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Opinions of Thursday, 15 October 2015

Columnist: Amoah, Anthony Kwaku

Using fake certificates to teach

By Anthony Kwaku Amoah
This might have come as a surprise to some people but it is the truth. As some people operate as teachers though they have no certificates, others try to use forged documents to teach our children.
Teaching is a noble and enviable job. It has to be jealously protected and preserved against the invasion by charlatans. It is never a ‘job for the boys’. One needs a strong base of academic, professional, social and moral resources to be able to do it well. The trained teacher adopts appropriate instructional materials and teaching pedagogy to cause a lasting desirable change in the life of the learner.
Broadly speaking, teachers in public pre-tertiary schools under the control of the Ghana Education Service (GES) are categorized into professional and non-professional teachers. The minimum teaching qualification of professional teachers at the basic school level shall be the Diploma in Basic Education obtained from any of the accredited higher educational institutions for training teachers. The minimum teaching qualification of professional teachers for second cycle level is a Bachelor’s degree in Education designed in the appropriate subject(s) for that level; or a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree (in any teaching subject) in addition to a Post Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) or its equivalent.
Who says teaching is a ‘stepping stone’? Money is spent on training people to become professional teachers. The GES will soon issue licenses to its new teachers. Colleges of education and education universities, such as University of Cape Coast and University of Education, Winneba have the accreditation to train teachers and they do it. GES, in special instances, engages the services of untrained or non-professional teachers. Non-professional teachers (sometimes referred to as pupil teachers) are persons holding the Senior High School (SHS) certificate with three credits, including English and Mathematics; persons with diploma from accredited polytechnics and other non-teaching tertiary institutions and university graduates without certificates in education.
However, GES hardly employs non-professional and pupil teachers to teach in our schools these days. Notwithstanding the current ban on public sector employment, GES now wants only professional teachers in schools. The Untrained Teachers’ Diploma in Basic Education (UTDBE) programme, distance education, sandwich learning mode and the traditional Study Leave with Pay Scheme are packages approved of by GES to create the chance for professional training and continuing professional development of teachers. Serving personnel of say, technical and vocational backgrounds, qualify to pursue education courses so as to become professional teachers.
Director-General Jacob Aaworb-Nang Maabobr Kor and GES are just not happy to have learnt that there are still teachers without certificates or with forged certificates in some of our schools. GES is intensifying its operations to weed dubious personnel out of the system. Last year, GNA Media Auditing and Development Tracking Project teamed up with Star-Ghana to expose about 120 pupil teachers with fake documents in Upper Manya Krobo District of the Eastern Region. The report revealed that persons with as low as basic education certificates managed to creep into the school system and acted as teachers with fake certificates. GES, without delay, conducted an investigation into this exposé and the victims were sacked from the Service.
Goaso Municipal Director of Education in Brong Ahafo Region Jonas Yelboureri Yeboah dismissed about 40 basic school teachers who had been teaching for three years with forged certificates. Mr. Yeboah is on record to have said, “After using fake certificates to secure jobs for three years now, we have given them dismissal letters to go home while investigations continue.” According to him, the exposé happened following an investigation by the Municipal Education Oversight Committee (MEOC) into poor performance of pupils at the Basic Education Certificate Examination (B.E.C.E) for three consecutive years.
Just recently, the police arrested one Samuel Yeboah of Boakye Tromo Senior High Technical School in Brong Ahafo Region for using fake certificates to teach for way over a period of 5 years. He managed to rely on fake Higher National Diploma in Marketing from Accra Polytechnic and a degree in mathematics from University of Cape Coast all along. It was Mr. George Awuah, his headmaster, who raised an alarm over the situation upon a tip-off. GES quickly investigated the case and subsequently cleared him off the payroll after GES corroborated the claim. GES is a human institution; impostors may want to sneak into it to perform nefarious activities.
Last year, the Jaman South District Directorate of Education, through an instruction by the Teacher Education Division of GES, withdrew the services of 17 teachers for using fake certificates to teach. These unsuspecting personnel managed to gain admission to the University of Cape Coast to read the UTDBE course but failed to succeed and they were sacked. Mr. Kingsley Abrokwa, the district director of education, did firm his resolve and that of GES to rid the system of fake elements who parade as teachers and public education workers.
The taste of people to enter the education sector with questionable papers appears to be on the rise these days. Even pupils in basic schools now struggle to access certificates through foul means notwithstanding the consequences that this action could bring onto them when caught. Cases of examination practices keep recurring every year. Registrar of Takoradi Polytechnic Silvia Oppong-Mensah once revealed that some students are ready to have grades like D7, E8 and F9 at the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) falsified to say, A1, in order to gain admission to institutions of higher learning.
Universities, such as the University of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and University of Cape have sacked students over the years for using forged certificates for admission. The recent arrest of a Takoradi-based man, also called Dr Sam, by the police of the University of Cape Coast over his alleged involvement in the production of fake results for people to gain admission to the university is a fresh case. The belief is that there are other people into this counterfeit job within our system. And why would anyone choose to sail on an unapproved route to success in life at all?
Charity, they say, begins at home. Parents, families and society should austerely imbibe in their children and young people the virtues of honesty, integrity and excellence. There is no need to resort to unorthodox means to success. Any child, for example, who is suspected to have altered an original examination result from school should be thoroughly investigated and punished if culpable. It is inappropriate and suicidal for an undesirable behavior involving the child to be treated with disdain. Little drops of water make a mighty ocean and so to overlook a fraudulent act committed by the child is to bolster his or her appetite to continue to commit it and even greater. Young adults need proper guidance and reinforcements so as to live to expectation.
Mr. Kor, on behalf of the Management of GES, released a circular last month to all regions, districts and schools in the country for directors and heads of schools to constitute Commissions of Enquiry to audit the certificates of teachers in all public pre-tertiary schools. The task of eliminating counterfeit elements from any system is an all-inclusive one. Teachers, heads of schools and circuit supervisors must work hard. Teachers should volunteer information on colleagues with doubtful qualifications.
Names of teachers with employment details, such as schools attended, dates of birth and professional ranks should be displayed on notice boards in school offices for all staff to appreciate. Directors and officers should ensure that the certificates of persons seeking employment in the Service are properly scrutinized and validated. Documents presented for promotions, salary upgrading and adjustments by staff should be certified and endorsed by the awarding institutions and authorities.

The GES shall continue to do proper audit and cleansing of its staff on Payroll. Its resolve for staff to work with certificates from only state-accredited institutions still stands. Quality education delivery happens, to a large extent, with quality personnel. Society must not sit aloof as miscreants invade schools to mislead our children. Traditional authorities, assembly members and the media must get on board. After all, the school is for all of us!

This article commends Mr. Jacob Kor on his appointment by the President as the substantive Director-General of GES. Congrats, D-G!

The writer is a Public Relations Officer at the Headquarters of the Ghana Education Service.