Over the last 14 years, I have watched the Teacher Trainees’ Association of Ghana (TTAG) evolved in many folds.
I have seen TTAG when it was disliked by its own members to a time its adored;
I have seen TTAG powerless, without a voice and instead of being a mouth piece, it was at best an earpiece;
I have seen TTAG very ‘broke’ without resources to even fund very basic administrative expenses and I have seen TTAG with so much money its leaders could not properly manage;
And I have seen TTAG without any clout whatsoever with government and I have seen TTAG having a seat at the table with government and influencing government policy and direction.
Indeed, I can continue to recount the various evolutions I have seen this wonderful union go through over the past years. 25 years in the life of every organization typically looks like this.
I joined TTAG automatically as a trainee in 2006 when I gained admission into Peki College of Education. Within my first year, the only thing I knew about TTAG was that its slogan on campus was ‘we mingle’. Our seniors had absolutely no regard for anything TTAG except for the smart, highly articulate and vibrant TTAG rep at the time, Miss Patience Amli.
My first encounter with the Sector (Regional) leadership of TTAG was the 2006 Volta Sector General Assembly hosted at St Francis College of Education in Hohoe. I met the likes of Paa Quecy Adu, Nelson Kuagbedzi, Alhassan Liga, Yevu Pope, Livingstone PAY, etc. The sheer brilliance, smartness and intelligence coupled with critical thinking skills of the leaders of TTAG was a marvel. So, I asked myself; why on earth was TTAG having all these smart leaders and yet the members seem uninterested in the Association. I asked for the constitution, studied it and realized TTAG had a solid structure that could move mountains. So, I asked again, why is TTAG so powerful yet so powerless, why is it so big yet acting so small? I therefore decided I will definitely join the leadership of TTAG and contribute the best I can to help.
So, in 2007, I got elected as Press and Information Secretary of TTAG Volta. It was a great experience and a learning curve for me. Within my one-year tenure, I was able to take the Association to the public through the media as much as I could. By the end of my tenure there was far more to do than I’d done. I therefore put myself up for election as Sector President. I won and was sworn into office in 2008 at a grand ceremony with then running mate H.E John Dramani Mahama as special Guest of Honour. My vision for the tenure was simple but daunting: to establish credibility and recognition of TTAG by the public and the government; and to promote acceptance of the Association by trainees. I realized if I do this the other way, i.e, seek trainees’ acceptance before building credibility and recognition from the public, I will fail.
So, within my one-year tenure as TTAG Volta President, working closely with my executives, I was very relentless in fighting for the interest of trainees and pushing the voice and face of TTAG into the public domain especially on the corridors of power. For instance, we pushed for improved quality of meals in Colleges. This sounds simple and easy but was a very difficult one at the time. Also, we met with then Vice President John Mahama at the Osu castle to push for the sustenance of the trainee allowance scheme as well as asking for ICT infrastructure in the Colleges, etc. As a consequence of the meeting at the Osu Castle, government, through GIFEC, provided well-resourced ICT labs in all the Colleges of Education in the country.
To foster unity and pride in the Association, we celebrated the first ever TTAG Week Celebration in Ghana. It was a week of many educative, entertaining and social events. The grand durbar which took place at Peki College of Education saw key government functionaries in attendance and sections of trainees from every College in the region. By the end of the week celebration, I did not only see a sense of pride from trainees for the Association, they openly admitted their admiration for the Association and one could tell that our members were now accepting the Association.
It is interesting to note at this time that all the activities organized within my tenure including administrative cost of running the Association were done on an extremely tight budget. I recall asking for money from my Mum to support the TTAG week celebration. At the time, dues per trainee stood at 10 pesewas per month, Ghc1.20 per year, yet, trainees were not ready to willingly pay. It was really a difficult time but it was a worthy cause and my passion outweighed the obstacles. By the time I handed over as President, I was proud of what we did together.
The TTAG today
Observing from a distance, I see a TTAG bigger in terms of resources, influence and voice than in my days. I also see the need for structural adjustments that have to be put in place to reflect and manage the current status of the Association. I have equally seen the unwarranted influence of partisan politics in the activities and even very important decisions in TTAG.
25 years on, a lot of structural reforms are needed to reflect the stature of TTAG.
Where TTAG could go
As a professional leadership consultant and a past leader of TTAG, I see a huge potential in the years to come. I see a TTAG that can become the most vibrant, result-oriented and the most impactful student union in Ghana. I see a TTAG that can take the lead in influencing key national policies in teacher training and basic education. I see a TTAG that can become self-sustaining by embarking on projects that secures its financial survival. I see a TTAG that can promote the personal development of trainees through empowering its members and leaders as well as instituting a scholarship scheme for her needy members. I see a TTAG capable of weaning itself from political interference and becoming an unbiased national voice on key national issues.
To move TTAG to the next level beyond our 25 years of existence, I strongly recommend the following:
- Leadership capacity building for all leaders of TTAG across the country including SRC executives. A more conscious and structured leadership capacity building program by TTAG will not only help the Association to get better, it will also help the individual leaders to get better and credit that to TTAG. This initiative will also help supply the much-needed leaders for Ghana as a whole. TTAG could become the first student union in Ghana with such a policy.
- A national secretariat run by a full time non-elected but appointed General Secretary with few key administrative staff to coordinate the day to day operations of TTAG. This initiative will not only improve coordination of TTAG activities, it will also make annual transitions smoother, ensure organizational memory, improve accountability, monitoring and responsibility.
- A Council of Patrons or at least a National Patron to servs as advisor(s) to TTAG. Every leader needs an advisor, most especially young leaders.
- A finance policy that establishes proper budgeting and spending procedures and systems.
I agree there may be a lot more that could be done but the four recommendations above could be the foundation blocks for a better TTAG tomorrow.
With my professional experience as a John C Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach, Speaker and Consultant, I am willing to offer any assistance in realizing the recommendations above.
Long live TTAG, long live the Colleges of Education in Ghana.
John C Maxwell Certified Leadership Consultant and Speaker
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