Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, we welcome you to our Press Conference this morning. It has been a while since our last Press Conference. This is not occasioned by the absence of issues and concerns. Indeed there have been issues but fortunately we were able to handle them somehow without resorting to the Press. Today however, an issue has come to the fore and everyone is either asking questions or proffering explanation and justification.
This issue concerns the licensing of teachers in the Ghana Education Service (GES). We are grateful and extend to you our profound appreciation for your prompt response to our invitation to this Press Conference in spite of the short notice. This Press Conference is intended to cover the following:
THE LEGAL BASES FOR LICENSING OF TEACHERS
The Policy of licensing teachers stem from the Education Act 2008 (Act 778). Provided for in this Act is the establishment of a National Teaching Council with the function of licensing and registration of teachers among others. It is therefore established that the licensing and registration of teachers have legal backing. Bearing this in mind, the question of whether NAGRAT accepts the Policy of Teacher Licensing and Registration becomes irrelevant since the Association is law-abiding. For the sake of clarity let me state that NAGRAT is neither resisting licensing and registration of teachers nor questioning the mandate of the National Teaching Council to do so. The above notwithstanding, we have issues with the procedure for implementation of the Policy.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the law prescribes that teachers should be registered and licensed but does not prescribe how. Permit me to ask a few seemingly naïve questions. Are teachers going to be registered and licensed through an inspection of their certificates and or work? Will they be registered by oral examinations (interviews)? Will the licensing and registration be preceded by written examinations? What will be the syllabus for such assessment?
The law cannot spell out these gray areas together with many other issues worth consideration. The questions above are indicative of the need for broad consultations with all stakeholders before any attempt at implementing the Policy is embarked upon. Regrettably, we in NAGRAT cannot say that we have enjoyed sufficient consultation on the implementation process so as to feel part of it and to assure ourselves that the procedure for implementation will not short-changes us. It is true that there has been some sort of consultation but at such consultative encounters, we have raised concerns that have not been addressed yet some hyper-active players are all over the media landscapes pontificating the implementation process with timelines. Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, we are the people who will go through the examination in whatever form it may come; we are the people to be licensed or denied license; we are the users of that holy license. Should we not get our concerns addressed first? Quality education delivery is team-work so it becomes very surprising when some players arrogate every decision-making and activity in the education industry to themselves with impunity and turn around in mock surprise that we are asking questions. How can anybody think that the mere issuance of a license is enough to bring about effective teaching and learning? Have we forgotten the wise saying that garment alone do not make a monarch? Please, let us make haste slowly.
PROCEDURE FOR LICENSING
The National Teaching Council has developed procedures for licensing and registration of teachers. Going by one procedure, a Teacher Trainee passes an examination conducted by the College of Education. Then the prospective teacher applies to take the licensing examination. Upon passing the licensing examination, the trainee is given a registration number and a provisional license. The trainee then applies to the GES to get posted. After posting, the trainee completes an induction and receives the full license.
Following a second procedure, the trainee passes the examination from the College of Education and NTC gives out a registration number and provisional license. The trainee then applies to GES for posting and gets posted. The trainee completes induction and receives the full license or passes NTC examination. These procedures are not the same. Which of them is the Teaching Council using? The National Teaching Council has to come clear on this.
The National Teaching Council has been a major contributor to the development of the National Teachers Standards and the National Teacher Education Curriculum Framework. These documents are used in the Colleges of Education for the training of Pre-service Teachers. A Teacher Trainee passes exams at the College of Education based on these documents. The same trainee takes the Licensure examination which is also based on the same National Teachers Standard and National Teacher Education Curriculum Framework. It appears that we would be organizing an exercise of duplication of efforts. What would be wrong with making the licensure exam a paper at the final examination of final year Teacher Trainees at the College of Education?
Again it is pertinent to ask if passing the licensure examination guarantees that the teacher will be appointed and posted by the Ghana Education Service. Is it not conceivable that a pre-service teacher could be made to pay for the licensure examination and receives registration and the provisional license only to fail to secure appointment from the Ghana Education Service? Should that occur, would the Teacher Trainee not be better off without paying money to write the licensure examination? Once more, it is necessary to smoothen all these rough edges before the registration and licensing begin.
CONCERNS OF NAGRAT
Ladies and Gentlemen, the main requirements for issuance and renewal of licenses are capacity building workshops, in-service training and Continuous Professional Development. NAGRAT is gravely concerned as to how many of these workshops and training activities a teacher will require to have his/her license renewed. Again there the question of how much the training workshops will cost and who bears the cost. These questions have been asked by the Teacher Unions and have been left hanging. If the cost associated with the operation of a policy is left unaddressed, how can one expect those who may have to pay it to embrace the policy? The National Teaching Council will do itself a lot of good if it comes out clear on the cost involved and those responsible for its payment.
Another concern of teachers is the relationship between licensing and registration and job security for teachers. The continuous stay of teachers in the classroom depends on their ability to renew their license every now and then. The renewal of the license also depends on passing various tests including ability to stay clear from disciplinary issues. An allegation leveled a teacher is sufficient to deny him/her renewal of license. That also implies termination of appointments. Invariable, there is loss of job security and teachers will be prone to undue victimization.