In a circular released by the Ghana Education Service (GES) on January 10, 2020 captioned 'GES Promotion Process Review', the promotion format for teachers has been officially reviewed. In the circular, teachers seeking promotions to the ranks of Principal Superintendent, Assistant Director II, Assistant Director I and Deputy Director would take an aptitude test. Staff on the rank of Deputy Director vying for headship position would write an aptitude test and also attend an interview.
The writing of the aptitude test replaces the interview format for staff who seek to be promoted to the above named ranks. As a critic of the interview format, this comes a welcoming news taking into consideration the panicking interview atmosphere associated with interview sessions which usually may not bring out the best from the albeit qualified applicants.
It is worthy of note that in 2019, the yearly process of promoting teachers who were due for various ranks was not completed. These teachers who were due for promotion ( last promoted on/before 2013) submitted their applications in July 2019 but are yet to receive any feedback of a possible schedule for interview/test. In effect, no teacher due for promotion was promoted during the entire 2019 period.
This year, another group of teachers are also due for promotion (teachers last promoted on/before 2014) and one can only wonder how the GES would conduct the aptitude tests for these two different groups. In the scenario where both groups are scheduled to concurrently take the aptitude tests, successful applicants from the first group group (2013) would have to get their promotions backdated to take effect from last year and paid arrears. This is because through no fault of theirs, and reasons best known to the GES, they have been put on hold for a whole year without a schedule for interview or aptitude test leading to their promotion.
In another scenario, if both groups (2013 and 2014) are given different schedules for the conduct of the aptitude tests, there would be enormous pressure on the GES to deal with marking and release results for such large numbers. If it took the Director General about six weeks signing promotion letters of the 2012 interview group, one can imagine the number of years it would take him signing huge number of letters from two groups. In both scenarios, it must be reiterated that successful applicants who were due for promotion last year will have to get their letters backdated and take arrears from last year so as not to delay them for subsequent promotions.
Last year, the GES may have been uncertain as to whether to subject applicants to the usual promotion interviews or to use the new aptitude test. This may have accounted to the delay in the promotion of qualified teachers. However, amidst the uncertainty, the GES should have gone ahead with the routine promotion interview format while thinking through the modalities for the commencement of the aptitude test with new applicants.
The gloomy part of the story is that, no date has been officially announced by the GES for the writing of the aptitude tests for the 2019 and 2020 promotion of teachers, and no study areas have been given out. It is the prayer and hope of teachers that switching from interviewing to testing would not be used as a conduit to trail more prospective candidates, taking into consideration, the huge backlog created.
The GES must expedite the promotion process by giving out timelines and dates for the conduct of the aptitude tests and clearly spell out the areas to be covered by applicants. It is the right of every teacher to get promoted as and when he/she is due and should not be denied by the employer without genuine reasons.
Teacher unions should also be up and doing. They should ask questions about the causes of this undue delays and communicate to their members in these times when the silence of the GES on this matter is so loud.
Long live Ghanaian teachers, long live Ghana.