis of Current Developments in Nigeria, an invitation paper presented at the 15th Commonwealth Education Ministers Conference, Edinburgh, Scotland UNESCO (1975) UNESCO Mission to Nigeria: Report on Project for the Training of Teachers through Distance Education. 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