It has been in the news that the National Teachers Council (NTC) of the Ministry of Education has decided to give teachers licenses. The license will be given to teachers after they pass an examination. The purpose of the said license cum examination according to the NTC is to enforce discipline and eliminate non-performing teachers from the system.
The effects of the implementation of the license appear to be as follows: (a) Students presently in teacher training as well as others who intend to teach will have to sit for the licensing exams before they can be recognized as teachers. (b) “Recognized as teachers” is an appropriate term because no teacher will be able to teach in any school in Ghana without the license. (c) Teachers who are already in the system must have to prove that they have been upgrading themselves, which supposedly will be proven when they sit for the exams. (d) Teachers who are presently teaching will all have to be reregistered. (f) Teachers will have to renew their license in three to five-year intervals, and the “renewal of the license would be based on professional competence and development of teachers.” Teachers whose students fail examinations will not have their license renewed.
The issue of a professional teacher license did not begin today. In fact, last year the Ghana Education Service (GES) wanted to issue licenses but there were suggestions by the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) that it was not its mandate to do so, rather the mandate of the NTC. Now, it appears the noise raised by the public, especially GNAT, is that teachers have to write exams to be given the license. They do not have a problem with the license itself, only a disagreement with the medium through which the licenses will be administered – examination.
It is my opinion that the license in itself is unnecessary. The examination is redundant because teachers are certified before they come out as trained teachers. What is the use of the examination then? The paramount reason given for license, as provided earlier, is “to enforce discipline and eliminate non-performing teachers”. How does an exam stop indiscipline, or promote discipline? How does an examination eliminate non-performing teachers? Does passing an examination automatically mean a teacher is a good one and is the opposite true? Where is the correlation? Besides, isn’t this a backroom method of getting rid of inefficient teachers? If a teacher, or any worker for that matter, is not living up to expectations, he or she should be sacked. That is the best way of taking care of inefficiency.
Some vocations offer license examinations. They are all unnecessary, generally speaking, in my opinion, especially where those in the profession are issued certificates. It is a much more serious problem when the licenses become mandatory and one cannot practice a profession without them. Then it becomes immoral. That is what this license presents when it says that teachers without licenses will not be allowed to teach in the country.
Everyone who practices a trade operates in a market. People – the market – decide how it would reward traders, and teaching is a trade. Parents take their children to schools they believe are good (ideally they should). Parents should know what is good for them rather than a council somewhere deciding it. Whether parents are taking their students to good schools to be taught by good teachers or not is the business of parents and their wards, not the duty of any council. In the end, the work is in the classroom, and any parent who wants his or her child to attend a good school can follow up on the performance of the school. It is morally wrong to prevent individuals from teaching because they do not possess a license. That is an act of aggression, a show of force. It would be immoral if the government implements this policy because a government should not discriminate. Discrimination in the sense that the government will prevent individuals without the license from teaching even in private schools since the license would be for both public and private schools. It could be said that the government may have standards and would want its teachers to follow it, but why should it force it on people not in its employ? The idea is even more repulsive when one asks who or what the government is. It is actually worse when the government follows through this initiative with teachers who teach in public schools. I will repeat; the best way to get rid of non-performing teachers is to sack them. The license would be acceptable to some extent if it is not compulsory.
WRITER: Fritz Gyamfi