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Opinions of Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Columnist: Amoah, Anthony Kwaku

When Teachers Are Issued With Licenses

By Anthony Kwaku Amoah

Available statistics indicates that school performance is getting worse as the years go by. Pupil attrition rates from junior high to senior high levels continue to rise. Several factors, including poor teacher performance are blamed for the development.

Governments have put in some efforts to remedy the situation. Our education system has really gone through many changes over the years. Every regime has had a bite on the system. The 8-year constitutional rule of President Rawlings has a story to tell about our system. The junior secondary school concept got into full gear during Rawlings regime. At its initial stage, the concept faced a myriad of administrative and managerial difficulties, such as staffing, personnel quality and motivation and also logistics. Actually, the implementation of the teaching and learning syllabuses at the time was hectic and sub-standard. School workshops and laboratories were mostly controlled by untrained personnel from some technical and vocational schools in the country then. The final results of student pioneers of the junior secondary system were very bad.

Ex-President Kufuor’s 8-year term recorded some strides. Many schools were supplied with trained teachers, teaching and learning logistics and other infrastructure.

In a bid to improve upon teaching and learning, the Kufuor administration did upgrade all the state teacher training colleges into diploma-awarding colleges of education having the first batch of students graduating with Diploma in Basic Education in 2007. Serving teachers with ordinary certificates or no professional certificates at all were also permitted to pursue education diplomas mostly by sandwich with Cape Coast and Winneba universities. No education system can be stagnant. Occasionally, there is the need for some modifications in order for it to be in line with modern trends. Stakeholders are usually consulted and used in any reform process.

On January 17, 2002, ex-President Kufuor formed a 29-member committee chaired by then Vice-Chancellor of UEW, Professor Jophus Anamuah Mensah to review the 1974 Dzobo Education System which had been in operation since 1987.

This piece has no strength now to discuss the recommendations of the Anamuah-Mensah Committee. Meanwhile, through their work, names like the junior high school and senior high school emerged.

A large chunk of state resources have really gone into reviewing our education system yet our schools still struggle to do well. The question then goes: who is to blame? A multitude of factors, including poor supervision and monitoring have been identified. Laxity and mediocrity of teachers in the teaching and learning process have become rife in our school system. Education directors, supervisors and school heads must sit up. How can a school do well when its teachers are always absent from school, late for school and take to smoking and drinking? Some teachers do not even bother to prepare schemes of work, lesson notes and other instructional resources. A whole term could end with no assignment or project work for pupils. Affected pupils head for exams with little or no experience on how questions can be rightly tackled.

In as much as we impress upon government to motivate teachers and supply schools with new, better classroom blocks and logistics, directors and supervisors must also ensure that supervision and monitoring is effective in schools. Circuit supervisors and school heads must be empowered to perform their duties well. The current situation where circuit supervisors visit schools once in a while must be reconsidered. They should be assisted with reliable means of transport so they can regularly and effectively reach out to their schools. Teachers and school heads must be provided with bungalows and other amenities for them to comfortably reside in their schools to discharge their duties effectively. Directors must take suggestions and recommendations of circuit supervisors and school heads seriously and promptly act on them. They should not relax in taking actions against unruly teachers reported to them by school and circuit heads. This when done well can help clamp down on notorious staff in our schools for quality education to be enhanced.

Licensing teachers alone cannot be a panacea for quality education. Drivers are given licenses yet still there are daily gory reports of road accidents and avoidable deaths. Government should divert more resources into developing human resource and supervision. Licenses are almost repetitive of the professional certificates teachers receive from their colleges and universities.

Quality results are assured if teachers are well trained, resourced and regularly updated on new, better teaching pedagogies backed by proper supervision, monitoring and evaluation.

PTAs/SMCs, corporate bodies and NGOs must continue to show keen interest in the school and provide interventions, when needed. The time for us to lift the drowning school child from the pool of failure is NOW!