18 August 2017

Ghana: Napo Joins Teacher Licensing Fray - Says Ministry Has No Control Over NTC, and That It Is a Regulator

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The Minister for Education, Dr Mathew Opoku Prempeh, says his ministry has nothing to do with the proposed examination for licensing of teachers in the country, which has sparked off heated debates.

Reacting to the front-page story The Chronicle carried yesterday, where the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) dared the Education Ministry to implement the policy to license them, the Minister said the National Teaching Council (NTC), which is championing the new policy, is a legal body tasked with the responsibility to regulate the teaching profession.

To him, therefore, the work of such a legal entity cannot be attributed to the Education Ministry.

"The National Teaching Council exists in law, just as [the] General Legal Council for lawyers; Medical and Dental Council for Doctors and Dentists; Pharmacy Council for Pharmacists; Architects Registration Council for Architects; Psychologists Council for Psychologists, and Traditional Medical Practitioners Council for Herbalists. All these bodies license and regulate their professions and have their own licensing arrangements," he said.

The Acting Executive Secretary of the NTC, Evelyn Oduro, stoked the fire recently, when she announced, whilst addressing the 10th Congregation of the Peki College of Education in the South Dayi District of the Volta Region, that teachers would be required to write a license examination before they would be allowed to practice. She rooted her argument in the Education Act 2008, Act 778.

Section 11 of the said Act, which talks about the composition of the NTC, reads: 'There is established by this Act a body known as the National Teaching Council.'

Functions of the Council

The functions of the Council are;

(a) to advise the Minister responsible for Education

(i) on matters relating to the professional standing and status of teachers and

(ii) on teacher education, including the provision of facilities for in-service training, and the employment of teachers;

(b) to recommend to the Minister professional standards required for the registration of teachers;

(c) to periodically review professional practice and ethical standards for teachers and teaching;

(d) to register teachers after they have satisfied the appropriate conditions for initial licensing and issue the appropriate licence;

(e) to review, through its disciplinary committees, appeals cases of professional misconduct and confirm, vary or rescind the decision of the district disciplinary committee;

(f) to confirm, vary or, rescind a decision of the district disciplinary committee;

(g) to evoke a teacher's licence to teach after establishing a case of grave professional misconduct;

(h) to give approval for the suspension of a teacher from teaching after satisfying itself that the teacher has contravened laid down regulations governing the professional conduct of teachers; and

(i) to approve the re-registration of a suspended teacher who has served the suspension and has been recommended for re-registration by the district disciplinary committee.

The General Secretary of GNAT, David Ofori Acheampong, admitted in an interview he granted The Chronicle on Monday, this week, which Dr Napo is reacting to, that they are aware of the existence of the Act, but, the NTC, under the law, is mandated to advise the sector Ministry on policies, but not to be the Ministry's spokesperson.

"When the NTC advises the Ministry, procedures are followed to reach us with the outcome... you don't go public to say what you don't have to say, when you are not even the governing Chairperson of the NTC," the GNAT General Secretary said.

David Ofori Acheampong told The Chronicle: "Where is Dr. Evelyn Oduro coming from? The NTC that is even mandated to advise the Education Ministry on policies was constituted only last Friday. Can she, therefore, tell us when the NTC met to advise the sector Minister on this licensing examination policy?

"We are already informed of producing well-balanced individuals with the requisite knowledge, skills, values, aptitudes and attitudes to become functional. Therefore, they should bring the examination on," Mr Acheampong told The Chronicle.

Dr Mathew Opoku Prempeh, the Education Minister, in a whatsapp interaction with this reporter yesterday, argued that the paper should have struck the difference between his ministry and the NTC, which has been established by law to regulate the affairs of the teaching profession, and that, whatever policies they have come out with, is not necessarily coming from his ministry.

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