Ghanaian Chronicle

Mahama’s speech at the National Best Teacher Awards

Date published: October 6, 2011

Vice President

It is a privilege and an honour for me to stand-in for His Excellency the President of the Republic of Ghana, Professor J.E.A. Mills at the 17th National Best Teacher Awards Ceremony here in Takoradi, which also coincides with World Teachers Day.

His Excellency the President, who has been a teacher for many years, would have loved to be here personally to interact with colleague teachers but equally important national engagements have not made this possible.

I am therefore happy to join you in celebrating the universal event of World Teachers Day and our own annual National Best Teacher Awards ceremony.

The celebrations of these two events are meant to give recognition to teachers and to encourage and inspire them to remain committed to their profession.

All of us here have in one way or the other been taught by a teacher for which we should be grateful.

The Government of the NDC acknowledges the fact that education is key to personal and national development, hence children, who are assets for national development deserve quality education which is made possible by dint of a teacher’s hard work.

Mr. Chairman, the task of bringing up the young ones to assume future leadership roles as responsible and productive citizens requires more than textbooks, lesson notes, syllabuses and other soft wares.

Teaching as a professional career requires commitment, perseverance, honesty, integrity, discipline, role modeling and mentoring. These attributes are not easy to acquire and internalize let alone impart them to others.  That is why the teacher is the bedrock of all professions.

It is for the nurturing and mentoring role of teachers that society needs to recognize and appreciate them in order to boost their morale and encourage them to continue to deliver quality education.  This explains why every year, the Teacher Awards Ceremony is given the needed impetus.

I am therefore encouraged to learn that for this year, the awards have been scaled up such that 49 Teaching and Non-Teaching personnel will receive awards under the various award categories.

Mr. Chairman, in the not too distant past teachers, were the cynosure of society.  They were held in high esteem and consulted by the community in everything that went on. Today, things have changed. Our value system as a society has migrated from intrinsic moral attributes to materialism.  That is why the teacher needs the support of parents, the community and other stakeholders to nurture our children to grow up in an environment that will help them become total human beings.  I therefore urge all of us to support our teachers to inculcate moral and spiritual values into our children that will make them useful citizens to themselves, community and country.

Mr. Chairman, the 2011 World Teachers Day is being celebrated under the theme: “Teachers for Gender Equality”.  The theme offers us the opportunity to reflect and recognize the teacher as the driving force for achieving gender equality in education.  The theme also recognizes that, both Boys and Girls need equal treatment and encouragement from teachers and education administrators to enable them develop their innate potential to the fullest. As you may all be aware, achieving Gender Equality by 2015 is the third Millennium Development Goal and the fifth Education For All (EFA) goal which together call for equal number of Boys and Girls to be enrolled in Schools by 2015 and be treated equally.

The Girls Education Unit was therefore established in 1987 to implement and monitor interventions geared towards the promotion of the Girl-Child Education.  One of these interventions is the Science, Technology and Mathematics Education (STME) clinics meant to address gender imbalance and misconceptions about girls’ participation in Science, Technology and Mathematics Education.

Today, the STME clinics have taken a national perspective in view of their positive impact on the achievement levels of the Girl- Child in Science, Technology and Mathematics Education. An offshoot of the STME programme is the Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) camps, which places emphasis on the application of scientific theories to our daily lives.  And I am happy to learn that the girl-child on average is doing better than the boy-child in the Sciences as well as in the Social Sciences.

I believe that with continued support from GETFund to improve on infrastructural challenges in the colleges, there would be steady increase in the enrolment of girls into our Training Colleges.  Government on its part shall continue to encourage parents to send their children to school by ensuring that schools are available, and equipped so that when teachers complete college, they can have schools to teach.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, it is against this background that I was particularly delighted to see the participation of the Ghana Education Service in the recently ended Sanitation, Science and Technology Conference organized by the Ministry of Science and Environment where Boys and Girls in the Junior and Senior High Schools showcased their innovations in the area of Science and Technology.

There is therefore the need for the Ministry of Education to sustain the interest of boys and girls by exposing them to more scientific and technological experiences to enable them bring out their inherent capabilities to be harnessed for national development.

As a country, we need a critical mass of scientific and technological personnel (both men and women) to drive our economy forward. This responsibility rests on the education sector since it has the mandate to develop our human resources to transform our society into a more dynamic one capable of using science and technology to solve our daily challenges.

Ghana has made considerable progress in attainment of the education targets under the MDGs. Primary school enrollment has made remained above 90%. Gender parity in primary enrollment between boys and girls is 0.96.

Ghana’s current average literacy rate is estimated at a little above 60%. However there is much cause for hope because literacy in the 15 – 24years age bracket is 88%. So as we the older generations face out, the country will achieve a much higher literacy rate.

Government prioritizes education under the better Ghana agenda. Government has in this budget year released 2 million Ghana Cedis under the MASTESS Program for scholarships for students studying mathematics, and science and technology courses. Last year 5000 students were given bursaries. This year about 12,000 applicants would be considered

This is underpinned by Government’s belief that Ghana’s development can only be spurred on by churning out a corps of engineers, scientist and other technology graduates. We must turn the ratio in favour of a majority of students graduating in science and technology courses rather than the humanities. And we can only do this by improving teaching and learning of mathematics and science. We must make the teaching of maths and science more practical and interesting and without coercion.

Government is implementing the expansion and re targeting of the school feeding program in order to improve the nutritional status of children, improve enrollment, and also create an expanded market for local food products. This year 50 million Ghana Cedis was allocated for the program. In the supplementary budget another 10 million Ghana Cedis was released. This is enabling the program to feed a little over 1 million children. This represents an increase of about 400,000 children. In 2012 the program will cover 1.5 million children, which would be more than double the 700,000 children covered by the program in 2008. The re targeting exercise is aimed at reducing the preponderance of urban schools and targeting the feeding to deprived areas both urban and rural where the children need the food more. Currently procurement of local food products for the school feeding program stands at about 40%. Govt aims to increase this to 80% within the next 2 years.

Infrastructure is important for a good learning experience. Government has in the short period of two and half years built 611 classrooms and dormitory blocks. In 2010 Govt eliminated 1300 schools under trees with the provision of new 6 classroom blocks. This year another 1000 new schools have been awarded on contract.

There is still much work to be done. We estimate that there are about a little over 4000 schools under trees across the country.To improve mobility Govt procured and distributed 85 buses and 56 pickups to secondary schools across the country, especially in deprived areas.

To promote learning of ICT Govt has so far distributed 6000 laptops to schools and by November would have supplied about 20,000. These are under multiple sector programme  such as environment, education and communication. By March 2012 Govt would have supplied about 70,000 laptops to students. The unique thing is also that all these laptops are assembled right here in Ghana.

Free exercise books programme has been a phenomenal success. About 40 million exercise books were distributed, representing 93.87%. The free school children’s uniform program is still ongoing and would be expanded next year in order to speed up the supply to the children. Next year we intend to decentralize the program further and give District Assemblies greater ownership of the program.

This program has achieved more than 80% coverage. I am informed that there are still backlogs of some uniforms in the regional and district education office stores. I hereby wish to direct Regional Directors, Regional Ministers, District Chief Exec and District Directors to ensure that all such uniforms are distributed immediately.

Policy for allowance to teachers in deprived areas is accepted. Technical assistance is being sought to map out the deprived areas to ensure equity and fairness.

SSSS implementation has been single largest challenge in the management of the economy. It has increased the Government’s wage bill from above 1 billion Ghana Cedis to above 5 billion Ghana Cedis.

·    15% retention allowance implemented.
·    2 months arrears to be paid in October and the rest to be spread.
·    Teachers presenting themselves as positive role models to both boys and girls
·    The use of gender sensitive language
·    Positive reinforcement for girls
·    Illustrations and images portraying girls in positive light
·    Equal responsibilities for boys and girls
·    Equal opportunities in sports and games and
·    Helping girls to build their self-esteem and to participate actively in group work

Mr. Chairman, I am informed that today, school curriculum and textbooks are gender-sensitive but that, socialization in the classroom still shows that girls and boys continue to be socialized in ways that work against gender equality.

I am reliably informed that sometimes lesson delivery and interaction with students by some teachers are still gender bias in that some teachers ask boys’ high level questions than girls. In addition, students are seated by gender and any time this is done, teachers are affirming that girls and boys should be treated differently.

I will be the first to admit that a teacher’s reward should be achieved both here on earth and in heaven.  Your value in developing the human resources of this country cannot be measured in terms of money neither can you be remunerated adequately to compensate for your invaluable services to the nation.

Government shall give you your due when the anomalies are addressed in the SSSS system.  I urge you to remain calm and channel your discontent through the appropriate channels for redress.

Mr. Chairman, Nananom, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, on the occasion of this 17th Edition of the National Best Teachers Award Scheme, I wish to congratulate our gallant Award Winners, and all teachers for their tireless efforts and commitment to education delivery. I also wish to charge Educational Administrators to provide mandatory gender-equity resource modules to both in-service and pre-service teacher’s to enable Ghana meet Education For All (EFA) Goal 5 and Millennium Development Goal 3.

Teachers must make special efforts to further promote Gender Equality in our classrooms as a requirement under Education For All (EFA) and the Millennium Development Goals so as to empower both boys and girls to contribute their quota towards nation building.

Last but not the least, I wish to appreciate all our Sponsors (MTN, INNOLINK, IPMC, TOP KINGS, SIC Life, rlg Communications, ZEPTO, SOMOTEX, KEZY-BANS LOGISTICS, UNICEF, Parry and Co., Ghana Commercial Bank, Ghana Broadcasting Corporation to mention but a few.  The Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service (GES) deserve special commendation in diverse ways in making the celebration of the 17th Edition of the National Best Teacher Award ceremony a success.

We are also grateful to the assistance of our Development Partners, and other Corporate Bodies for assisting the Education sector implement programmes born out of the Education For All (EFA) and the Millennium Development Goals on the rights of the child and the right to education.
Thank you for your attention and May God Bless Us All.
Thank you.

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