2016 National Best Teachers and Schools Awards
| Updated Mar 09, 2017 at 7:00pm
NEWS COMMENTARY ON THIS YEAR'S NATIONAL BEST TEACHERS AND SCHOOLS AWARDS
It is a well-known fact that the quality of human capital of any nation depends upon two strands which are inter-related: one is the quality of education it offers. The other is the quality of the facilitators of the learning experience that is teachers and non-teaching staff, in the system. Teachers are crucial and without doubt serve as the key that opens the door to the world of knowledge. In pursuance of the objective of acknowledging and rewarding the country’s hard working teachers, the Ministry of Education has since October 1994, under the leadership of the then Minister Harry Romalus Sawyer, instituted the National Best Teacher Award scheme. The celebration is in the right order as teachers across the country have discharged and continue to discharge their duties even in the face of challenges. Over the years, the awards scheme has gone through different phases to make it better and more attractive.
Now apart from the overall best teacher and best school, 12 categories of teachers and 11 categories of schools are rewarded. One other significant innovation has been the inclusion of foreign volunteers in the teaching field. The theme for 2016 event “Valuing Teachers; Improving their status” cannot be more appropriate. Government has been doing a lot in respect of improving the status of teachers and by extension the quality of education in the country.
Not long ago, government absorbed five private colleges of education. Efforts are also underway for the construction of four new colleges of education to increase enrolment as well as improve on the teacher to pupil ratio in the country. The Ministry with support from the Department of International Development of the United Kingdom, launched the Transforming Teacher Education and Learning (T-TEL) programme in December last year to support the reform and to help improve the quality of teacher training in Ghana. The untrained Teachers Diploma in Basic Education (UTDBE) programme is aimed at improving the quality of teaching and learning by reducing the percentage of untrained teachers, particularly in deprived areas. Under the Ghana Partnership for Education Grant (GPEG), GH¢19.5 million has been spent on subsidizing 6,563 untrained teachers from 75 beneficiary districts to undertake the UTDBE programme. Again, 10,749 core Mathematics teachers and 5,626 non-core subject teachers were trained, in public basic schools, in the 75 deprived districts.
Consistent with government’s commitment to improving quality, the Ministry initiated in-service training of Mathematics and Science teachers in 125 low performing SHSs under the Secondary Education Improvement Programme (SEIP). The focus on the two subjects was to reverse the historical trend of poor performance. The effective operationalization of the newly created National Inspectorate Board has brought about drastic decline in the rate of teacher absenteeism from 27 percent in 2012 to eight percent this year. This is expected to further decline in the 2016/17 academic year to make the ministry’s policy of zero tolerance for teacher absenteeism a reality. Preparing teachers for quality education requires policies and practices which make teaching an attractive profession. This can only happen if the teaching profession is governed by policies that raise the profile and status of teachers to attract the highest caliber of candidates. The demands of education for the 21st Century Ghana, requires a teacher that is adequately motivated and working under conducive conditions to be able to assure quality education. There is no doubt that the awards serve as motivation to teachers but more attention needs to be paid to their welfare, particularly those in rural areas. This is crucial because teachers must be in good spirit in order to rise up to the task by working even harder than before.
On the occasion of this year's National Best Teacher and Best School Awards, the Ministry joins all stakeholders especially parents, students, teacher unions, NGOs in education, educationists, and publishers of educational materials to salute all teachers and non-teaching staff especially award winning teachers and schools.
Long Live teaching and non-teaching staff, long live Ghana.
BY DAN OSMAN MWIN, HEAD OF PUBLIC RELATIONS AT THE MINISTRY OF EDUCATION.