The statement by the Minister of Education, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, that teachers who do not perform should be sacked has evoked the ire of some members of the noble profession with the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) taking on the minister.
The National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) has also brought the minister to the firing line.
We believe that it may be the tone in which the minister made the comment and not the wording of the statement as the mandate to sack teachers rests with the employer- the Ghana Education Service (GES), and not the minister.
Everyone knows that teachers have an onerous task educating people from the crèche to the tertiary level and society holds teachers in high esteem because of the very important role they play in shaping society.
It is widely held that if you can read and write, thank the teacher.
The Daily Graphic finds it unfortunate that GNAT and NAGRAT have gone to town on the minister and accused him of not showing leadership with his comment in an interaction with the heads of senior high schools in Kumasi.
Dr Prempeh said, among other things, that “any school head who superintends over a failure of over 90 per cent cannot be allowed to continue operating without accounting to the Ghana Education Service (GES).”
Would anyone have hailed the minister if he had said anything to the contrary?
The Daily Graphic believes that it would be simplistic to put the failure of candidates at the final examinations, be it the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) or the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), fully at the doorstep of only the teachers.
Indeed, there are many factors that militate against effective teaching and learning apart from the plain incompetencies of some teachers which need addressing if students would excel during examinations and class work.
We are of the view that the teachers must rather point out their challenges to the Education Minister other than punch holes in his comments.
The upbringing of children is not only the sole duty of parents but the community, as well as teachers, and in many instances, teachers wield more influence over the children than even their biological parents, and most children ‘fear’ their teachers more than their parents.
We believe that it is all these that make the teacher’s work very special and demanding, hence the seeming pressure or burden on school heads and teachers to make sure that pupils and students perform creditably in their academic pursuits.
The Daily Graphic expects the teachers to point out to the minister the challenges they have with getting the cooperation of parents, community leaders and even with their employer, the GES, and with their working tools and remuneration, which are key motivating factors in education delivery.
We must say, nonetheless, that the ultimate responsibility lies on the shoulders of the school heads and the teachers and they must pull all the other stakeholders along if they are to continue to make an impact on society as they have always done.
We, however, believe that teachers who skip classes, do not prepare their lesson notes for teaching and generally are not able to drive their students to learn to become better people have no business being in the classroom and we urge the supervisors of the GES to be up and doing to put the teachers on their toes.