Teacher licensing exam, misplaced priority
I have been following the arguments in the media both for and against the idea of teachers obtaining licence in order to teach or to be recognised as professionals.
More importantly, some of the objectives of the exam stated by the National Teaching Council (NTC) are: “The examination is to ensure that we have quality teachers to teach our children and raise the standard of teaching in Ghana. It will also prepare Ghanaian teachers to be accepted globally.”
The ideas expressed as reasons for organising such an exam are not convincing. In the first place, many of our personalities, including presidents, were all educated in Ghana.
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Does it mean those leaders were taught by bad teachers? Or is the NTC portraying that the crop of current teachers are bad and do not deserve to teach?
A teacher is a teacher no matter where he finds himself. Being university, technical universities, secondary schools or basic schools, so long as one goes to the classroom, the name ‘teacher’ binds us.
On the idea of teachers taking the exam as a measure to make them accepted globally, most Ghanaians are already teaching abroad and our lecturers in most of our universities go on outreach programmes and are accepted globally.
On improving the standard of teaching in Ghana, the mere fact that a teacher holds a licence does not provide the grounds for raising the standard of teaching.
There are drivers or pilots who hold top-class driving licences, yet most drive carelessly and involve in fatal accidents. The situation would not be different from that of teaching. The answer to raising the standard of teaching includes teacher motivation, good remuneration, providing teaching and learning materials and making schools look like schools, not ordinary structures.
The NTC and the Ghana Education Service (GES) should note that not every child is good material for teachers and our educational system should not look like a dumping ground where every child of school-going age must be.
The aggregate some of our students bring to senior high schools is appalling. Some need vocational training. In the end, when the doom is spelt, the teacher takes the blame.
If you attend GES promotion interviews, one of the most important questions is: “Who is a professional teacher”? “Or what makes a teacher a professional”? The answer is that one should pass through a teacher training institution and must be trained as a teacher. Secondly, that teacher must have a certificate at the end of his training. Also, the teacher must belong to one of the teacher unions in Ghana. All these qualifications have been met already by any teacher who enters the classroom to teach. That is why when a teacher fails his final exam, he is not given a registered number but is made to rewrite the exam until he obtains the grade.
I strongly oppose teacher licensing exam. Do authorities want to say to the whole nation that the final examination of colleges of education in Ghana is irrelevant and could not be a basis of making a teacher obtain a licence?
In this sense, we can abandon the final-year exam in colleges of education and stick to teacher licence exam.
Who qualifies? According to the council, the examination is open to all holders of Diploma in Basic Education (DBE), Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) and Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) who wish to be employed by the Ghana Education Service.
Another important factor the NTC should note is that when categorising teachers, we have professionals and non-professionals. If you classify a teacher as a professional and ask him to write exam to obtain a licence that is a fallacy. Teacher licensing exam is not a four or five-year course geared towards professionalism.
Quality of neglect
The worse is what our teachers who write these exam are exposed to. All prospective candidates are to pay GH¢220 to any GCB Bank Ltd branch nationwide. They are to visit the NTC website and follow the directives to register for the exam. A spade is different from a hoe so there is the need to call a spade a spade.
I am of the view that the quality of education we have in Ghana is based on neglect. Our classrooms are dilapidated, there is crowding in classrooms and governments all over the years see quality as quantity. Students rely on textbooks from the open market as a result of governments’ inability to supply teaching and learning materials. Teacher licensing exam is not a panacea to the entire objective this exam hopes to achieve. Identify our priorities as a nation first rather than making teacher licensing exam a priority.
The writer is a Social Commentator, Broadway Online Centre, Somanya