Beyond bias: Need for reform of teacher prize process
Following the revitalisation of the National Teaching Council (NTC), there has been the introduction of a national award system, termed the "Ghana Teacher Prize."
This initiative recognises and rewards outstanding teachers across the country.
Over the years, several commendable teachers have been honoured under various categories with significant prizes, such as housing, vehicles and other valuable assets.
However, while the award system has evolved, there are growing concerns regarding its transparency and inclusivity.
The current nomination process, which requires teachers to be nominated before evaluation for the award, has come under scrutiny.
Observations indicate a disproportionate representation, with urban teachers frequently nominated, while their rural counterparts are often overlooked.
This disparity raises questions about the fairness of the nomination system and whether it inadvertently favours certain demographics over others.
Furthermore, the nomination process has been criticised for its perceived political and biased undertones.
There is a pressing need for clarity on the criteria and motivations behind the selection of nominees.
The expansion of the award categories to include college tutors, administrators and district directors seems to deviate from the original purpose of the prize.
The transformation of what was once a straightforward recognition of teaching excellence into a more complex and prestigious affair has raised eyebrows.
The essence of the award, which should be to celebrate every teacher's potential and contribution, seems to be getting lost in the process.
On Teachers' Day, it is disheartening to note that many teachers feel disconnected from the award system.
The substantial financial investments funnelled into the prize, supported by organisations, such as the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) and the Coalition of Concerned Teachers (CCT) further complicate matters.
The allocation of these funds and the negotiation processes surrounding the awards have called the awards into question with concerns about potential biases and favouritism.
To address these issues, the NTC must reconsider the award system's structure.
A decentralised approach, starting at the district level, could offer a more equitable platform.
Teachers could first be recognised at the district level, then advance to regional competitions and finally to the national stage.
Such a tiered system would enhance competitiveness, reduce potential biases and ensure a more inclusive representation.
In its current state, the award system appears marred by political influences, favouritism and evident discrimination.
The essence of a once-in-a-lifetime prize should be to offer every educator an equal opportunity to be recognised for their dedication and excellence.
It is disconcerting for many competent teachers to feel sidelined, either by not being nominated or by being excluded without clear justification.
The NTC must take proactive measures to restore faith in the award system and ensure it truly celebrates the nation's teachers.
Human Rights Advocate,
PhD Student (UEW, SCMS).