Teachers’ concerns about the Pre-Tertiary Education Bill

Welcome to our weekly blog for Teacher Tapp Ghana!

Every Monday we summarize our most surprising and interesting survey findings from the week before. This weekly blog provides an easy way for you to learn about the experiences and opinions of teachers across Ghana.

Please encourage your colleagues to use the Teacher Tapp app to keep engaged with education even when they’re not teaching. Your responses are also a vital data source that will guide decision-making around best policies and approaches for enhancing the welfare of educators/teachers and ensuring robust educational sector management.

Many more teachers will like to be heard and this can be done through Teacher Tapp. Do share this blog with your colleagues

1. Concerns about the Pre-Tertiary Education Bill

With school closures and COVID-19 dominating the headlines, it is easy to forget that there are other important issues going on in education.

Chief among these issues is the Pre-Tertiary Education Bill, which may be passed in to law relatively soon.

The Bill proposes to de-centralise the organisation and management of pre-tertiary education in Ghana. State schools would no longer be the responsibility of GES, but would instead be managed by and held accountable to local groups at the district or regional level.

The concern among many stakeholders is that this will increase inequality in education across Ghana. The quality of a student’s education will depend on the resources and skills of their local leadership. As the quality of this leadership varies wildly across Ghana, the concern is that quality of schooling will also vary wildly across the country. This will drive further educational inequality.

Several major stakeholders, including multiple unions, have already strongly objected to the Bill. According to our surveying, teachers are largely in agreement with these stakeholders. 78% of teachers we surveyed told us that they believe the Bill will have dangerous consequences for education management in Ghana.

67% of teachers also told us that they believe the Bill will have negative consequences for teachers. Adding together this evidence, it is clear the Bill is overwhelmingly unpopular with the teaching profession.

While the Bill is still under review, it is clearly not a priority for the Minisity of Education at present. This will give the Bill’s critics more time to marshall their forces in opposition.

It is also possible that the current school closures in Ghana may change parliament’s attitude towards the maintenance of equality in education. But at this point, we can only wait and see.

2 . What to worry about when schools re-open

GES announced over the weekend that they intend to see schools re-opened for Basic and JHS students on the 5th of May.

This return-to-school date is of course subject to ongoing developments in the management of COVID-19. But it does highlight the important fact that teachers and students will be returning to school surprisingly soon. What are teachers’ concerns about this return?

When we asked you this question, the most common concern was the reduced academic performance of students. Students will have lost out on two month’s worth of learning, inhibiting their ability to achieve in assessments.

1-in-3 teachers were also concerned about their most vulnerable students not returning to school and the increased difficulty in classroom management.

Intriguingly, teachers were not concerned about their own performance. Despite the month out of the classroom, not a single teacher expressed worry that they may have ‘forgotten how to teach’.

It is helpful to know about these concerns now for two reasons. Firstly, heads of school and other school leaders can start planning how they will manage and minimise the impact of these issues that concern teachers. Secondly, we at Teacher Tapp can ensure we are sharing readings with you that can help prepare you for them.

We’ll also be drawing GES’ attention to these concerns to help with planning responses to them from the very top.

3 . Should curriculum resources be sold?

One of the strange things about the current COVID-19 crisis is that it has given responsibility for teaching all students in Ghana to a very small number of teachers. This small group are responsible for designing and recording content for the education television channel and uploading resources to the online portals for JHS and SHS students.

This concentration of planning and teaching may result in a long-term change in Ghana. It could become the case that some schools or groups of teachers are paid to develop curriculum resources, which are then sold directly to schools or bought in bulk by GES.

When we asked you how you feel about school being able to sell these resources, however, the response was largely negative. Just over 1-in-2 teachers told us they do not believe schools should be allowed to do this.

What explains this response? Part of it may be that respondents did not consider that one of the main customers for these resources might be GES who then gives them to state schools free of charge.

It could also be that teachers think the sale of resources is unethical. These teachers may think that the philosophy of educators is one of mutual co-operation and therefore teachers should be sharing these resources without any interest in remuneration.

Either way, the question is important. As the structure of education in Ghana changes, questions about how the commercial and state sector interact will become more and more important. And that’s why we’ll keep asking them!

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