Following the disturbances that characterised the ongoing 2020 West African Secondary School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE), many well meaning Ghanaians blamed and chastised politicians, the media, parents and even the government for the unfortunate misbehaviour of many students across the country. It is indeed a seeming breakdown of the moral fibre of our society for young students to vandalise properties, engage in contumacious behaviour and attempt to use unprintable words on the first gentleman of Ghana simply for their inability to answer examination questions. I have followed this story keenly with the view to understanding the causes of these events in our senior high schools. No matter the explanation and narration of events that I was told led to these disturbances however, logic still eludes me and I am tempted to guess that there are more to the stories than we have been told.
The sanctions by the Ghana Education Service and the intervention of the president, his excellency Nana Addo Danquah Akufo Addo in mitigating the severity of the mentioned sanctions is commendable. It is difficult to understand however, how students can possibly link the difficulty of examination questions to the president, not to their school, their authorities and the teachers that taught them. They might have possibly been under some false impression which good teachers should have easily identified and corrected. Indeed, its amazing to say the least.
While some teacher unions have called for the protection of teachers and invigilators following the incidence, they (the unions) were generally quiet about the misconduct of some professional teachers who should have known better but threw professionalism and caution to the dogs to encourage, support and embolden students to engage in examination malpractices and hooliganism. It is incumbent on the teacher unions not only to protect the interest of their members but to bring them to order where they deviate significantly from the basic regulations of their profession.
It is becoming a worrying trend that some teachers in some parts of the country feel they have to go extra mile employing unprofessional means to help students pass their individual subjects or examination in general.
I have witnessed this unprofessional conduct of teachers first hand years back when some recalcitrant teachers hid behind examination halls and fed students with answers by dropping the scripts in nearby urinals for students to pick up. This incidence was however well handled and the teachers in question were punished. It was my believe then that the incidence was sporadic and will die its natural death. It is thus surprising to hear reports that in many parts of the country, it has become normal for professional teachers to aid students in their examinations. In fact, the Ghana education Service’s press release dated 7th August, 2020 which spelled out the decision and sanctions meted out to the rioting students actually stated that three teachers have been interdicted for their roles in the aforementioned disturbances across the country.
Teaching and teacher education the world over are one of the most critical areas that is given attention because of the role of teachers in the upbringing of children who are the next generation. In many parts of the world, successful teacher training and education is placed strategically at the centre of their economic development. While this might not be the situation in Ghana, successive governments have tried their best to make teacher training and education a priority at least. The cyclical promises of improved teacher education and emoluments by politicians learns credence to this.
The teacher does not only assist in the impartation of knowledge but contributes significantly to the total development of the child. It is therefore necessary and important to recruit teachers who have not only excellent academic records but attitudes as well. The teacher unlike many other professionals is directly responsible for the quality of the human resource that we churn out in terms of productivity and attitude. A negative and unprofessional teacher is a toxin that will poison the next generation. The vital role played by teachers especially at the basic and secondary level of education makes it necessary for them to be above reproach. It is important thus for stakeholders especially the Ghana education service to take a critical look at the calibre in terms of attitude and behaviour of people we employ as teachers in our schools.
Amankwa Benjamin Kwame
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