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Opinions of Sunday, 25 August 2013

Columnist: Agyemang, Katakyie Kwame Opoku

Remove Ban on Teacher Recruitment

Please, Remove Ban on Teacher Recruitment to Save our Schools

It is no gainsaying that inadequate teachers in our classrooms had negatively affected academic standards in both first and second cycle institutions. The situation in the remotest parts of this country is even worrisome as few teachers handle large class sizes making class supervision and marking of scripts burdensome to teachers. Although, the government of Ghana has spent billions of Ghana cedis in recruitment, training, and retention of teachers, yet a large proportion of trained teachers continue to leave the profession for other lucrative jobs in and outside Ghana.

There are other teachers who also leave the profession for further studies abroad but do not come back. My wife and I have been trained as teachers, taught in both basic and secondary schools for nearly a decade, until we decided to improve upon our knowledge and skills through further studies in the United Kingdom.

Upon completion of our postgraduate studies in the UK, the cost which was born by ourselves and not the government Ghana, we have decided to respond to the clarion call on Ghanaians in the diaspora to come back home to play their part in the "Better Ghana" agenda. One would argue that lecturing in the tertiary institutions is far better, in terms of monetary rewards, than taking up teaching appointment in a second cycle institution. But, I believe that teaching is a call and that my heart and mind are geared towards serving the interest of our younger brothers and sisters in the lower institutions more than their counterparts in the tertiary levels. Therefore, having specialised in Science Education and Economics/Geography respectively, our hope was that the Ghana Education Service, which had complained of poor teacher:pupil ratio would receive us with open arms.

However, little did we know that we were coming to Ghana to be frustrated. As a first step, we reported to the Ashanti Regional Directorate of Education for advice. We were told to write application letters for re-engagement. Later, we were asked to get assurance letters from any of the secondary schools of our choice. To our surprise, all the heads of the institution we visited in Ashanti Region "sang the same song". They argued that they were over-staffed due to the joint completion of the SHS 3 and 4 batches this year. Thus, until the 2013 JHS graduates were placed, it would be difficult for them to admit new teachers.

Fortunately for me, one headmistress was willing to accept me, if only the Regional Directorate would facilitate the process. I passed on the message to the Ashanti Regional Directorate of Education, only to be shown a memo from Ms Benedicta Naana Biney, Director General of Ghana Education Service (GES), that a ban had been placed on teacher recruitment with effect from August 20, 2013. In fact, emphasis was even laid on teachers for re-engagement that no vacancies exist for them.

Admittedly, I would side with the Director-General on the ban on graduates who are not already teachers, if and only if the teacher population is adequate for our schools. However, for those who left the job for one or two reasons and have decided to come back into the profession, I find it hard to understand the Director-General's directive.

Why should my wife and I, as well as as other Ghanaians be denied the opportunity to serve our country, when the government had invested so much in our training? Was it a bad idea to improve upon our academic knowledge and teaching skills abroad as professional teachers? Is Ghana self-sufficient in teacher population? Is that the reason behind the government's intention to scrap teacher trainee allowances? So, where would the newly trained teachers from the Colleges of Education, tertiary institutions, and even those on study leaves be posted to teach? Assuming the current government's dream of building 200 senior high schools materialises, where would the GES get teachers to teach the students?

It would therefore serve the interest of all Ghanaians, especially the stakeholders of education, if the Director General of GES or the Education Minister for that matter, comes out and clarify the issue and answer the questions posed above. Education is pre-requisite for socio-economic and political development of any country, including Ghana. In this direction, every effort should be made to remove any barrier that has the tendency to affect it negatively. It is my hope that Parliament, parents, Teacher Unions, and the media would treat this issue with urgency.

God bless Ghana! God bless Teachers!! God bless Kufuor!!!

Katakyie Kwame Opoku Agyemang, Asante Bekwai-Asakyiri

(Free SHS Ambassador) Official blog: (www.katakyie.com) katakyienpp@yahoo.co.uk 0202471070 : 0264931361