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23.07.2009 Feature Article

Obama's position on the teaching profession

Most parents directly or indirectly discourage their children from entering the teaching profession because it is NOT a lucrative profession.Most parents directly or indirectly discourage their children from entering the teaching profession because it is NOT a lucrative profession.
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Is it likely that Obama's visit to Ghana will inspire the ordinary Ghanaian as well as our politicians and administrators to undertake a serious journey into SELF- EXAMINATION. "An Unexamined Life is Not Worth Living". His address to the Ghanaian Parliament in Accra is a MASTERPIECE. Copies of the address must be made available to the general public. All citizens must make it a point to read it over and over again and meditate on it.

If 50.23% of Ghanaians decide to change their attitude and refuse to give or accept bribes, the problem of corruption will be greatly reduced. Progress will become evident in our society. Social Justice will have a chance to thrive in our society. Pathological Greed, which is now considered as a norm among our Leaders and their close associates will gradually disappear. Tell yourself “Let there be true zero tolerance for corruption in Ghana. Let it begin with ME".

As far as I am concerned Obama is a "MESSIAH". His ability to navigate the complex political system of the United States of America to win the PRESIDENCY is just miraculous.

Nelson Mandela stated in his Famous Book - LONG WALK TO FREEDOM - “I am not a Messiah but an ordinary man, who became a leader because of extraordinary circumstances." Perhaps Obama falls into the same category.

At the moment, no one can deny that whatever Obama says carries a lot of weight. His pronouncements are worth considering seriously.

The main purpose of this article is to draw the attention of all those who are in charge of implementing educational policies in our Motherland Ghana, to the views of Obama on the Teaching Profession.

These views are clearly stated on pages 161- 163 of his #1 National Best Seller - The Audacity Of Hope. I intend to quote a few parts. It is strongly suggested that readers read the original chapter.

1. "…The need for good teachers - deserves emphasis. Recent studies show that the single most important factor in determining a student's achievement isn't the color of his skin or where he comes from, but who the child's teacher is. Unfortunately, too many of our schools depend on inexperienced teachers with little training in the subjects they are teaching. "

2. “The problem isn't that there's no interest in teaching; I constantly meet young people who've graduated from top colleges and have signed up.... for two-year stints in some of the country's public schools. They find the work extraordinarily rewarding; the kids they teach benefit from their creativity and enthusiasm. But by the end of two years, most have changed careers .- a consequence of LOW PAY, a lack of support from the educational bureaucracy ..."

3. "If we're serious about building a twenty-first-century school system, we're going to have to take the TEACHING PROFESSION seriously. This means changing the certification process to allow a chemistry major who wants to teach to avoid expensive additional course work."

4. "It also means paying teachers what they are WORTH. There is no reason why an experienced, highly qualified, and effective teacher shouldn't earn (.??) annually at the peak of his or her career."

5. “...Highly skilled teachers in such critical fields as math and science should be paid even more."

All parents want good schools with excellent teachers for their children. Most parents directly or indirectly discourage their children from entering the teaching profession because it is NOT a lucrative profession.

In the 1950's and 1960's, many of Ghana's Secondary Schools (especially the Assisted Secondary Schools- Achimota, Accra Academy, Adisadel, Mfantsipim, Wesley Girls', St. Augustine's, Holy Child, Prempeh College, Yaa Asantewaa, Opoku Ware, St. Loius' Tamale Secondary , Mawuli , etc. ) had excellent first class dedicated professional teachers.

Unfortunately most of the teachers were EXPATRIATES from Britain, Ireland, India, Pakistan, South Africa, Volunteers from the U. S. (Peace Corps) and Canada (CIDA and CUSO). Many of their Ghanaian counterparts (The Ghanaian Graduate Teachers often left the teaching field to join the Civil Service (Usually the Foreign Service ) after a few years in the classroom.

The main reason the Ghanaian Graduate Teachers left the classroom was the poor conditions of service. The foreign teachers employed by the government received almost twice the salary of their Ghanaian counterparts. They had easier access to Loans to purchase cars. Many were paid car maintenance allowances. They (and all members of the family) were entitled to fully paid Leave to be spent in their homelands. Most of the teachers from India and South Africa of course spent their holidays in London.

Many of the Ghanaian Teachers were going all over the place looking for real or fictitious part time teaching jobs to supplement their meager salaries to help them maintain their worn out second hand or third hand cars.

There is an URGENT need to make the teaching profession (From the Early Childhood level to the Secondary Level) attractive so that well qualified teachers, who are really interested in teaching children will consider staying in the classroom as a lifetime career.

Hopefully, Obama's views on the teaching profession will encourage our legislators to take appropriate steps to make the classroom ATTRACTIVE enough to encourage effective, and truly dedicated teachers to stay in this important field.

God Bless the Teaching Profession in Ghana!!!
Credit: Leo R. Sam (GHP)
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