- His Excellency, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Head of state of the Republic of Ghana
- Honourable Ministers of State
- Director General of the Ghana Education Service
- Distinguished Award Winners
- Our Guests
- Ladies and Gentlemen
On behalf of the Unions in Education, I wish to extend our warmest compliments to all of you who have gathered here in solidarity with teachers in this country.
The World Teachers Day which is celebrated worldwide every year on October 5, aims at focusing on appreciating, assessing and improving the educators of the world. It also provides an opportunity to consider issues related to teachers and teaching.
In Ghana, the National Best Teacher Awards has been re-christened, the Ghana Teacher Prize.
The theme for this year’s celebration, “Young Teachers: The Future of the profession”, focuses the attention of governments the world over on the young teacher who, without doubt, is the future of the noble profession of teaching.
Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, as a nation, how do we ensure a steady supply of capable students who are eager to go into teaching and not only that, but also ensure that teachers stay in their jobs for a long time? Whenever there is a shortage in the supply of teachers, do we develop policies to address them without lowering standards?
The Unions in Education find the need to elevate the status of teaching if we intend to attract and retain teachers in the country. Additionally, we find paying teachers at about the same rate as other skilled professions that require similar levels of education, as one of the ways to achieve this.
We urge the Ghana Education Service (GES) to put in measures to ensure that young teachers who enter the profession benefit from strong mentorship programmes. Our reason for saying this is that, if we allow young teachers to swim or sink, it can be a reason why many will leave the profession.
We have observed that, a higher percentage of new teachers who were assigned mentors, remain in teaching compared to new teachers who did not have mentors.
CREATE A CAREER PATH FOR TEACHERS
The Unions in Education find the need for the teachers’ employer to create a career path for its employees. As professionals in the education sector, we know that if the job description for a teacher on the last day of work is the same as it was on the first, it is a recipe for a teacher burnout.
We therefore, call on the GES to put in measures to pave way for teachers to move up career ladders to gain more responsibility and higher pay without having to leave teaching into administration. This is to help reduce the attrition rate.
TEACHERS IN UNDERSERVED AREAS
From one government to another, the Unions in Education have made passionate appeals for the creation of incentives to teach in underserved areas. This can take the form of creating local incentives to cover relocation expenses, transitional housing and even offering free education to teacher trainees who commit to working in rural areas for a certain period.
PROMOTING A PROFESSION WORTH ENTERING
Ladies and gentlemen, making teaching an attractive profession can do more than any other step to ensure that, as a nation, we maintain a steady supply of well-qualified teachers who stay in teaching for a lifetime.
RETAINING YOUNG TEACHERS
The Unions in Education note with dissatisfaction the many young teachers who leave the profession before their skills are honed through experience. Providing support to young and novice teachers can influence their decisions to stay in their jobs.
ACCOMMODATION FOR TEACHERS
Mr. Chairman, we wish to reiterate the fact that, teachers still face serious challenges regarding accommodation, especially in the various rural areas they are posted to ply their trade. We therefore, call on Government to consider incorporating modest accommodation for teachers wherever new schools are constructed.
The Unions in Education believe that key stakeholders like school administrators, leaders of the Unions in Education, government policymakers and academics – who are often seen to be at odd with one another, should be brought together around the table to brainstorm on supporting our teachers for the betterment of learning in the country.
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE DOUBLE TRACK SYSTEM
Mr. Chairman, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, the Unions in Education are not against the implementation of the Double Track System introduced by the government in some of the Senior High Schools to absorb the increasing number of students who qualify to access Senior High School education in the country.
However, we have noticed that, its implementation has increased the workload on teachers. This, without doubt, is contributing towards a crisis in teacher recruitment and retention. If teachers found it difficult to achieve a work-life balance, the tendency for them to quit the profession hits high figures.
We urge Government to do everything in its power to ensure that such a situation does not arise.
THE PRE-TERTIARY EDUCATION BILL, 2019
Mr. President, our attention has been drawn to the fact that the Pre-tertiary Education Bill, 2019 is before Parliament without the inputs from the Teacher Unions. This has resulted in an uneasy calm and agitations among the rank and file of teachers. We wish to appeal to His Excellency to intervene to ensure that we are given the opportunity to make inputs so that upon its eventual passage it will meet the expectations of teachers, the implementers of the Bill.
COMPREHENSIVE SEXUALITY EDUCATION (CSE)
Mr. President, the topical issue of Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) is so sensitive an issue that cannot be left out in this submission. No matter which form it takes to be taught in our schools, the role of the teacher is central. Your Excellency, we appeal to you to use your good office to call for a broader stakeholder consultation on such a sensitive issue.
GNAT LENDS A HELPING HAND
Every year, the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), as part of the celebration of the World Teachers’ Day (WTD), assists fifty (50) Needy school children in the host region with the provision of school attire, school bags, canvas boots, textbooks and stationery to serve as a motivation to go to school.
Just as we did last year, this year also the GNAT is presenting the schools from which the Needy pupils were chosen with packs of Supplementary Readers and Simplified English for schools to be kept in their libraries for the use of the pupils. We do this to help whip up the interest of the pupils in reading which we know, has abated over the years.
This year, the Needy pupils were chosen from: Bobiem D/A Primary and Junior High School, Nsuaem II D/A Primary, Brofoyedu D/A Basic and Anyinase Junior High School, all in the Bosome Freho District of the Ashanti Region.
The other pupils who were chosen from the Bosomtwe District of the Ashanti Region were from: Tetrefu D/A Primary, Aputuogya D/A Primary, Abuontem D/A Primary, Adunku D/A Primary and Apinkra Anglican Primary School.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, in addition to assisting the 50 Needy School children, a school in another deprived area of the host region has been selected by GNAT to be assisted in putting their classroom block which is in a very deplorable state, in shape to promote teaching and learning in the school.
The school chosen to benefit from the Association’s largesse in this regard is, Odoyefe D/A Primary School near Kunsu in the Ahafo Ano South West District of the Ashanti Region.
From its present state of having old and weak boards surrounding and separating one classroom from the other in addition to bare floors, the six-classroom structure is going to witness a major renovation to bring it to the level of a pavilion-type of classroom with standard chalkboards and cemented floors to boost the morale of teachers and pupils alike.
Year by year, the GNAT does this to show our continual commitment to promoting an atmosphere conducive for sound academic work.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, I wish to, on behalf of the Unions in Education, congratulate our hardworking award winners for making us proud. Life is all about grabbing opportunities by the collar and squeezing them out till the very last drop. You have won various awards in recognition of your dedication to duty in spite of the numerous challenges we face in our noble profession.
May your success spur other teachers on to give of their best to enhance quality education delivery in the country.
Before I resume my seat, I would like to humbly ask His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Ghana, to present a school bag to a pupil on our behalf.
PHILIPPA LARSEN (MS.)
(NATIONAL PRESIDENT, GNAT)
ON BEHALF OF THE UNIONS IN EDUCATION
Dated: October 5, 2019