EducationNewsNigeriaSpecial ReportSpecial Report: Secondary School Teaching in Anambra Unsustainable, Driven by Corps Members

Findings in schools across the three senatorial zones of Anambra State have revealed that students rely nearly exclusively on corps members for teaching and learning. From the research, it is apparent that the problem dates back to a few years ago. In a filed work conducted by The West African Pilot News, between December 2022 and January 2023 across Anambra State, responses show that corps members have taken over about 70% of teaching in secondary schools in major towns of Nnewi, Onitsha and Awka. While in semi urban centres like Neni, Nnobi, Nteje, Dunukofia, etc, corps members account for well over 80% of teaching and learning experience for students in secondary schools. In villages, the role of corps members is even more profound, as they are also involved in practical school management.

In Nnewi, territorial secondary school such as Nnewi High School has no fewer than thirty corps members teaching various subjects in the school. The irony is that the number outnumbered that of regular teachers of the school. In Nnewi, responses reveal that core subjects like physics and chemistry for senior science students, Civic Education, Agriculture, ICT, among many others, are taught by corps members. This was the same trend observed in Onitsha and around Awka, the State capital. In each case, corps members teach not less than two hundred and fifty, to three hundred and fifty students, as observed in these towns. This number is for the whole school year, for instance, the entire SS1 student of a school.

There is a case of corps members teaching subjects they didn’t study in school and have no background or basis to teach it. For instance, a corps members who studied Business Administration teaches Civic Education in one of the major government secondary schools in Nnewi. In Onitsha, a corps member who studied veterinary medicine is teaching ICT in a major secondary school in that city. Meanwhile, another corps member who studied English Education  is teaching Social Studies in another territorial secondary school in Onitsha. Yet, another who studied Micro Biology teaches Civic Education. Aside the problem of mismatching which is rampant, corps members are the major teachers for any subject they teach. They are also the only teachers, hence they, in all cases, teach an entire year class, as observed earlier. This trend appears to be the standard as it is highly common in all cases. Hence, each corps member in Anambra serving in a school has not less than two hundred students who are taught on average of six times in a week. Each secondary school class has an average of forty three pupils and each year has a minimum of A to E. Only Flora Azikiwe Comprehensive Secondary School in Neni, a sub urban town, has class A to C.

In Onitsha, Army Day has A to E, G and sometimes F. Anglican Girls Secondary School, Nnewi, has same, with over twenty corps members all of whom are the main teachers for the subjects they teach. Some corps members also teach in more than one secondary school, as part of their own efforts to earn more and be able to meet their needs.

The findings also revealed that “PTA Teachers”, who are paid paltry sum of N20, 000 monthly, essentially employed by the school’s Parent Teacher Association-PTA, is like an epidemic in Anambra State secondary schools. Aside corps members, PTA teachers are the next in line in carrying the burden of teaching and learning in Anambra State secondary schools, with near zero motivation.

More major secondary schools across the state where corps members teach critical subjects includes; St. Charles College Onitsha, where corps members teach major science subjects, Federal Government College, Nise, where corps members teach main art subjects. Amenyi Girls Secondary School, Awka, where corps members teach major science subjects. Girls Secondary School, Awka, Union Secondary School, Umuawulu, also have corps members teaching major subjects, mong other schools.

From the research, subjects like Agriculture, ICT/Computer, Pysics, Civic Education, Biology, Chemistry, Accounting, Creative Arts, and Foreign Languages are some of the major subjects taught by corps members in territorial township secondary schools in Anambra State. But in secondary schools in semi urban centres, subjects like English and Mathematics are some of the major subjects taught by corps members.

Responding to the question, “do you have any qualification in education?”, only about 30% of respondents who are corps members within the Anambra State school system, answered to the affirmative. 70% others do not have any teaching qualification, whatsoever.

When asked, “Who was teaching the subject(s) before you were posted to the school?”, About 70% responded that the subject(s) they are now teaching was taught by corps members before they took over. In most cases, foreign languages are newly introduced subjects. Only about three out of thirty corps members teaches in primary school, based on the research outcome.

The depths of the challenges show convincingly, that it is a long-standing problem. Recently, the governor of Anambra State engaged no fewer than five thousand teachers. However, it seems far inadequate, as students still struggle for teachers. At Flora Comprehensive Secondary School, about sixteen newly recruited teachers were posted there. Although they tried to reduce work load on some corps members, yet, the bulk of the work is still being done by corps members.

Ebuka Onyekwelu (Staff Writer)
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