The National Democratic Congress (NDC), has officially launched its Teachers’ Forum at the Party’s Headquarters in Accra. The inauguration of the Teachers’ Forum within the larger NDC Professionals Forum shed light on crucial issues facing education in Ghana. Emphasizing the need for change, speakers underscored the pivotal role of teachers in shaping the nation’s future.
Addressing the gathering on behalf of former President John Mahama, the 2020 Running-mate to the ticket of the NDC, Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang, emphasized the importance of embracing change, stating that the 24-hour economy is a deliberate, well intended proposal for rebooting the economy and social life of Ghana. She urged all Ghanaians to prioritize this transformative shift.
She explained that while the largely 8 hour economy has served the country well, the current crippling situation of the country requires a paradigm shift as proposed by the Leader of the National Democratic Congress, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama.
Referring to the party’s manifesto, Professor Opoku-Agyemang emphasized the importance of members familiarizing themselves with it, studying it, and working towards its goals. She said members can do so by drawing inspiration from the impactful legacies of the late Prof J.E.A. Mills and the current, experienced Flag bearer of the Party, HE John Mahama.
She asserted that the teaching profession, despite many challenges including unwarranted intimidation, holds immense value in its contribution to human development.
“It is a great profession. We are not among the richest in the country. but we are rich in our skills acquisition and determination of knowledge sharing. I am not saying the other professionals are not knowledgeable, but our initial mandate to educate, induct others, especially the youth into the life flow of society places us in a unique position to impact others.” She said.
She urged the teachers to take active interest in the elections of the country since they are among those much better placed to appreciate the processes leading up to the elections and how best to explain them to others. She encouraged them to play meaningful roles in their branches because decisions and outcomes at that level affects everyone.
Professor Naana Opoku-Agyemang further encouraged teachers to be proud of their profession. Citing the famous phrase “If you can read it, thank a teacher,” she pointed to the doors of opportunity that teaching can open and the critical role the profession plays in human development.
“The best thing that happened to me as a person is being a teacher. The benefits are so many. So we should be proud of ourselves. We hold the key to human development, the most important asset and resource of any country. Education therefore needs very careful attention and handling ” She said.
Addressing the issue of youth unemployment, Professor Opoku-Agyemang explained the NDC’s vision behind retooling technical schools, upgrading polytechnics to technical universities, paying serious attention to the complex area of TVET, establishing the University of Health and Allied Sciences, advancing the needs of the University of Energy and Renewable Resources among others, was to diversity the education system and make it more responsive to national needs. She stressed the importance of these institutions in providing practical and relevant skills for value addition in many areas, while tackling the challenges of youth unemployment in particular.
Discussing educational benchmarks and industry collaboration, she referred to the initiative of the ministry during the tenure of HE John Mahama to organize a three day well patronized conference dubbed “Bridging the Gap between Training and Industry.”The conference brought many stakeholders of education and industry to find ways for adequate preparation of our youth for the world of work. The meetings pointed at ways to improve syllabuses, curricula and methodology.
She drew the attention of the audience to the fact that currently some 1.2 million children are out of school. She went on to request government to share its strategies for dealing with this disturbing situation.
Professor Opoku-Agyemang debunked claims of educational neglect during the NDC’s tenure, citing various initiatives and infrastructure developments undertaken, such as the construction of schools, e-blocks , the stimulation of comprehensive basic education. She reminded the audience that the NDC built Daycares with architectural designs to fit children, built basic schools to reduce learning under trees, expanded 13 technical schools, recruited many teachers in subject areas that posed challenges to young learners while retraining others in more efficient and effective methodologies, among others.
Reflecting on her experience as minister for education, she said she found the committee she created for frequent meetings between the ministry and all unions in education most useful in bringing the representatives of workers in education to participate in the plans of the ministry and importantly, of working out solutions to the issues facing the unions.
Expressing concern about the drop in educational standards, Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang, questioned the divergence of Ghana’s education system from those of other West African countries, particularly noting the disparities in the new WAEC system and the introduction of licensure exams. She said that having an erratic time table, teaching via past questions and intimidation of education staff was a good path to run away from competing with those who traditionally have taken part in the WASSCE.
She thanked all education workers for their roles in raising the standards of the public schools at the basic level and contributing significantly to Ghana scoring the best results in WASSCE for the four years in which HE Mahama was in power.
“We had the confidence to compete with Nigeria, Sierra Leone, The Gambia, Liberia and many private students from francophone countries. We were thankful to set records unmatched since then,” she informed the audience.
She agreed to the cancellation of licensure exams as in current practice. In its stead, she proposed reviewing entry characteristics for trainees and the structure of training. She recommended the creation of workable and relevant methods for quality assurance in pre-tertiary institutions. “ The reliance solely on written examinations does not appear to be the best way for licensing many professions, worse so for freshly graduated teachers”, she stressed.
She urged teachers to be agents of change, emphasizing their role in training the electorate and fostering unity especially; towards election 2024. She explained that the current confusion in education must be removed as a matter of urgency.
Professor Opoku-Agyemang bemoaned the broader issues facing Ghana, which affec each generation and especially women. They include conditions for child delivery, vaccine shortages for the newborn, lack of adequate learning facilities, teaching and learning facilities in basic schools, inadequate washroom facilities, overcrowding and many more. She reminded the audience that women form the bulk of education practitioners at the pre-tertiary levels, and that the lack of clarity of programs and procedures affects their upward mobility the most.
Additionally, she touched on economic challenges, calling attention to the country’s debt and fiscal challenges.
The event not only celebrated the formation of the Teachers’ Forum but also served as a platform to address critical educational issues and challenges within the education sector that demand collective attention and action for positive change in the nation.
In attendance were Ambassador Sam Pee Yalley, Ambassador Mrs. Haizel, Dr. Ekow Spio Garbrah, NDC Teachers, party executives and party faithfuls.