You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2016 06 23Article 449892

Opinions of Thursday, 23 June 2016

Columnist: Abdulai, Iddrisu

GES erred on teacher management

The Ghana Education Service (GES) most likely made a deadly mistake by allowing teachers in pretertiary institutions to split into different unions. These unions include GNAT, Nagrat (sorry NAGRAT as they write it) and CCT (Coalition of Concerned Teachers).

GNAT, the original union, probably has the largest membership. I lean towards GNAT but regret for its unprofessional (sorry non-professional) stance which compelled some of our members to leave us for good. That is, the teachers who left and formed Nagrat and CCT have GENUINE concerns which could have been resolved to maintain one union for teachers.

This write-up is not the platform for debating the pros and cons of the teacher unions. But what’s it about? It is all about one of the direct negative effects of a divided teacher front.

The write-up is in response to an ad captioned GNAT/CTF in-service courses 2016…. that appeared on Daily Graphic @ 21/06/2016. As stated in the caption, the ad invites teachers (from primary to senior high school) to attend a FREE training programme on nearly all subjects including basic school management.
The number-one requirement for a to-be participant is that s/he must be a GNAT member. The question then is ‘Does GES have separate schools for members of the different teacher unions?’ The reason is that the training is to equip teachers with more knowledge and skills for teaching. If only GNAT members attend and learn new and improved skills of teaching, it means that only students taught by these teachers will benefit.
How will the thousand-and-one students being taught by non-GNAT members also gain from that training? This situation demands that the other teacher unions duplicate the training programmes for their members. This duplication only increases cost and leads to loss of instructional time. ALL THESE ARE AVOIDABLE CHALLENGES!
I still hope, albeit all odds, that one day ALL teachers will see the need to unite. Any divided group has never succeeded in solving its challenges. And in practice, no group exists without internal differences. Thus far, it remains unclear whether the breakaway unions are satisfying their members’ expectations. GNAT has the unbeatable record of always being a disappointment to its heterogeneous and loosely defined membership. Period.
This write-up cannot end without referring to an ACADEMIC DISEASE which has attained NATIONAL STATUS. This disease is incorrect spellings. In the said ad, this misspelling appeared: inteRgrated science. Obviously, the wrong spelling came from the source. That is, GNAT mostly likely sent the notice (ad) with the incorrect spelling which was published verbatim /ver-bei-tim/.
It is extremely surprising that teachers cannot spell the name of the subject they teach. But what is the cause? Simple mispronunciation. Many a teacher mispronounce INTEGRATED /in-TI-grei-ted/ as ‘in-TA-grei-ted’ such that the beginning part sounds like that of INTERnational. Hence, they insert a second ‘R’. The correct spelling has only one ‘R’ after ‘G’.
Is that the only wrong spelling for which this writer claims that incorrect spelling is a national disease? Oh No! The main highway through Kwame Nkrumah Circle to Achimota is named after former President JA KuFuor. This KUFUOR (the only correct spelling) has one ‘F’ which is followed by ‘U’ and then by ‘OR’. The label on the street is JA KUFFOUR. That is, the wrong spelling has two Fs that are followed by ‘OUR’.
Perhaps, the most prominent Ghanaian with the name KUFFOUR is the former Blackstars defender Samuel Osei Kuffour. So, in Ghana, a state dept (that is, the one that labelled the streets) cannot spell the names of our former presidents! How many former presidents has Ghana?
Are these the only national wrong spellings? Hmm! The branding and rebranding of the Metro buses brought in another one. That is, LIMANN with two Ns at its end is misspelled as Dr HILLA LIMAN. That is, the incorrect spelling has only one N.
Do you want more examples? They abound. But just imagine that govt institutions can misspell the names of former presidents, which other keyword will they ever take time to look at?
Back to GES. There is a body called WAEC, which probably institutionalizes and partly nationalizes some of the errors. For example, ICT which means information and communicationS technology is examined at BECE with the ‘S’ omitted. I notified the Council through a number of platforms but because the Council seems to test positive to making spelling mistakes it continues to drop the ‘S’. If you say the ‘S’ is irrelevant, write ‘The boy are coming’.
Another one. In WASSCE InTEGRated Science, 2016, the last question (6d) reads ‘Differentiate between acid salt and norNal salt’. My students who took the exams came to ask me whether ‘nornal salt’ was a new terminology I didn’t teach them. And my response was ‘Small boys are young’. ‘You will grow to know WAEC’.
The incorrect spelling didn’t matter to me. But what matters? The inappropriate answer in the marking scheme. WAEC and its associate authors incorrectly assume that only salts with replaceable hydrogen ions in their formulae are acid salts (eg, KHCO3 and NaHCO3). That is, the Council is most likely unaware that some normal salts are acid salts. For example; NaCl, NH4Cl and Na2CO3 are all normal salts (salts that lack replaceable hydrogen ions). However, NaCl is a neutral salt, NH4Cl is an acid salt and Na2CO3 is a basic salt.
Wouldn’t you wonder where Ghana is going with this institutionalized error-based reasoning and acting? The good news is that diligent teachers and students are seemingly locked up in the system. And when we are to explode, we will explode massively, FORCIBLY seize control of national affairs and meticulously direct all academic activities. May you live to see that day! Ei-men!
Long live practising teachers. Long live Kwame Nkrumah’s Ghana!
Idris Pacas
020-9101533 & 027-9101533