Concerning statement from minister vs. Lack of support for teachers

By Stephen Nyame
Opinion Concerning statement from minister vs. Lack of support for teachers

I am expressing my concern over the recent United Nations statement made by Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum, Minister of Education. In his statement, he criticized teachers for "taming" students to simply write down what they are told instead of fostering critical thinking skills. However, the policies and lack of support from the Ministry of Education are partly responsible for perpetuating this very issue.

The Minister stated: "We have tamed the children. We just want them to write down what we tell them and that on the day of exams, they should put down what we have told them and say that they are the best student the country has ever known." While calling for students to develop critical thinking abilities is laudable, his office’s actions directly contradict this goal regarding supporting teachers.

Additionally, we must recognize that teachers are themselves a product of the educational system they went through as students. The instructional approaches used by their teachers during training heavily influence the methods they utilize in their classrooms. If rote learning and regurgitation of facts were the norms in their education, it is unrealistic to expect teachers to suddenly pivot to new pedagogical strategies emphasising critical thinking without proper modelling, training, and resources.

Teachers are not provided adequate resources to facilitate innovative, student-centred teaching methods that promote higher-order thinking skills. The training workshops offered do not model the types of pedagogical approaches teachers are expected to implement in their classrooms. Tragically, there is no professional development allowance or incentive structure to motivate teachers to pursue continuous learning opportunities that could enhance their abilities as facilitators of critical thinking.

In essence, it seems the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service have "tamed" teachers themselves more than teachers have tamed students. They are not provided the necessary supportive environment to deviate from traditional "chalk and talk" rote instructional methods. How can they be expected to nurture students’ critical thinking abilities when they are not set up for success in that regard?

The Minister and Ministry leadership must match their rhetoric with substantive policies and resources that truly enable teachers to foster curious, analytical minds. Until then, statements decrying the very conditions they have fueled come across as disingenuous and demoralizing to the teaching profession.

The citizens and teachers of this nation deserve better than these mixed messages.

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Started: 02-07-2024 | Ends: 31-10-2024