Dr Steve Nwokeocha is based in Abuja, Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria. Here he explains how sociology influences his management style, and demonstrates ‘the difference a sociologist can make in bringing about positive changes in an organisation and in launching a very new organisation into national, continental and global relevance’.
Dr Steve Nwokeocha
Director of Professional Operations, Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria.
Sociologist at work
Steve’s career ‘took a conventional path’. He obtained a B.Sc Sociology in 1988 closely followed by a M.Sc. in Industrial Sociology in 1992 and a Postgraduate Diploma in Education also in 1992. He then went on to complete a PhD in Industrial Sociology in 1998 and Master of Business Administration, MBA in 2002.
In 1990 he was employed as Assistant Lecturer in the Federal College of Education, which is a tertiary institution for the training of teachers in Nigeria. Steve now works with the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), an agency of the Federal Ministry of Education, as Director of Professional Operations. Steve’s role within the agency has national, regional and global responsibilities:
On a national level:
The agency was established in 1993 to regulate and control teaching from primary to university levels in the public and private sectors throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria. As the Director of Professional Operations, he is responsible for the implementation of all the provisions of the TRCN Act regarding the regulation and control of teaching throughout Nigeria.
On an African level:
His office is the secretariat of the Roundtable (Association) of the Teaching Regulatory Authorities in Africa. It coordinates an annual conference of the Teaching Regulatory Authorities in Africa and related matters. His office also serves as a link between the Teaching Regulatory Authorities in Africa and the world body of the Teaching Councils called the International Forum of Teaching Regulatory Authorities (IFTRA) which has its headquarters at the General Teaching Council for Wales, United Kingdom.
On a global level:
His office is a very active member of IFTRA which regulates the teaching profession globally. It is charged by IFTRA to develop the Continuous Professional Development (CPD) International Protocol or Standards which it intends to adopt at its 2011 World Biennial Conference in South Africa. He is affiliated with international bodies including the Commonwealth and United Nations serving either as consultant or delegate in various professional activities. He regularly visits and studies the operations of the Teaching Regulatory Authorities and related agencies in all continents, covering countries like USA, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, China, Colombia, South Africa, Egypt, Netherlands, Israel, etc.
In the rest of his paper, Steve explains his personal journey from sociologist to sociological leader.
From sociologist to ‘sociological’ leadership
I was actually employed to teach Sociology of Education in the School (Faculty) of Education of the College. However, at the time I joined the College, the Federal Government of Nigeria had (and still has) a policy that all lecturers in teacher training institutions must themselves be professionally trained as teachers. Therefore, I obtained the Postgraduate Diploma in Education in 1992 in order to secure my job and to be fully integrated in the system because lecturers without teaching qualifications were not given key posts or responsibilities.
Between 1990 and 2002 (a period of twelve years) I rose through the rank and file to the position of Senior Lecturer; served as the Head of Educational Foundations and Management and acted as the Dean of the School of Education. The courses I taught while at the College were mostly Sociology of Education and Educational Management.
In 2002, I responded to a national advertisement which invited applications for employment at the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria. I was successful and was offered the post of Chief Education Officer (which is Grade 14 of a 1–17 National Salary Scale or Structure).
In the same year, the then Director of Professional Operations (and a university professor) went back to his university to continue with teaching and research based on his personal interest. Though I was not the next in rank to the Director, I was amazed that the then Chief Executive Officer and his Management team considered me the most suitable to be elevated to the position of Acting Director of Professional Operations. I remained the Acting Director of Professional Operations till 2008 when the Federal Ministry of Education conducted a competitive national interview to appoint a substantive Director of Professional Operations and again, I was successful and topped the list of over 50 academics and professionals who attended the interviews from across Nigeria. In 2008 therefore, I was appointed the substantive Director of Professional Operations by Nigeria’s Minister of Education on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
In summary, the TRCN Act was enacted in 1993 but did not become operational till 2000. Then in 2002 I became the Acting Director and later in 2008 the substantive Director of Professional Operations to date. By implication, TRCN’s rise to national and international prominence in just about ten years of existence was under my tutelage.
I included MBA in the courses I studied because Industrial Sociology deals with the management of human behaviour in organisations and I wanted a broader view of the management of organisations that goes beyond the management of behaviour. I believed that understanding the management of organisations in broader terms will advance my competencies not only in managing human beings but also other resources of an organisation.
Sociological management style
In my organisation, the dominant concept is teaching. Most people read publications dedicated to education. I seem to be the only pure sociologist in the entire organisation.
However, through my prominence in the organisation, most people have come to appreciate the difference a sociologist can make in bringing about positive changes in an organisation and in launching a very new organisation into national, continental and global relevance.
I often speak as a sociologist (using sociological terms) and try to impart sociological views, principles and practices; and my management style is heavily ‘sociological’.
Judging by the success of my tenure which is publicly acclaimed in my organisation and in Nigeria, I believe that my colleagues have come to better appreciate sociology. Otherwise, people do not generally consider sociology as a serious or attractive course of study and many do not even know the definition or course content! I believe therefore that sociologists collectively need to make their voice heard, not only in their respective countries but also across international borders.
I rely heavily on sociological theories, principles and practices learnt under my studies in Industrial Sociology and Business Administration to manage issues, personnel and work processes. These areas of study exposed me to how to develop great corporate vision and mission, structure organisations, motivate personnel, create team spirit, conduct research, etc. I definitely rely heavily on my sociological orientation than mere loose thinking or approach.
Sociology: a key to success
Our organisation, the TRCN is regarded as the largest professional regulatory agency in Africa with nearly one million teachers registered and regulated. We further work with over 100 universities, 100 colleges of Education and 100 polytechnics to accredit Teacher Education, regulate teaching, etc. We have offices in all 36 states of Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory where we work with thousands of the primary and secondary schools to regulate teaching and partner with stakeholders.
The greatest benefit of my job and career to me as an individual and to my country is that I have laid a solid foundation for the professionalisation of teaching in Nigeria. Until this time, teaching was not seriously or nationally regulated in Nigeria. But now teachers in Nigeria are enjoying legal standing and other benefits that are comparable to those of other noble professions in Nigeria.
I therefore feel fulfilled as a citizen of Nigeria to be regarded as the key national figure that repositioned teaching in Nigeria and earned the country international prominence in the area of teaching.
I also especially enjoy the interpersonal linkages and relationships that I have developed across the continents in the course of discharging my duties.
I am further proud of my field, sociology; it gave me a foundation that has made me successful as any other Nigerian citizen.
People do not understand what sociology is all about. Therefore, as a course of study, it is not popular among the students. Similarly, the people do not have the kind of insight that sociologists have about social phenomenon. Therefore, colleagues may at the beginning not appreciate a sociologist’s concept, approach or strategy. However, when the strategies bring success, they are bound to accept the superiority of sociological thought.
Article copyright: © Steve Nwokeocha 2011. Published by Sociology At Work. All rights reserved.
Working Notes ISSN: 1838-5214
Article citation: Nwokeocha, S. (2011) ‘Sociological Leadership in Education: Abuja, Nigeria,’ Working Notes, Issue 2, June, online resource: http://www.sociologyatwork.org/sociological-leadership-in-education-abuja-nigeria