Politicians and their stance on quality teaching
By Phyllis D. Osabutey & Janina Broker
TODAY IS World Teachers’ day and the theme for the celebration is: ’Take a Stand for Teachers’. Everyone who is able to read and write, and has any other skill that enables him/her to earn a living owes it largely to a teacher.
Teachers impart knowledge to generations after generations, and so it is right to salute the teacher on a day like this. The day was first instituted in 1994 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO),and is held annually on October 5th.
The day celebrates teachers worldwide and aims to mobilize support for teachers and to ensure that the needs of future generations will continue to be met by teachers.
According to UNESCO, World Teachers’ Day represents a significant token of the awareness, understanding and appreciation displayed for the vital contribution that teachers make to education and development.
As part of activities to mark the day, the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) earlier last week engaged leaders of the various political parties at a forum in Accra. This was to provide a platform for the parties to state what policies they would implement to meet the needs of teachers and the general educational system.
To enable them state their specific objectives, the theme for their delivery was “Positioning the Teacher to Deliver Quality Public Education”.
According to the General Secretary of GNAT, Mrs. Irene Duncan-Adanusa, education seem to be a priority agenda in the campaign messages of all the political parties, hence the need to engage them for a detailed discussion on the critical issues.
She said that education is a right and not a privilege or a favour provided by an individual or group using the resources of the majority. This is why the constitution provides that every child of school-going age should be entitled to free basic education, she explained.
Also, Article 25(1) (b) provides that “secondary education in different forms, including technical and vocational education, shall be made generally available and accessible to all by every appropriate means, and in particular, by the progressive introduction of free education.”
In her opinion, there are three main ingredients required for the education agenda of every nation including access, finance to ensure sustainability and quality, saying, “The greatest of these is quality.”
She said it was important for the country to define hereducational agenda, what is to be gained from that agenda and what would be the implementation plan for the attainment of the agenda.
She emphasized that: “We should not just be moving forward and backwards as and when we please. We should have a plan, go by this plan and sustain it.”
A member of the National Democratic Congress (NDC)and former Minister of Education, Mr. Alex Tettey Enyo said the NDC see education as a social contract with the people and seeksto empower them and ensure a meaningful living of standard for all.
Thus, positioning the teacher to deliver quality public education is a cardinal objective for the NDC government for now and the future, he noted.
According to him, the partywould focus on improvement in the general conditions of teachers through payment of competitive salaries, commissioning of accommodation and enhanced retired benefits.
Other programmes would include payment of certificated and professional allowance, hardship allowance in identified deprived areas, incremental credit to specialist teachers in science and mathematics, at the point of entry.
In addition, the NDC government would provide access and support to teachers for professional development to “position the teacher roundly, if not squarely, to perform their duty by the Ghanaian children who are in our schools”, he pointed out.
He added that the intention of the party and government is well grounded, and given time and opportunity, all of these pledges and more, that would be devised would help position the teacher for quality delivery.
He said the upgrading of the teacher training colleges (TTCs) to position the teacher to perform at his/her best would continue in the next NDC administration.
Also, the passage of the Colleges of Education Act 2012,Act 847would empower all stakeholders including the Ministry of Education (MoE) to upgrade the TTCs in the country to tertiary institutions, he stated.
He said the NDC was committed to providing resources to enable the TTCs fulfill their mandate, stressing, “The upgrading of 38 TTCs is a move to improve the content of courses and to strengthen pedagogy.”
Furthermore, he said, the party’s new teacher development policy would give teachers the opportunity to engage in continuous learning process on the job and enhance competence in their chosen areas as well as in the delivery of their lessons. This would involvein-service training programmes in which teachers would earn credit for career promotion and appointment.
Added to this, the MoE would promote access to distance education programmes and sandwich courses for teachers, and continue to support the teachers undertaking these programmes by paying their tuition fees, he indicated.
According to him, these programmes will be the focus of the NDC to be able to achieve more than the promises the party made in 2008.
The Director of party educationof the Convention Peoples Part (CPP), Mr. Korsi Delebased his presentation on what kind of society the CPP and Ghanaians in general would like to build.
He said anyone who has gone through schooling for at least twelve years would have spent 30% of that time with a teacher. Thus, it is important to situate the position of the teacher as a great influencing factor in building the kind of society desired, he hinted.
“For us in the CPP, we want to build a society that is just and provides equal opportunity for all, and values that can be passed on”, he stated.
According to him, the CPP government set up 82 TTCs and later established the University of Cape Coast (UCC) with the mandate to produce teachers for secondary school teaching. However, the country still neededmore teachers than before, lamenting further that, “Post 1966, we reduced the teacher training schools from 82 to less than 44 today.”
He questioned why an institution like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) should be determining the number of teachers the country should produce.
In his words, “the IMF decided in 1983 that we must cut the number of teachers we produce at 6000. Today, it has been increased by the same IMF to 9000. Is it the IMF that should determine the kind of society we want to build or we as Ghanaians should determine the kind of society we want to build for ourselves?”
He said a CPP government would encourage the attraction of the best into teaching in terms of academic qualification and values. He noted that the teaching service would be made attractive through conditions of service, because “If the teachers’ conditions are improved, then they are assured of a certain level of security and in a better mood to deliver.”
The CPP would also use a system that assures teachers of basic things like housing because when teachers are assured of getting a house after five to fifteen years of dedicated service, it would give them a sense of security and allow them to perform at their optimum best, he observed.
Also, a CPP government would upgrade TTCs to award degrees and other national awards to ensure that teachers do not feel left on the sidelines in society, saying, “We need our teachers to feel proud of who they are and what they have to offer to society.”
Furthermore, another member of the CPP, Professor Nana Ayisi said the CPP government would set up programmes and guidelines to help teachers to be able to train students not only to acquire knowledge but to utilize knowledge.
He said this would enable students to copy and copy well so that the country can industrialize, and utilize the knowledge acquired in class to become inventive.
To achieve this, “We will galvanize Ghanaian experts around the world, who will put together a programme that can be used in the settings of seminars and tele-conferences for our teachers, so that our students can become creative and begin to discover things for us. Without this, all the teaching will come to nothing.”
On his part, the flag bearer of the Progressive Peoples Party (PPP), Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom said it was evident that Ghana’s educational system lacks quality so the PPP would “put the teacher at the center of any plan or policy to improve the quality of education.”
This is because “when the teacher is well resourced with the right facilities and equipment, the entire system will benefit and our children will become better educated”, he stated.
In detail, the PPP would provide quality education for every Ghanaian child, standardized school facilities from kindergarten to senior high school (SHS) with libraries, toilets, classrooms, kitchen, housing for teachers and playgrounds among others, he said.
He added that the PPP would significantly increase vocational and technical training so that all school leavers can gain employable skills, which would include a comprehensive sports programme to instill discipline and promote good health.
Particularly, the PPP policy would ensure that a “free senior high school education” is a right to all children and not to perpetuate the privilege reality, whereby only those who pass the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) advance to SHS.
According to Dr. Nduom, “ours is the policy that is comprehensive and consistent with standards set by countries that have overcome underdevelopmentand poverty in the world. Ours recognizes that some children require a little bit more time to develop and absorb what they are taught.”
Furthermore, the PPP would fund free, compulsory, continuous education vision through government revenue primarily by reducing wasteand checking corruption.
The PPP like the other parties would also upgrade TTCs into universities and improve facilities and equipment, and enhance take-home pay and related incentives for teachers.
In all, “the PPP will make teachers feel proud of their profession. This remains the only way we can attract more and solve the problem of manpower shortage in this sector. The PPP wants to form a union with teachers to provide high quality education that will be the foundation for job creation in Ghana.”
On his part, a member of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr. Kwabena Adjei Agyepong said the NPP places the teacher first in their attempt to transform the educational policy of the country. “Education will be a major priority of the NPP government because we believe education is the best tool for social mobility and to remove poverty from our midst”, he noted.
He pointed out that the Ministry of education currently puts teacher deficit of Ghana at around 16,000. So in the short term, the NPP would motivate and attract especially unemployed graduates into the classroom.
In the long term, the NPP would develop a very collaborative programme with the professionals of GNAT to generate the quality of instruction that the country desires.
He lamented that the percentage pass of BECE students was always over 60% in the past ten years,but have since 2009dropped to under 50%.
Hence, the party would adequately resource teachers to give off their best because “the quality of any educational system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers”, he stated.
According to Mr. Agyepong, the NPP policy is to make sure that SHS education is free, saying, “We have the resources in our country. If we plug the hole and all the wastage that goes on, it is not beyond this country to devote at least 10 – 15% of our GDP to support the future of our country.”
He said an NPP government would collaborate with teachers to solve all the problems that teachers face including the issues of accommodation, transfers, and security for their pension.
The party would also continue with the upgrading of TTCs that it began in its previous administration, and provide the centers of learning and excellence for the instructions that teachers need, he indicated.
“We will endeavor to provide those centers of instruction to improve the level of attitudes of our teachers to ensure that the young people of our country are provided an opportunity to become like their counterparts in other parts of the world”, he added.
He further assured teachers that “you will have a government that understands the difficulties and challenges of the teaching profession and that recognize the role that you can play. Together, we can collaborate to ensure that we position the teacher in the center of our educational policy.”
On the occasion of the world teachers’ day, The Chronicle salutes teachers everywhere in the world and particularly Ghanaian teachers for their dedication and contribution to the nation and its people. Long live Ghana, long live teachers!!!
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