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Govt committed to licensure exam - President affirms at Teacher Prize Day

BY: Shirley Asiedu-Addo
The award winners (from left): Ms Anima Junior, the first runner-up; Mr Asomaning Asante, Overall Best Teacher, and Ms Sandra Osei, second runner-up
The award winners (from left): Ms Anima Junior, the first runner-up; Mr Asomaning Asante, Overall Best Teacher, and Ms Sandra Osei, second runner-up

The government has reiterated its commitment to the teacher licensure examination, saying it is a sure way to enhance standards and elevate the dignity of the teaching profession.

The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, said the licensure examination was a credible means of achieving that and his government remained committed to it.

"If we are to elevate the dignity of the teaching profession, as we must, then it stands to reason that we must guard the gates jealously and ensure that robust standards are met before a person can call himself or herself a teacher and enter the classroom to teach,” he explained.

That, he said, would help teachers acquire skills, knowledge, values and attitudes to meet national and global teaching standards to deliver effectively in schools.

The President said this in a speech read on his behalf at this year's Ghana Teacher Prize Day in Cape Coast yesterday.

Teacher Prize Day

A 39-year-old teacher of the Naylor SDA Basic School, Tema, Mr Eric Asomaning Asante, was adjudged the Best Teacher.

For his prize, he receives a three-bedroom house worth GH¢1.8 million.

The first runner-up, Ms Anima Junior of the Aboabo Number 4 Presbyterian Primary School, will receive a double cabin pick-up, while Ms Sandra Osei of the Akwatia Technical Institute, the second runner-up, also received a Toyota saloon car.

The event

The awards ceremony, scheduled to coincide with this year's World Teachers Day, was on theme: “Teacher leadership in developing crisis education responses”.

Hundreds of teachers and educational workers thronged the New Examination Centre of the University of Cape Coast (UCC), the venue for the programme, to participate in the event.

In spite of the fact that they wore masks, and notwithstanding COVID-19 protocols, the joy on the faces of the award winners, their families and friends could not be hidden when their loved ones won awards.

While many of the award winners and their guests tried hard to make elbow shakes the order of the day, a few people found themselves hugging their loved ones who had won awards.

The policy

President Akufo-Addo noted that it was in line with promoting standards in the teaching profession that the government, through the Ministry of Education and its agencies, was collaborating with the Norwegian Teacher Initiative to develop a comprehensive teacher policy which had, among other things, established the Ghana Teacher Task Force to promote and ensure the attainment of high learning outcomes.

He indicated that the policy critically took into consideration the welfare, professional development and growth, conditions of services and all that was needed to enable teachers to compete with their counterparts from across the world.

The President said it would further influence teachers’ training and growth and ensure improved learning outcomes.

Again, he noted that the Education Act, 2008 (Act 778), which, among others, led to the establishment of the National Teaching Council, which is overseeing enhancing professional standards, had worked to put in place mechanisms, including the teacher licensure examination.

He pledged to work to ensure that the COVID-19 pandemic did not truncate the education or jeopardise the future of children, adding that that had informed the government's decision to allow some students to return to school.

He noted that for the nation to be successful, attention must be paid to teachers.

"It is only a crop of well-trained, self-confident and contented teachers who can deliver the educated and skilled workforce we require to transform our economy," President Akufo-Addo said.

Congrats

He commended teachers for their cooperation which had helped final-year JHS and SHS students to successfully write their final examinations.

"In spite of the genuine concerns of safety, coupled with the doom-mongering trumpeted by some in the political space, the teacher unions cooperated with the Ministry of Education in the discussions and plans, leading to the phased reopening of schools," he said, adding that teachers rose to the occasion and supported the effort.

Teachers deserve better

"Beyond praising our teachers for their valour and dedication and the important role they play in our national life, it is important that this reflects in how we treat them.

"Teaching must no longer be seen as a stop-gap measure or a job of last resort but as a viable choice to enter a well-paid, well-respected profession with long-term career prospects and good benefits,” he said.

President Akufo-Addo commended the sponsors for the support and congratulated the award winners and all teachers on their effort at developing the manpower base of the country.

Teacher well-being

The Minister of Education, Dr Mathew Opoku Prempeh, for his part, said the government had put in place several interventions to improve teachers and would continue to dialogue with teacher unions to achieve gains in teachers’ well-being, including improvement in teacher promotion adjustment and eliminating complaints of bribery and corruption.

He said the ministry and the UCC had agreed to introduce a one-year top-up programme for teachers with diploma certificates.

He said the country had good teachers and the ministry would work to ensure that they received their reward on earth.

He, however, urged teachers to commit themselves to supporting efforts to enhance quality education.

The Education Minister further urged all to continue to stick to the COVID-19 protocols to keep the coronavirus disease out from the country.

The President of the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), Ms Phillipa Larsen, who spoke on behalf of teacher unions, noted that the COVID-19 pandemic had become an opportunity for policy makers to learn from one another and cooperate with key stakeholders to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on educational delivery in the country.

Excitement galore

The ultimate winner, Mr Asante, who has been teaching for 12 years, expressed excitement at the fact that his commitment to duty had paid off.

He told the press later that he had only been doing his bid to support education, and did not know that it would bring such great honour to him.

He advised the younger generation of teachers to work hard, saying their hard work would be rewarded in due course.

Other winners

The Best SHS Teacher award went to Mr Jacob Moisob Gundow of the Zabzugu SHS, while the Best JHS Teacher award went to Mr Joseph Agyenim-Boateng of the Tipokrom M/A Basic School.

The Best Kindergarten Teacher award went to Ms Felicia Shot of the Kpando Kpodzi EP Primary School in the Volta Region.

The St Raphael RC Primary School took the Most HIV Alert School award.

The Best Special Needs School award went to the Aboom Special Needs School in Cape Coast.

In the non-teaching category, the Most Outstanding award went to Ms Linda Boakye.

Mr Michael Asampana Abeembila of the Ghana Education Service (GES), Bongo District Office, was adjudged the first runner-up, while Mr Ebenezer Kumi Asare of the Bekwai Municipal Office of the GES was adjudged the second runner-up.

They received fridges, laptops and flat screen television sets as prizes.