A SPEECH BY SETH NRETIA ESSIEN ON THE CHALLENGES FACED BY THE GHANAIN TEACHER, PRESENTEND AT NEW DELHI, INDIA, DURING THE SPECIAL INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE OF THE MIGRANT LABOUR GENERAL WORKERS UNION HELD ON 9-10TH DECEMBER, 2019.
Mr C., International Executives, Representatives of the Union from various country around the globe, all protocols dully observed, ladies and gentlemen, I stand here as a member of the Teaching profession in Ghana and I bring you greetings from my colleagues. I also wish to express my profound gratitude to you for the privilege given me to share the challenges faced by the Ghanaian teachers in their field of work. Before I begin, allow me to give a brief background of the education system of Ghana.
A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF THE GHANA EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM
Mr C., Formal Education has been the backbone of the individual and societal development of every nation. Oduro (2000) commented that education is an engine of development hence nations go all out to invest in it. Access to relevant education equips the individuals with the necessary knowledge, skills, competencies and capabilities to give their optimum contribution towards national growth and development.
With such a keen interest in education and its role in the nation’s development, the share of the Government of Ghana’s budget for education in 2007 was 68 per cent, while the budget for 2008 was 71 per cent according to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (2008, p. 23). In the 1961, Educational Act, for instance, education was made free and compulsory at the basic level. Ghana currently operates the “2-6-3-3-4’ education system structured along three progressive levels comprising basic education, second cycle education and tertiary education. Pupils spend 11 years in basic education comprising 2 years kindergarten (i.e. age 4-5 years), 6 years primary (i.e. age 6 -11 years) and 3 years Junior High School (JHS) (i.e. age 12-15 years).
Mr C., the Education Act 2008 (Ghana) (Act 778) mandates the Ministry of Education to decentralize the management of first and second cycle education to the District level. This is intended to enhance management of this huge sector to improve service delivery. Section 3 of the Act places a high premium on the decentralization of education. In this regard, the Minister is expected to ensure effective decentralization of executive responsibilities for provision and management of basic and second cycle education at the District Assemblies.
CHALLENGES POSED TO THE TEACHER BY PRESENT EDUCATION SYSTEM FRAGMENTED AND OVER LOADED CURRICULUM
First, our education system is fragmented along academic disciplines and levels, with overcrowded curriculum. In advanced countries, education systems are moving towards developing interdisciplinary curriculums and fostering teaching approaches that provide young people opportunities to develop their full potential and enable them to make meaningful contributions to society. Changes in Finland, for example, has seen students spending more time studying topics that cut across the range of traditional subjects (e.g. mathematics), with the view to emphasizing transferable skills that can be applied across different areas of knowledge rather than just pushing children through “exam factories”. The JHS and SHS curriculums are very broad and loaded, such that the timeframe allocated to them are inadequate. With no systematic attempt to harmonize all the different subject-oriented curriculum contexts in Ghana, the Government's approach is to reduce the number of subjects, particularly, at the primary schools. Whilst this is laudable in terms of realigning the thematic areas of students' experiences and outcomes, the absence of a composite National Curriculum has largely occasioned a lack of clarity and focus about the key principles and concepts underpinning the education system in Ghana. This raises important questions about what the underlying values, purposes and principles of the Ghanaian education system are and how these fit into a broader medium to long term National Development framework. More importantly, this overload does not reflect on the teachers’ salaries. The average salary for the Ghanaian teacher who has worked for more than ten years is not more than three thousand (six hundred dollars). Formulators of the curriculum seem to think more about the implementation rather than the implementer. Perhaps, that may be the very reason reforms keep yielding below expectation.
EXEMPTION OF THE TEACHER IN FORMULATING EDUCATIONAL POLICIES
Mr C., it will interest you to know the number of reforms our educational system has undergone, even though we still have not achieved any desired result, not even talking about the numerous policies and programmes we have undertaking as a nation. The deficiency has been the exemption of the very person who matters-the teacher-who can describe the classroom situation better than anyone else. The practice has been that government officials selecting only those who have strong affiliation with the political parties, who for that matter, are not fully aware of the problems the teachers face in the classrooms. Hence, problems are attempted based on what the ‘political teacher’ tells government officials and not what the working teacher experiences. For instance, a true teacher will not play politics and say the classroom is adequately resourced; it has spacious rooms and few learners for effective teaching and learning only to gain some political scores and fill his hungry stomach. A true teacher will remain neutral to politics, speaks his mind, reporting as it is, with general good of the country and the learners in mind. Such is the teacher, government officials will not invite.
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- SETH NRETIA ESSIEN (Author), 2020, A speech on the challenges faced by the ghanain teachers, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/520491