President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Saturday said government would pay special attention to the professional development of teachers as the nation marched ahead on the road to progress.
He said teachers were the key change agents needed for the acceleration of the transformative change programmes of his government, thus his administration would ensure that the Ghanaian teacher became pivotal in the development agenda of the country.
President Akufo-Addo said this at the second session of the 21st congregation of the University of Education Winneba (UEW), at which some 10,587 students graduated from the university at various levels.
The number comprised 6,644 and 3,943 graduands from the Northern and Southern sectors of the University respectively. The total figure is made up of 904 postgraduate, 6,000 bachelor’s degrees and 3,675 diploma awards. Out of the lot, 1,464 have been certified as professional teachers in various fields of expertise.
Touching on the critical importance of teachers of developing the competencies of teachers, the President explained that the economic success of most modern societies was inter-related with the professional role of teachers and education in general.
“Almost all modern, successful societies that have had outstanding results in training and economic development such as Singapore, Finland, Korea and Canada have shown that teacher quality is the single most important determinant of their successes.
“For us also to make a success of our nation, we must pay attention to teachers. It is only a crop of well-trained, self-confident and contented teachers that can deliver the educated and skilled workforce we require to transform our economy,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo said Government intends to restore the teaching profession to the status it once enjoyed, and make it an attractive career choice.
He said teaching should no longer be seen as a stop-gap measure or a job of last resort, but as a viable choice to enter a well-paid, well respected profession with long term career prospects and good benefits.
Accordingly, government, he said, intends to facilitate teacher training nationwide, as well as institute special incentives for them, such as support for teachers to acquire their own homes.
The President said in line with the policy to motivate teachers and reward their hard work in the classroom, government would also support teachers to enroll in Distance Education programmes to boost their capacity.
It is for this reason that government, he said, would from September 2017, re-introduce the teacher training allowance that was revoked by the previous government.
The President said government, as a policy measure, would partner and support the UEW, as well as all the other public Universities in the country, to raise and improving standards to enable them compete with the best on the Continent.
He was hopeful that Ghanaian universities would be ranked amongst the top 10 on the continent after the many interventions being made, saying, “This is not beyond us to achieve, and my government will ensure that universities are equipped with the requisite logistics and guarantee that lecturers are well motivated to achieve this feat.”
President Akufo-Addo further re-echoed the push for research and innovation to be at the heart of education in Ghana, as this would ensure that graduates enter the labour market, well-equipped with skills for good-paying jobs.
For this to happen, the President said Ghana needed to move from being an economy dependent on the export of raw materials to an economy of value-addition, to create the hundreds of thousands of jobs needed by graduates from tertiary, technical, vocational and senior high schools.
“We must process the natural resources we have to enable us reap higher benefits. It is with this aim of transforming our economy that my government is determined to partner the private sector to set up strategic industries to help create jobs for our youth.
“Sixty years after independence, the progress we have made has been slower than it should have been. It is time to take the bold moves that will enable us make rapid progress to transform our economy and the lives of Ghanaians.
A society that aims to transform itself into a modern, productive player in the global market needs an educated workforce; and that means it must get its educational policies right," he said.
Drawing inspiration from the Singaporean success story as a leading economy in the world with most advanced and successful education system, which came about as a result of it’s leaders making education the focus of all development efforts, even with the disadvantage of them not having the kind of resources many other countries had.
He said Ghana, unlike Singapore, was blessed with natural resources and it should be easier to educate the population, “once we summon the courage to make the right decisions.”
“My government has made education one of its topmost priorities. Instead of the revenues from our mineral and oil resources ending up in the hands of a few people, I am of the firm belief that the most equitable and progressive way of using these revenues is to educate and empower our population.”
“We must face and overcome the challenge of banishing illiteracy in our country. We must produce a well-educated, well trained populace, capable of functioning effectively as economic actors in a growth oriented, modernised, industrialised society.
“We must begin demonstrating our common commitment to the education of our children by respecting teachers. We cannot value education for our children and yet disrespect the teachers who teach them. I am committed to ensuring that teachers get better pay, better working conditions, a more secure retirement and the respect of their fellow citizens.
“We must deploy our resources to provide a quality education from quality teachers in a quality educational system,” he said.
The President urged all stakeholders in the recent happenings at UEW to speedily resolve the current challenges that have destabilized the management of the institution, and entreated all lecturers to resume full academic duties and use the university’s processes to resolve any outstanding grievances.