?Since the mid 16th century when formal education was introduced into the country, the educational system has gone through various patterns and has been assessed in different ways.
From the British system of education through to locally engineered forms of educational systems, several reforms have taken place, including the five, four and three year?s senior secondary currently underway.
The current educational system which seeks to ensure that the country?s long term vision on education is achievable and attainable with a core objective to ensure that all citizens regardless of their gender or social status are functionally literate and productive, could fail if efforts are not made to bring improvement in the educational system.
Challenges faced by the country?s educational system do not only need sustained commitment from stakeholders in the educational sector to bring back the good old human resource base produced under these systems, but a total overhauling of teacher education and teachers is also paramount in achieving the desired result.
In fact, it is appropriate to reward teachers who are self motivating with innovative teaching techniques to ensure that teaching and learning time is judiciously utilized for improved performance.
Scoring zero per cent in the BECE in recent times is a common phenomenon among schools and pupils. These abysmal performances should not be something anybody should be proud of, especially at a time when government is wholly absorbing school fees and providing school uniforms and exercise books all for free.
There is a common saying that ?All professionals may boast; but it is the teacher who taught them all?. If we believe that the teacher?s place is very important as the main driver in the development of the human capital of all countries then there is the need for some overhauling in the teaching field.
It is not common to see parents these days flip through their children?s books not to talk about helping them with their home work and assignments. Instead, they are too busy in their daily activities with the pretext that they are searching for daily bread or making efforts to give their children a better future. For illiterate parents, they put all their hope on the teacher.
Mr. Alfred Ndago, Principal of the Saint John Bosco?s College of Education, Navrongo in a recent speech to teachers during a Teachers’ Day celebration defined a teacher as someone certified by a teacher education institution through training to facilitate teaching and learning in schools.
He referred to the teacher playing multi-dimensional roles that constituted the hub of education and programmes and above all sufficiently trained to effect changes in children.
It is clear therefore that the teacher inspires national identity in the youth because the pupils become a true reflection of what they have been taught and would be in future.
Unfair distribution of teachers, quality of teachers and the attitude of parents leaving everything entirely on the teacher contributes significantly to this canker of poor performance by pupils.
The Worrying Issues:
In schools that may have some reasonable number of teachers, a substantial number of them seeking to upgrade themselves have taken the initiative to pursue educational programmes that make them spend more of their time which is paid for from the scanty resources from government, in pursuing further courses.
The attempt by teachers to upgrade themselves even though laudable, ought to be done through the right processes to enable the various educational institutions to reorganize themselves to replace those teachers who leave for further studies.
More relevant is the fact that when teachers are given study leave mostly with pay, it is incumbent on the Ghana Education Service to ensure that their studies are directly relevant to the courses they thought before going back to school. In situations where teachers succeed to study courses that have no bearing on the curricular of schools they end up shifting to other sectors, thereby leaving the educational sector to wallow in its problems.
There are about 38 teacher training colleges in the country. These colleges are expected to turn out the teacher requirements.
Out of the 38 colleges, 17 of them are science, mathematics and technology designated ones producing just few teachers to take up teaching in the sciences in the various schools.
According to Mr Ndago, his institution which is one of the two teacher training institutions in the Upper East Region, has turned out about 1,692 Diploma in Basic Education teachers since 2007, and said in spite of the achievement the Region had a deficit of 300 teachers.
He said St. John Bosco?s College in Navrongo and Gbewaa Teacher Training College at Pusiga near Bawku, together in a year produce only 500 teachers in the whole Region which is already affecting the teacher requirement in area. He said the country had a 17,000 teacher deficit.
The national Pupil-Teacher Ratio targets 35 pupils to oneteacher at the primary level and 25 pupils to one teacher at the Junior High Level. The above mentioned trends have had implications on teacher representations in schools, with the ratio widening up as one teacher handles between 170-200 pupils.
Mr Paul Apanga, Upper East Regional Director of Education, in a report to the members of the Council of State who undertook a? working visit to thew Region recently, indicated that the pupil- teacher ratio in the Bawku West, Garu, Kassena-Nankana and Telensi-Nabdam was 1:70.
In Bawku, the ratio is 1:50 and in 14 schools in the Bolgatanga West Circuit, the situation is no better. In some schools, only the headteacher is trained and the rest are pupil and community Teaching Assistants (CETA). For instance, at the Aguusi and Kolbia primary schools, the ratio is 1:70. A similar situation exists at the Ahomahoma DA Primary School in the Ashanti Region and the Nkronua DA Primary School in the Central Region where one teacher handles 193 and 192 students respectively.
At the Kotobabi No.2 DA primary school in the Greater Accra Region one teacher is tasked with teaching 96 pupils as reported during a recent meeting.
This is to suggest that in as much as teachers have the capacity to do a better job, they are constrained with the number of pupils each can handle in a classroom. This is because they have to deal with providing and marking class work, assignments and exercises.
This heavy schedule also has implications on contact hours between teacher and pupil.
Beyond the inadequate number of teachers, the problem of teacher deployment across the country abounds.
Many teachers refuse postings to deprived communities. They prefer to be in towns, cities and urban centers, where good school infrastructure and accommodation are available, but which also leads to a disproportionate teacher distribution, with some schools having more teachers than they require, while others are starved of teachers.
Teacher Assistants and non-professionals:
A teacher under the CETA is supposed to assist the professional teacher in the classroom. But this is not the case because the CETA teacher is forced under the circumstances to teach instead.
The logic here is that if a teacher is not trained, it is obvious that the person has not got the requirements to teach. This is the category we find in most schools that are termed ?pupil teachers? and CETAs according to Mr Johnson Atoyine, a retired educationist and Government Appointee at the Bolgatanga Municipal Assembly.
He admonishes that this category has their own challenges too because some could not even pass their own examination and so do not have the requisite pass in English language and mathematics.
In fact leaving unqualified teachers also in the care of school children leaves much to be desired. Being unqualified already means the person needs training and for that matter sending the person into the class room to teach challenges the short duration of the three-year JSS and SSS school system.
As a country there is the need to go beyond the provision of infrastructure; such as furniture, transport, and Capitation grant, school feeding programme, free school uniforms and exercise books.
It is very laudable that about 185 schools under tress have been replaced with concrete structures. It is however worth noting that the provision of proper classrooms is not an end in itself as schools under trees would continue to grow with the emergence of more communities and corresponding growing demands for schools and teachers.
Statistics of each of the nine Districts in the Upper East Region provided by the Regional Director of Education, Mr. Apanga, at a press conference indicated that in the 2010-2011 Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE), Bongo District scored 28 and 49.6 per cent, Kassena-Nankana East 32.7 and 29.1 per cent respectively, while Bawku West had 28 and 25 per cent respectively, Builsa District, 42 and 41 per cent respectively and Kassena-Nankana West 52 and 38.7 per cent respectively.
The rest are Talensi-Nabdam, 27 and 38.9 per cent respectively, Bolgatanga Municipal, 44 and 34 .6 per cent, Bawku Municipal 23.2 and 26.1 per cent and Garu-Tempane 27 and 16.1 per cent.
In the Central Region, statistics indicate that the number of schools obtaining zero per cent was an increase over the 2010 and 2009 results while in 2011, 1,767 candidates representing 5% from 77 schools obtained aggregate zero.
The efforts of most Municipal and district assemblies to sponsor pupil teachers is good; however it should not be seen as a last resort according to Mr Atoyine.
The selection criteria and sponsorship for the youth going for the training should indicate their interest to be in the classroom and, for that matter, to teach.
The retired educationist said many teachers spent lots of time chatting when they are supposed to teach, whilst others use the school period to do their private businesses. He called for all shoulders to be put to the wheel to bring improvements in the educational sector.
Teachers who have gone for study leave without approval should have increased contact hours with students when they return to the classroom, and all teachers should endeavour to prepare adequately before going to the classroom to teach. Some have the tendency of reproducing the same lesson notes over and over again when new pupils move into their class.?? INNOVATION should be the key word.
Parents need to go the extra mile to help their wards to address their subject area challenges.
Above all, the educational sector owes an onerous responsibility to supervise the teachers to ensure that good work is done. An interaction with some Circuit Supervisors gave a gloomy picture of what is happening.
Some go out to supervise twice in a year and this is because resources such as fuel and means of transport are not available. ?I am paying for the bike allotted to me for the same work I am doing, how do I get money to fuel it??, a circuit supervisor questioned.