Genuine regard for the continuous development and evaluation of teachers in the Ghana Education Service, in this age especially, is not out of place. This will further teachers’ critical thinking skills and other professional competencies that are needed to reduce the widening gap between our underdeveloped country and industrialized ones through the reduction of nonliterate populations and poverty.
So the National Teaching Council’s (NTC) responsibility to appraise and license teachers with the support of agencies it has certified to organize workshops for us to, as they claim, “make teaching professional according to international standards” is fundamentally not without substance.
However, there are reasonable grievances teachers — the main pivot on which education revolves— have with the current nature of appraisal and the licensing system. When these feelings of resentment are not addressed, the NTC and its affiliates may not achieve the desired aims of fine-tuning teachers’ abilities and enhancing learning outcomes even if the licenses are issued.
The uproar and disdain which greets the policy are not borne out of ignorance or laziness. It is because teachers feel the policy is another insensitive imposition that comes with cost and threat.
They feel the glut of requirements they must meet each year of three years to have their licenses renewed even as they discharge their traditional responsibilities as subject or classroom teachers with outrageous teaching periods and class sizes, Housemasters/mistresses with untold duties, school Counsellors without offices, among the rest, are just too much.
As we are gathering, the conditions are not limited to paid training sessions, books to be read, articles to be written and published in journals, portfolio to be developed on the internet, lessons to be taught and loaded online as proof of work done, all for mandatory minimum points according to ranks.
Worse are the comments that suggest we should take it or leave it. One is “Failure to renew your LICENCE can be detrimental to your practice as a teacher.” Another puts it clearly: ” Those who fail to avail themselves for this process shall lose their right to practice as teachers in Ghana in accordance with Section 64(1) of the Education Regulatory Bodies Act, 2020, Act 1023.” Are we teachers that heedless of consequences? What is the essence of these statements if not to browbeat?
I wonder whether a feasibility study was conducted in carefully selected communities nationwide with a focus on several factors including electricity availability, internet availability, presence of intellectual resources, presence of resource personnel, et cetera, before the intended execution of the policy. If this had been done and rigorously tested, it would have revealed that the criteria are too many for our sort of country; and if teachers were well oriented on same and their opinions inputted, the reception of the policy would not be as it is.
But already, teachers regard the policy as a do-or-die affair. Their survival and the survival of their families, as well as their old age, depend on their licenses. They are not in America to go pick apples, or mob floors or train dolphins to dance in pools, for a living. So they will divert their energy towards ensuring their stay in the Service and continue to hope…
Hence for each three-year period, there will be a confusing struggle to accrue license points. Teachers will be seen running across our sixteen regions looking for approved workshops to attend. This will definitely take most teachers from their duties and authorities can do nothing or very little about it because our authorities will need higher points. Teachers who hitherto would not write lesson notes will now write. Under the activity column, a mathematics teacher, for example, will write, ” I will guide the student to draw a straight line. I will guide the student to bisect the line….” But in class, he will not ask any student to do anything! Everything will be reduced to mere lesson notes for points.
The licensing scheme in its present form will also expose teachers to be taken advantage of. The NTC-approved workshop agencies will multiply like the Biblical fish and loaves and fake ones will sprout for the purpose of raking in money. Their notices will flood our WhatsApp pages. And there will be strange machinations.
If teachers are lucky (or unlucky) this issue will become a major political campaign topic in 2024 as lincentia examination was in 2018/19. The then opposition party swore the exams were completely unnecessary while the government in power maintained it was mandatory. The corollary: Almost everyone passed the exams and those who failed in one or two papers passed before the elections.
One of my friends narrowly missed out on First Class at the University of Cape Coast. He got his Master’s degree in Agric Economics from KNUST a few years later, taught for a while in a secondary, and moved to the USA for another Master’s degree. A few weeks into the program there, he called me and said, ” DJ, I no de fit read oo. I will be too dull!” I was confused. How could someone with a Master’s from almighty KNUST have problems with reading, reading the English language! He said according to his younger White colleagues, they were taught to read with the movement of light at the elementary school level. The light was made to reveal sentences on boards and as the light moved the sentences disappeared. Later comprehension questions were asked on what they had read. Where are our teaching and learning aids? How many light microscopes in working order do we have in our labs? Where are the weaving looms in our Visual Arts department? Teaching aids too are needed to make education meet international standards.
It is a fact that teachers will have to be licensed. There is also a startling fact that Ghana also has a long way to go in meeting international student-teacher ratios so government must not take decisions that will trigger teacher contempt or attrition. A lot of things can proceed from threats, ultimatums, and intimidations.
I strongly feel the renewal of teachers’ licenses in three years is too short. I also think the requirements are too many. Heads of our institutions who monitor and supervise us should be the ones to primarily decide whose license should be renewed. The excursions, articles, publications, and the rest should remain requirements for promotions in the Service. They will help fit us for changing trends in our profession.
New policies must be picked carefully and thoughtfully as we pick girlfriends. They must be implemented gradually in consensus with those who must live with the consequences, else things will be clean outside but dirty inside.