Before we go on to look at whether professional teachers in Ghana should be licensed or not, I would like us to first of all look at what a profession is, and who a professional is.
A profession can be defined as a calling requiring specialized knowledge and often long and intensive academic preparation. In simple term, it is the vocation or job of a person. Having now known what a profession is, let us take a step further to look at who a professional is.
A professional is characterized by conforming to the technical or ethical standards required of a vocation or job. Thus, if a person executes his or her job in accordance with the technical or ethical standards accompanying the said job, then that person can be described as a professional.
Now back to the issue at hand, “Licensing of Professional Teachers in Ghana”. Well, I am of the view that the issue of licensing of professional teachers in Ghana is even long overdue. Let us look at other professions like lawyers, doctors, nurses, midwives, and the list goes on. They all have a form of licensure that prospective people who wish to be part of them after going through training have to undertake and pass before being inducted into such professions or allowed to practice.
Before I make any further submissions on the issue at hand, I will like to explain what a license is at this point before I proceed. A license is a permission granted by competent authority to engage in a business or occupation or in an activity otherwise unlawful. It may require paying a fee or proving a capability.
The definition above here shows how important licenses are. They are issued by an authority and has legal backing and as such not anybody at all can just get up and decide that I’m a nurse, having passed through Nursing Training College. This is exactly what we want to be introduced to the teaching profession in Ghana.
The lack of licensure for teachers has made a lot of people to disregard teaching even as a profession. Most at times, you hear people saying that anybody at all can become a teacher but not a nurse, a doctor, a lawyer, a pharmacist, a biomedical lab technician etc. and when you inquire as to why they are making such statements, they tell you that the other professions undertake special examinations after their course of study to enable them to get licenses to practice but for teachers is a whole different case.
The moment you graduate from the Teacher Training College or university you automatically start practicing. This has made the teaching profession so loose that any graduate from other tertiary institution apart from Teacher Training Colleges or having a degree in Education, run to teaching as their last resort when they cannot find a job in their respective fields of study.
But I have never heard someone with either a diploma or a degree in education venturing into other professions with their qualifications. At this juncture, we may ask ourselves why is it not possible for teachers or people with degrees in education to switch to other professions? The answer is simply because, before you can practice as a nurse or a doctor, you will have to pass a licensure exam in order to acquire a license apart from the degree you already have in that field of study. There are so many benefits that professional teachers stand to gain when they are licensed.
First and foremost, licensing of professional teachers would ensure that more prestige is accorded to teaching as a profession. This is because, to become a teacher, one will have to take and pass a special exam which will lead to the issuance of license just like doctors and nurses.
Secondly, the restricted entry in the profession, provided by licensure would ensure that only qualified personnel will be in our classrooms to impart knowledge to our younger generation. This will go a long way to ensure that unqualified persons are eliminated from the teaching profession.
Also, the licensing of professional teachers will go a long way to ensure that teachers upgrade themselves while in the field of practice to ensure that they are up to date in a fast-changing and technological world.
Furthermore, the licensing of professional teachers will ensure controlling of the supply of teachers which can lead to a demand for their services and hence, gain high rewards unlike what is currently going on within the profession.
Again, licensing of professional teachers will ensure that only members are qualified to provide the particular services and thus members can prosecute unqualified individuals performing services which are defined as a legal monopoly of the profession just like doctors and nurses.
Last but not the least is that through licensing of professional teachers, members will be able to determine its own standard of education and training making teaching to be more professional. Thus as the profession gains more income, power, and prestige, it can demand high caliber students just like other professions like doctors, engineers, lawyers, etc.
From the above submissions, it is now clear that it will be in the interest of professional teachers if they are given a license to practice so that they can also rip the dividends of their toil and sweat.
I conclude by saying that until professional teachers in Ghana are licensed, teaching will only remain a profession in name and receive lower rewards than other occupational groups that have adopted licensure as a way to ensure that they are fully professionalized.