HUMAN RESOURCE development is one of the three pillars on which to combat poverty in Ghana. The Pupil in the classroom is the core target of the human resource base of a country. The role of the Teacher is to develop this human resource base to provide a solid foundation for the country.
Experiences in Countries
Against this backdrop, Japan, for instance, in the 1970s passed a law to Secure Capable Educational Personnel with the aim of improving Teachers' salaries. This law changed and renewed the system of teachers' salaries so as to ensure that the salary a teacher receives is sufficient to encourage outstandingly capable personnel to enter the teaching profession of their own accord and to be ready to respond to the responsibility of a post that demands a high level of professional specialization and administration skill.
This law was passed at a time the labour market in Japan had displayed the tendency for people of outstanding talent to concentrate in the private companies. The effective implementation of this law in Japan improved the traditional image of the Teacher's job; teaching profession became a very popular option among the young people. The country also has mandatory in-service training programmes (i.e. in-service training programmes that are backed by law to be implemented at all cost to improve the quality of the teaching profession).
In Vietnam, 70% of additional basic salary is paid as incentive package for teachers in deprived areas.
In Tanzania, T Sh. 33,200 (USS 40) per teacher is made available for ten days in-service training per teacher per year while in Singapore 100 hours per year training is provided for Teachers, all aimed at developing the human resource base of the countries.
Ghana also uses about 90 percent of the Central Government budget to pay Teachers. The big difference is that this is not able to attract the youth in Ghana to the teaching profession as a first rate employment.
The Fundamental challenge in Ghana
The fundamental challenge in Ghana is that the country is saddled with so many policies such as study leave, untrained teachers, access courses, trainee allowances, distance education and other huge expenditures in the running of the training colleges, to mention but a few, that the Government at times finds it extremely difficult to do any further improvement for the Teacher within the budgetary constraint. The government, for instance, pays more than ¢412 billion on study leave with pay to upgrade Teachers.
More than ¢25billion is spent on Teacher Trainee allowances. These policies have also failed to make the teaching profession a first rate employment.
Differences in approach to Teacher advancement
In countries like Japan, Teacher Training Colleges are part of the Universities academic work and Teacher advancement and upgrading are individual responsibilities but the salary paid when employed as a Teacher encourages outstanding capable personnel to enter the teaching profession on their own accord. The logic here is that if teachers are paid well the youth will seek for their advancement in the Teaching profession as noted in other countries and every cottage with a school in Ghana will have a competent and qualified teacher and the problem of always grappling with untrained teachers will vanish.
The difference is also lack of accountability of personnel in responsible positions, which generates so much inefficiency, waste, underutilization, and marginalisation of available resources. The Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) by now should have put in place at least a Teachers' Cottage, Teachers Hospital and Teachers Bank to improve the image and welfare of Teachers. Here the work of the Trade Unions is not only to demand increases in wages but to show true responsibility, accountability, transparency and credibility and also ensure that their workers provide the optimum services to enhance productivity. The research work to encourage realistic baseline data to enhance effective planning of the teaching personnel is also not encouraged and supported. Taking the unique characteristics of Ghana schools and districts into consideration it will be difficult to say that there is a credible system in place that enables the country to determine the actual number of teachers needed especially in the public basic schools.
In countries that have achieved the desired growth and development, the Teaching profession is respected as work that demands a high level of professional specialization and administration skill and not anybody at all could be a Teacher. Ghana continues to use some of the outmoded policies that had been criticized and failed to deliver even in Ghana, with apparently no lessons learnt and innovations to move the system forward. The Untrained teachers' concept, for instance, started in the 1950s. At that time an Emergency Training College was opened at Saltpond to conduct five courses of six weeks for 298 pupil teachers under cocoa-sheds and later extended to cover the whole country to upgrade about 9,688 pupil teachers. We still have about 21000 untrained Teachers to be upgraded.
Balancing resources to achieve the desired impact is also a major problem in Ghana. Classrooms, Textbooks and Teaching and Learning materials are important but not at the expense of the Teacher in the classroom. After all, Plato and others were taught under trees but made the desired impact because the Teachers were committed.
It needs to be noted also that no individual in the country has the voting right more than the Teacher. What a Teacher tells the pupils is what the pupils tell their parents to influence their voting rights. Toying with the Teacher is therefore toying with the destiny of the country. The plight of the Teacher affects Good Governance, Stability and Democracy. The collective hand of the Ministry, Agencies, the Unions and Civil Societies are needed to be on deck to attract capable personnel in the teaching profession in Ghana to develop the needed human resource base that will accelerate the desired growth and development in the country.
The writer is a financial analyst by profession and currently the Unit Head of the Policy Research, Monitoring and Evaluation of the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports.