The Honourable Minister of Education, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh who doubles as Member of Parliament for Manhyia South on Tuesday, 11th August, 2020 presented a Parliamentary Statement on Education and Teacher Reforms on the floor of parliament.
The News Desk of CoEWJ followed proceedings on the floor of parliament and has reported on issues about teacher education.
In his introductory remarks, the Minister remarked that “in December 2016, Ghanaians gave the New Patriotic Party (NPP) led by His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo a four-year mandate to govern this country, following their appreciation of our manifesto pledges and policies as being capable of positioning our country on a better footing for a brighter future. The NPP government quickly set to work, to implement our core electoral promises, in fulfillment of that sacred and solemn covenant with the people. Three and half years on, the achievements speak for itself, and remain a blueprint for the future of this country”.
On Teacher Education, the Minister stated thatfor years, our most treasured learners, particularly those in basic schools (KGs, Primary and JHS), were taught by teachers whose initial teacher training had consistently been a source of worry. The minimum teaching qualification for basic school teachers used to be a Diploma in Basic Education from our Colleges of Education while their counterpart teachers in secondary schools were a Bachelors’s degree from the Universities. Much previous research evidence and government policy documents had suggested a weakness in the quality of teachers produced through the DBE programme. For example, a report by the Department for International Development (DFID) funded project (Transforming Teacher Education and Learning (T-TEL)) in 2015, observed that the Diploma in Basic Education curriculum does not adequately prepare trainees to teach in Ghanaian schools.
He further added that, Mr. Speaker, we deeply appreciate the fact that the early years of a child’s education are extremely significant to their future achievement. Consequently, we have, in our focus on teacher reforms taken the necessary steps to upgrade all our Colleges of Education to university collegesto award a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) degrees, following a review of the teacher education curriculum into the standards-based curriculum. Implementation of the new teacher education curriculum began in October 2018, with each College of Education affiliated to one of five of our public universities. In this regard, Mr. Speaker, I am glad to reiterate that the minimum qualification for teaching at any of our basic schools is now first degree, in addition to other regulatory requirements of the National Teaching Council. Working in close collaboration with, and the support of the T-TEL programme, we aim to upgrade capacity and improve upon the quality of teacher education to position our teachers to be able to respond to our current and future challenges in education.
Speaking on issues relating to teacher licensing, the Minister stated that, Mr. Speaker,the Education Act (Act 778) passed by this house in 2008 led to the setup of the National Teaching Council (NTC) with responsibility for setting professional standards, registering, and licensing teachers. Since 2018, the government has supported the National Teaching Council to successfully put in place the mechanisms to conducting of a rigorous and credible teacher licensure examination, as provided by law under the Education Act 2008 (Act 778). The aim of the teacher licensure regime is primarily to enable qualified teachers to acquire a professional license and prepare them to meet the demands of the National Teaching Standards as well as Global Standards of minimum knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes necessary to deliver effectively in schools. The government believes this will help to improve the image of teaching to be at par with other professions.
“To further deepen our commitment to teachers and their professional growth, the NPP government is introducing a Professional Teacher Allowance of GHS 1,200 per year for professional teachers, and GHS600 per year for non-professional teachers. This will enable teachers to invest in improving and upgrading their skills and keeping abreast with modern trends to assist in improving learning outcomes” the Minister added.
Support for University Teachers Seeking to Upgrade their Qualifications
“Through the GETFund, government is providing support for university teachers who want to upgrade their qualifications. Indeed, a staff audit of technical universities and Colleges of Education revealed several qualification gaps, and staff who fall short of the minimum qualifications required to teach in those institutions have up to two years to update their qualifications and can draw on these resources” the Minister indicated.
Teacher Selection, Retention and Incentives
The Minister in his address also stated that since this government took office in January 2017, we have so far employed a total of 66,357 teaching and non-teaching staff in the pre-tertiary sector as of the end of 2019. Further, financial clearance has been obtained to recruit an additional 27,367 teaching and non-staff, comprising 16,500 newly qualified teachers, 6,500 graduate teachers, 3,232 replacement staff, and 1,135 non-teaching staff. This brings the total to a staggering 93, 724 employed by the end of this year for pre-tertiary. At the tertiary level, we have since 2017 recruited a total of 6,176 staff.
“Mr. Speaker, there was a time in this country when under the three-month pay policy our hard-working teachers were paid only three months’ salary, no matter how long they had worked since being engaged. This barefaced injustice formed part of what became known as the legacy arrears that this government inherited. Today, all newly engaged teachers have had all their arrears paid a few months after commencing employment. Again, so far, this government has cleared over 91% of the legacy arrears we inherited” the Minister stated.
Source: News Desk, Colleges of Education Weekly Journal.