PRESS CONFERENCE ADDRESSED BY MR. ERIC AGBE-CARBONU, THE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF GRADUATE TEACHERS (NAGRAT) ON LICENSING OF TEACHER IN THE GHANA EDUCATION SERVICE Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, we welcome you to our Press Conference this morning. It has been a while since our last Press Conference. This is not occasioned by the absence of issues and concerns that have not been fully addressed and are still of great importance to NAGRAT. Despite that we have not rushed to make a meal out of them like others have done with no inducement. Today however, an issue has come to the fore and everyone is either asking questions or proffering explanation and justification. This issue concerns the licensing of teachers in the Ghana Education Service (GES). We are grateful and extend to you our profound appreciation for your prompt response to our invitation to this Press Conference in spite of the short notice. This Press Conference is intended to cover the following: THE LEGAL BASES FOR LICENSING OF TEACHERS The Policy of licensing teachers stems from the Education Act 2008 (Act 778). Provided for in this Act is the establishment of a National Teaching Council with the function of licensing and registration of teachers among others. It is therefore established that the licensing and registration of teachers have legal backing. Bearing this in mind, the question of whether NAGRAT accepts the Policy of Teacher Licensing and Registration becomes irrelevant since the Association is law-abiding. For the sake of clarity, howeve, let me state that NAGRAT is neither resisting licensing and registration of teachers nor questioning the mandate of the National Teaching Council to do so. The above notwithstanding, we have issues with the procedure for implementation of the Policy and the subsequent repercussions thereof. STAKEHOLDER CONSULTATION Ladies and Gentlemen, the law prescribes that teachers should be registered and licensed but does not prescribe how. Permit me to ask a few seemingly naïve questions. Are teachers going to be registered and licensed through an inspection of their certificates and or work? Will they be registered by oral examinations (interviews)? Will the licensing and registration be preceded by written examinations? What will be the syllabus for such assessment? The law cannot spell out these gray areas together with many other issues worth consideration. The questions above are indicative of the need for broad consultations with all stakeholders before any attempt at implementing the Policy is embarked upon. Regrettably, we in NAGRAT cannot say that we have enjoyed sufficient consultation on the implementation process so as to feel part of it and to assure ourselves that the procedure for implementation will not short-change us. It is true that there have been some sort of consultations, but at such consultative encounters, we have raised concerns that have not been addressed, yet some hyper-active players are all over the media landscapes pontificating the implementation process with timelines. Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, we are the people who will go through the examination in whatever form it may come; we are the people to be licensed or denied license; we are the users of that ‘’Holy’’ license. Should we not get our concerns addressed first? Quality education delivery is team-work so it becomes very surprising when some players arrogate every decision-making and activity in the education industry to themselves with impunity and turn around in mock surprise that we are asking questions. How can anybody think that the mere issuance of a license is enough to bring about effective teaching and learning? Have we forgotten the wise saying that garment alone do not make a monarch? Please, let us make haste slowly. In fact, we are confused as to who is calling the shots in this whole melee. We only wake up to find in the news that the National Teaching Council has decided to do X, Y, Z, within periods of A, B, C. The players or spokespersons for the National Teaching Council are even more problematic. To the best of our knowledge, Dr. Evelyn Oduro is the Executive Secretary of the National Teaching Council. But we have found it all over the place that Dr. Augustine Tawiah has made pronouncements as Executive Secretary of the Council. In the 16th August 2017 edition of the Ghanaian Times, the same Dr. Augustine Tawiah was designated incoming Executive Secretary. What exactly is going on? If we are confused as to who speaks for the Council, how can we ascertain the authenticity of the message spewed out there? The Council should come out clear on the role of Dr. Tawiah. It appears he is in very indecent haste to make pronouncements. PROCEDURE FOR LICENSING The National Teaching Council has developed procedures for licensing and registration of teachers. Going by one procedure, the pre-service teacher begins by writing the licensure exam and is given a provisional license. The teacher uses the provisional license to get posted. After posting, the pre-service teacher completes induction and receives a full license. Following a second procedure given by the same National Teaching Council, the pre-service teacher is issued a provisional license after passing exam from the College of Education without the licensure exam. He/she uses it to get posted and completes induction for a full license to teach. The two procedures are not the same. It appears the Teaching Council itself is confused. The National Teaching Council has been a major contributor to the development of the National Teachers Standards and the National Teacher Education Curriculum Framework. These documents are used in the Colleges of Education for the training of Pre-service Teachers. A Teacher Trainee passes exams at the College of Education based on these documents. The same trainee takes the Licensure examination which is also based on the same National Teachers Standard and National Teacher Education Curriculum Framework. It appears that we would be organizing an exercise of duplication of efforts. What would be wrong with making the licensure exam a paper at the final examination of final year Teacher Trainees at the College of Education? If the National Teaching Council will conduct another exam based on the same syllabus, are we not implying that the Council doubts the integrity of the lecturers at the Universities and Colleges of Education? CONCERNS OF NAGRAT Ladies and Gentlemen, the main requirements for issuance and renewal of licenses are capacity building workshops, in-service training and Continuous Professional Development. NAGRAT is gravely concerned as to how many of these workshops and training activities a teacher will require to have his/her license renewed. Again, there is the question of how much the training workshops will cost and who bears the cost. These questions have been asked by the Teacher Unions and have been left hanging. If the cost associated with the operation of a policy is left unaddressed, how can one expect those who may have to pay for it to embrace the policy? The National Teaching Council will do itself a lot of good if it comes out clear on the cost involved and those responsible for its payment. Another concern of teachers is the relationship between licensing and registration and job security for teachers. The continuous stay of teachers in the classroom depends on their ability to renew their license every now and then. The renewal of the license also depends on passing various tests including ability to stay clear from disciplinary issues. An allegation leveled against a teacher is sufficient to deny him/her renewal of license. Once the license is not renewed, appointment is terminated. We know some of the happening in the Ghana Education Service as far as disciplinary issues are concerned. We will not willingly put our necks under the guillotine. Again, we are concerned over the relationship between the policy and the remunerations of teachers. The conditions pertaining to the issuance of licenses involves cost and Code of Professional Conduct for teachers. We are at a loss as to why those pontificating the policy with such verve are silent on the compensations that should go with it. We call for negotiations of conditions of work along with the implementation of the policy. NAGRAT has concerns over the payment of non-refundable processing fee for the licensure exam. How was that figure arrived at? How can the National Teaching Council veto the payments of such money. We see this as a move to extort monies from poor teachers as budgetary supports for undisclosed intentions. According to the prescription of the National Teaching Council, the license indicates the level of education at which each teacher teaches. This is wrong; in some instances since the holder of a first degree for example should be able to teach from primary through Junior High to Senior High School levels. We find that restriction to teach at a single level cumbersome and unnecessary. CONCLUSION We in NAGRAT strongly advocate more stakeholder consultation on the implementation of the policy. We wish to assure everybody that once the right consultations are made we will do our best to ensure that the implementation of the policy succeeds. Anything short of the above will be met with bull-force resistance. We wish to caution that a rushed programme is certain to be a crushed one. Thank you.