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Opinions of Sunday, 4 October 2015

Columnist: Amoah, Anthony Kwaku

Selecting the teacher for national award

By Anthony Kwaku Amoah


Madam Benedicta Naana Biney, a former Director General of the Ghana Education Service (GES) during the 19th National Best Teacher Awards in 2013 at Wa said, “You are still in the service as teachers because of your headwork, excellent credentials and talents. You have continually impressed with your decisive and efficient manner in guiding our school children through many difficult situations. I salute you for this great effort.”
The National Best Teacher Awards Scheme (NBTAS) has existed since 1995. I read the lips of Mr. Alex Kyeremeh, a Deputy Minister of Education, the other day when he stated, “Teachers have therefore been recognized as the most important resource in educational programmes; hence the institution of the Best Teacher Award Scheme in 1995.” Though some people may have concerns about how it is conducted, the Awards blows some air of motivation and honour at the classroom teacher at least for that day of the celebration.
The NBTAS, with Madam Rabiana Azaratu Amandi as its national coordinator, has been reviewed this year to sound National Best Teacher and School Awards Scheme (NBTSAS) so that best performing schools can also be awarded. It may be a wonder to hear how possible it is for a single teacher at a corner to be identified out of a large pool of teachers in the country for such a national award. Teaching, just like any other profession, has set standards and performance indicators. The Ghana Education Service (GES) is on the field and monitoring. Its records are generally regular and accurate to allow for easy identification of good performing personnel. This write-up gives a highlight of how our teachers are selected for the national Honours.
The Selection process
Our nation’s educational system is finely decentralized and all-involving. The task of providing quality education is no more for the schools only. Communities, organizations and stakeholders are all a part now and doing fairly well. It is therefore not just an assignment for the head teacher alone or the director of education to name a teacher for an award. Teachers, head teachers and circuit supervisors work together with stakeholders, such as assembly members, community opinion leaders and traditional leaders to shortlist outstanding teachers in their jurisdictions. The selected teachers then go through interviews at the circuit, district and regional levels before they move to the national level for further assessment and selection. Heads of second cycle institutions also recommend outstanding teachers in their institutions to compete through the levels as in the case of the basic schools. It is this same process that goes with non-teaching staff also. Names of all shortlisted teachers usually reach district offices by the end of April each year for onward submission to the national level through the regional level.
After preliminary assessments by panelists through interviews at the national level, teachers who emerge tops in the various categories from the regions are further assessed by a field investigation team who go to the schools of the teachers to ascertain the information supplied on them. It is the outcome of this assessment which determines who qualifies to be adjudged the national best teacher, first runner-up, second runner-up and so on.
The criteria for selecting awardees
The Awards recognizes different categories of teachers, including kindergarten teachers, primary school teachers, junior high school teachers, senior high school teachers, basic school mathematics and science teachers, second cycle science and mathematics teachers, technical and vocational subject teachers, special education teachers, ICT teachers, technical institute teachers, French teachers and even non-teaching staff. From this year, all pre-tertiary schools, including technical and vocational schools with congenial environments and conditions for effective teaching and learning, are included in the Awards.
Parameters used for assessing teachers include professional competence, personality factors and the teacher’s contribution to community service. In terms of professional competence, items like academic potentialities, quality of teaching, and the teacher’s knowledge of subject matter, initiative and use of teaching pedagogy are considered highly.
Professionally, a teacher is expected to exhibit a good command of social, moral, emotional and spiritual attitudes that provide motivation to children and youth in school and in the community. The teacher’s work experience in rural setting and the attitude towards others, especially those with special needs is an added advantage. Equity and fairness is a great value in quality education delivery.
On community service, the teacher’s participation in and contribution to the social, economic, cultural and moral development of the local community is key. How could a teacher vying for the best teacher slot be linked to drug abuse, corruption and sexual immorality? The teacher must be seen to be ‘holy’ if education is to be holistic. In fact, the teacher must be looked upon by others as an opinion leader sort of.
Aside of all this, a teacher must work for a minimum of five years with innovation and creativity. The teacher must have a record of good academic and professional competence with great knowledge on educational policies and issues. Active membership with teacher and subject associations is also plus.
Tamale hosts this year’s event on Monday, 5th October, 2015 and the theme is “Empowering teachers, building sustainable societies”. The President, ministers of state, directors of education, traditional authorities and a host of others are expected to be in attendance. Acting Director General of GES, Mr Jacob Kor, has also been very busy all along to ensure that the programme happens well. Some outstanding foreign volunteers serving in our schools, national service personnel and retired teachers will also be honoured.
Long live the teacher! Long live the NBTSAS!! Long live our Ghana!!!
The writer is a staff of the Public Relations Officer of the Ghana Education Service.