8 September 2017

Ghana: International Literacy Day - Teachers Question New Licensing Policy

Photo: Presidency
Ghanaians celebrate free schooling at the senior high school level.

As of September 2017, teachers in Ghana require certification to teach in schools, despite sitting for exams at their various training institutions. Concerns and uncertainties remain.

The government of Ghana is hoping to raise the standard of teaching with this new policy, which has met with criticism by some teachers.

Hundreds of teachers undergo training at the Accra teacher training college every year before they are posted to schools across the country. They take various exams, which until this week enabled them to graduate as teachers. But as of September, that is no longer sufficient: the up and coming teachers have to go through yet another screening to be issued with a teacher's license.

Implementation of this new policy has been dragging on since 2008.

'Demonstrate competence'

The aim is to ensure that teachers have the necessary qualities required to be a professional teacher in Ghana, says Akwesi Adai Boahene of Ghana's National Teaching Council (NTC).

"Those competences need to be agreed on by all the stakeholders," he told DW, adding that soon-to-be teachers must prove they passed competence training.

Some teachers at Accra Teacher Training College have raised concerns, however.

They don't consider licensing to be the most prominent issue confronting professionalism in Ghana's education sector.

Some say licensing teachers without giving them access to textbooks won't lead to "professional development and results" because how should they work?

According to the CIA World Factbook, 76.6 percent of Ghana's adult population was literate in 2015.

Others argue that "writing exams or going for a short interview is not the means to tell whether a person is going to do well or not."

Licensing and registration

Education Minister Matthew Opoku Prempeh argues the government doesn't want to flood the classrooms with teachers who "use the colleges of education as a stop-gap measure" butdon't really want to take up teaching as a profession. "That is why retention has become a particularly difficult problem for us."

Peter Koda, public relations officer at the country's biggest teachers' union, the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), concedes the mode of licensing teachers is still unclear, as are issues concerning the standardization of curricula used to teach these teachers.

Some teachers are trained at colleges, others at universities - but the training is not the same, he told DW. "We want it to be standardized."

While the government is adamant the policy go into effect in September, it has been reluctant to provide details of how the licensing will be carried out.

Whether it will significantly resolve the issue of the quality and standard of teaching across schools in Ghana is yet to be seen.

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