Why The Need For Professional Development?
In Ghana just as elsewhere between 85 and 90 per cent of a total school budget is used to pay employee salaries. The essence of successful instruction and good schools comes from the thoughts and actions of the professionals in the schools who are mainly teachers. So, if one is to look for success in education, the most sensible thing to do is to provide continuous education for the educators, that is professional development.
The GNAT as an organization rests on a tripod. The three legs of the GNAT are the Trade Union leg; the Public Affairs leg and the Education and Professional Development leg. Each of these legs reinforces the other. For instance teachers need to have decent salaries and conditions of service to be able to deliver their professional services in the classrooms. Conversely, teachers ought to be seen to be delivering effectively and efficiently to strengthen the hand of their union leaders to bargain for attractive conditions of service that would retain them in the profession.
In addition to collective bargaining resulting to improved conditions, the GNAT as the largest public sector union with a very wide national spread embraces teachers who assume the role of credible opinion leaders and whatever views they express on public/national affairs is received with respect and trust.
This puts the extra burden on teachers to expand and deepen their frontiers of knowledge on general issues such as the economy, politics, religion, culture, international relations, HIV and Aids, the environment, technology etc. so that they would be of utmost benefit not only to their students but to their communities as well.
CHARACTERISTICS OF SUCCESSFUL PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMMES (LAWRENCE 1974)
- Involvement of administrators and supervisors in planning and delivering the programme.
- Differential training experiences for different teachers
- Placement of the teacher in an active role (generating materials, ideas and behaviours)
- Emphasis on demonstrations, supervised trials and feedback, teacher sharing and mutual assistance
- Linkage of activities to general professional development programme
- Teacher choice of goals and activities
- Teacher self-initiated and self-directed training activities.
GNAT'S EDUCATION AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT ROLE
A number of principles inform GNAT's Education and Professional Development Role.
a) Members of the Association must understand national educational policies especially at the pre-tertiary level
b) The Association should participate in educational policy formulation (especially at pre-tertiary level) and where it is not possible to participate, the Association should be able to influence policy decisions from a professional viewpoint.
c) The Association should be able to collaborate with GES and MOE in designing and implementing teacher training programmes namely pre-service, inservice and further education programmes.
d) The Association should participate in quality assurance measures such as fixing standards for critical levels of pre-tertiary education such as at the BECE, WASSCE and professional teacher qualification examinations.
e) The Association is also interested in giving feedback to the relevant authorities on quality issues bordering on the curriculum, logistics, infrastructure, supervision, monitoring and evaluation and financing of education
CURRENT EDUCATION AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMMES
GNAT/CTF Project Nkabom
This is a project developed by CTF (mainly Nova Scotia Teachers Union; NSTU) and GNAT to address the challenges posed by the EFA goals in 2002.
The two teacher unions (GNAT & CTF) facilitate a consultative process with Headteachers, teachers, pupils, community leaders (Chiefs, Assemblymen and women, PTA, SMC), District Education Officers and District Chief Executives to identify barriers to effective education delivery.
Based upon findings from the consultations, implementable strategies are adopted to eliminate the barriers to education.
Currently the project is in its second phase and has both a curriculum/professional development component and a community development component. Greater-Accra, Ashanti, Brong-Ahafo, Volta and Northern regions are currently hosting the project.
One hundred resource persons have been trained by CTF volunteers and Ghanaian co-tutors in the thematic areas of Primary Mathematics, Primary Science, English Language, Early Childhood Education and Computer Skills and Library Management to train other teachers.
These trained resource persons are available to assist teachers in the project schools which are mainly deprived schools with teaching and learning materials preparation, pedagogical skills and support to other schools in the regions who might need their services.
The project has also assisted thirty (30) deprived communities to write their community profiles and action plans that would help upgrade the physical and human conditions generally and also improve school conditions towards effective teaching and learning.
GNAT/CTF Project Overseas Inservice Workshops
The professional development division also organizes with support from Canadian Teachers Federation (CTF) and Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) inservice workshops on an annual basis in subject areas where there is a felt need to do so. Currently the identified subject areas are; Leadership and Administration for Senior High School and Basic School heads, English Language for Senior High School, Mathematics for Senior High School, Junior High School Mathematics, French, Basic Design and Technology, Mathematics, Basic School Mathematics and Science for women teachers and primary mathematics.
These inservice, courses facilitated by CTF volunteers and GNAT co-tutors is hosted in three regions every year during July/August on a rotational basis.
Each course centre admits two hundred (200) participants through response to advertisements placed in the two national dailies to the GNAT Regional Secretaries who do the short-listing of applicants.
Aside the curriculum matters, participants also hold seminars on HIV and Aids facilitated by trained health professionals and hold Gender workshops to discuss contemporary gender issues and how to address the challenges.
GNAT/BUPL Early Childhood Programme
This programme which started as a project in 2002 has two main objectives: (a) to do advocacy in governmental circles and provide professional support for the early childhood sub-sector (b) to develop a union structure for early childhood educators from the private and public sectors affiliated to GNAT.
The Danish Union for Youth and Early Childhood Education (BUPL) is collaborating with GNAT on the programme.
Elements of services GNAT provides to early childhood educators include inservice training, opportunities for professional development leading to certification, provision of an opportunity for members to be part of the Teachers' Fund, Health Insurance, Pensions Scheme and Negotiations for better conditions of service.
In Ghana the programme has centres in Ashanti, Central, Greater Accra, Upper-East, Upper-West and Western Region.
There are also plans to develop a model of Early childhood Development centre in Wa in the Upper-West Region.
The ECD programme has also developed the West Africa sub programmes since 2008 in which the lessons learnt in Ghana are being shared with Nigeria and Togo by the National Project Co-ordinator with the support of BUPL.
THE CONSULTATIVE COUNCIL OF TEACHERS' ASSOCIATION (CCTA)
The CCTA is responsible for the co-ordination of the activities of Subject Teachers associations in the pre-tertiary education sub-sector in Ghana. Some of the active subject associations are;
- Mathematics Association of Ghana (MAG)
- Ghana Association of Teachers of English (GATE)
- Ghana Home Economics Association (GHEA)
- Ghana Association of French Teachers (GAFT)
- Ghana Association of Business Education Teachers (GABET)
- Ghana Association of Science Teachers (GAST)
- Building Technology Teachers Association of Ghana (BUTAG)
- Ghana Association of Teachers in Special Education (GATSE)
- Ghana Art Teachers Association (GATA)
- Agricultural Science Teachers Association of Ghana (ASTAG)
- Engineering Teachers Association of Ghana (EnTAG)
- Association of Teachers of Ghanaian Language (ATGL)
- Physical Education Educators Association of Ghana (PEEAG)
- Ghana Association of Teachers of Social Studies (GATESS)
- Christian Religious Studies Teachers Association of Ghana (CRSTAG) etc.
Over the past years that it has been in existence, the CCTA has organized a number of seminars, workshops, on topical educational issues for members of the subject associations to upgrade their professional competence and deepen their knowledge.
The CCTA has also been in the forefront in sensitizing members of the Subject Associations in writing and publication of textbooks and supplementary reading materials. The CCTA has also offered financial support to the active subject associations to conduct their annual conferences.
Primary Science for Female Teachers
Another programme the PD division implements in the areas of teaching and learning science is known as Primary Science for female teachers.
The project was designed as a result of the findings of a survey conducted in the mid-nineties which revealed that many female primary teachers most of whom were Certificate 'A' (4-year) holders had inadequate content knowledge in elementary science but were required to teach the subject.
The mode of operation for this project is to identify a project district, do a baseline study in consultation with the District Director of education and mount the project for fifty (50) female teachers in primary school drawn from all over the district.
Trainees are equipped after their initial training with a Science kit box each, fully stocked with basic science equipment and materials for use in the teaching of science in their schools. Subsequent workshops equip participants with workshop skills so that they can lead school – based Inservice training in their schools and clusters.
There are six review meetings with resource persons who are experienced science educators themselves. After the sixth meeting and the assurance that the participants can manage school – based Inservice courses, the project is finally handed over to the District directorate of education
Caulley Reference Library
The main objectives of the Caulley Library are to (a) provide information services in support of the educational policy of the association; (b) provide access to professional literature to enable educators and prospective teachers obtain a better understanding of the vast field of educational knowledge and (c) offer assistance to persons seeking information on issues pertinent to education for study and research.
From the foregoing it can be noticed that the clientele of the library are teachers, GNAT staff, researchers and students.
The library currently stocks books, magazines, reports and encyclopaedias. An internet café is also attached. The library annually updates its collections by acquiring books from local sources and abroad. By January 2010 acquisitions stood at 597 including the latest edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica.