Re: 40 'fake' teachers dismissed in Goaso

Sat, 12 Jul 2014 Source: Pacas, Idris

In response to yet another unprofessional (sorry non-professional) conduct by GES, I write this piece. Forty (40) persons, presumably well screened before being recruited as teachers, were once again dismissed from GES by the Goaso Municipal Education Directorate in the Brong-Ahafo Region. The report (@Ghanaweb 07/07/2014) indicates that the fake teachers were recruited three years ago.

Albeit claiming that investigation continues after the dismissal of the said teachers, GES will most likely do nothing again. No one can, however, precisely quantify the ‘damage’ these ‘fake’ teachers must have caused during their 3-year reign. To appreciate GES irresponsibility, we focus on how these persons managed to fake their qualification to enter into the teaching profession. Nearly 6 weeks ago, precisely on 29/05/2014, we were told that 120 ‘fake’ teachers were dismissed from the service at Upper Manya Krobo District in the Eastern Region. The important questions we ask are ‘Who recruits the teachers and what procedure is used to recruit them?’

Common sense informs us that information technology (IT) made it relatively easier to fake results. Thus, whenever any ‘serious’ employer is looking for employees, it institutes stringent measures to ensure that all potential recruits are thoroughly scrutinized leading to outright rejection of anybody with fake results. And the need to be flawlessly strict during recruitment cannot be so important to any dept other than GES especially when teachers are being engaged. In consequence, the public especially parents expect that at most one out of every 1000 teachers to be clever enough to have faked results to outwit the ‘tough’ recruitment procedure of GES.

Plausibly, we may conclude with 99 % confidence that any reportage of the public sector being padded with fake teachers raises more questions about the recruitment procedure and persons in charge of it rather than with the ‘fake’ teachers themselves. Countrymen and women, I inform you that the district and regional directors of GES are those who are systematically recruiting unqualified persons into the teaching service. Earlier, I made this fact known (Govt and GES pretend over fake teachers (@ Ghanaweb 4/06/2014).

Striking the average of the two ‘fake’ teacher incidences thus far reported, we get 80 fake teachers per district. This figure implies that if the govt were to order GES to cross-check all teachers in the 216 districts, the total number of fake teachers would never be less than 17,280! Incredible! To GNAT, Coalition of Concerned Teachers (CCT) and GES, I throw this question: If any service can be loaded with fake persons up to this magnitude, do the members of the said service deserve to be treated as or called professionals?

Therefore, I suggest to GNAT and CCT to focus much of their attention on redefining their membership rather than on fighting for better services because it makes no sense for any govt to commit resources into a service whose membership tests positive to being faked easily. This ill-defined membership is the only reason that I support Nagrat, which remains relatively unblemished.

In evidence, all GNAT executives, the teachers themselves and any other person monitoring teaching in Ghana know well that across all the 216 district capitals, the district and municipal directors have ‘agents’ responsible for recruiting pupil teachers. The amount charged per a to-be pupil teacher ranges from GH¢ 600 in the Upper West to GH ¢ 1400 in the Greater Accra Region. Waste no time investigating this info; it is just common knowledge comparable to everyone knowing that lack of patriotism caused us our early exit from Brazil 2014. Apart from this amount which must be paid upfront, the potential recruit must still pay a fixed amount when his/her arrears come. Thereafter, a fixed percentage of his/her salary goes to the ‘connecting officials’ at GES.

The most surprising or unprofessional aspect of these reports is this statement: the abysmal performance of students in BECE for the last three years prompted the authorities to check the qualification of the teachers. Absolutely sad! Is GES telling us that it has no other method of assessing or appraising teachers other than using pupils’ performance at BECE? And that if there wasn’t any such failures, it (GES) would never have appraised teachers? Logically, ‘fake’ teachers in primary schools where pupils don’t take external exams shall never be identified. God save our pupils then.

What makes this conclusion dangerous is the wholesale attempt to link poor performance of pupils to the presence of unqualified teachers. Again unfortunate! The saying goes that leadership is the cause and everything else is the effect’. It is the actions of GES itself that are rather causing pupils to fail in droves. Two prize examples are here.

First, GES has endorsed that teachers pursuing sandwich programmes (eg, diploma and master’s in education) leave the classroom en masse to the university campuses for nearly the whole term third of every academic year. The need to pursue further education is relevant particularly to teaching but the ill-timing of this programme is causing avoidable loss of contact hours. For example, all teachers doing diploma in education at the University of Education left their schools since 24 May 2014 to the university and will end this semester programme on 1st August 2014. Ask who is teaching their subjects or classes throughout all this 10-week period and your answer is ‘God is in control’. No claim can be made that those remaining teachers at the schools can share the subjects/classes whilst the teachers are way, for we know that even if all the teachers are available, there is still a shortage.

Ask how GES could have prevented this needless lost of contact hours and the response is ‘rescheduling’. GES and the universities are both under the Ministry of Education. Even if the sandwich programme cannot be fixed for the vacation period of the first and second cycle institutions, the lecturers from the universities could be sent to the regional capitals during weekends to lecture the teachers. This approach will prevent the teachers from leaving classrooms to go and stay at the university campuses for nearly a whole term during each academic year.

Several years ago, GNAT could have even constructed large conference halls in all the regional capitals for such purposes instead of deducting teachers’ salaries and using the monies to construct hostels which offer practically no benefit to teachers. It’s not too late; GNAT and Nagrat can still consider such projects.

The second practice of GES which contributes to poor performance of pupils is the non-standardization of textbooks. As it is now, anybody just prints any documents and writes these on them: ‘Based on GES new syllabus and Approved for Sale by GES’. Such ‘polluting textbooks’ are placed on the market for sale. Ask whether GES has ever seen any such ‘infrastandard’ textbook with its name on it and has taken any action and your answer is ‘NO’. After all, Ghana is a free market economy where no standard exists for anybody to follow. This book issue will be the focus of the next write-up.

GES should therefore note that such embarrassing reports only tell the public that it (GES) has no built-in procedure to screen and to recruit only qualified persons and that it has no plan of ever training enough teachers to phase out pupil teaching. In consequence, I am appealing to GNAT to takeover the entire process of screening to-be pupil teachers from the district and municipal directorates. Our failure to take this action now makes us non-professionals for the nth time.

Long live ‘truly’ concerned teachers! Long live Kwame Nkrumah’s Ghana! Idris Pacas: 020 9101533 & iddrisuabdulai12@yahoo.com

Columnist: Pacas, Idris