Did Mahama introduce teachers’ licensure exams?

On November 17, 2023, Presidential Staffer, Dennis Edward Aboagye, shared a post on X (formerly Twitter) suggesting that Former President John Mahama had contradicted himself on his stance on the cancellation of the teacher licensure exams. 

The post was a collage of a photo of the former president making the promise of cancelling the teacher licensing exam and a 2016 news story from Graphic Online announcing the commencement of teacher licensing.

The former president and flagbearer of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has been firm on his position on the licensure exams since he began his Building Ghana Tour.

The post by Mr Aboagye suggesting that teacher licensing exams started in 2016 has led to media reports about John Mahama contradicting himself. (See here)

On Monday, November 20, the Daily Guide newspaper carried on its front page a story titled “Mahama Goofs! Over Teaches’ Licensure Exams”. The story sided with Mr Aboagye’s suggestion, adding that Mahama “has landed in a political somersault his previous administration introduced”. The newspaper story was also published online. (See here).

According to the Graphic Online story that Mr Aboagye referenced, the acting Chief Inspector of the National Inspectorate Board (NIB), Dr Augustine Tawiah, announced that from the beginning of the 2016/17 academic year, all newly recruited teachers will have to be licensed before they will be allowed to teach.

The story further read that “Those who are already in the teaching service who are professional teachers will be streamlined, while those who are not professional teachers will be given temporary licences for three years.”

The news story also indicated that a good appraisal report, including punctuality and regularity, effective teaching and serving on committees were other criteria that would qualify a teacher to be licensed in Ghana.

Exams for licence under Mahama?

In 2012, the Pre-tertiary Teacher Professional Development and Management Policy was launched to outline clear standards which will govern the development and management of pre-tertiary teacher education in Ghana.

The policy states that the career structure of a professional teacher will include the following:

  1. “All beginning teachers shall undergo induction and attend required initial INSERT programmes within the first year of their teaching career.
  2. Beginning teachers shall be eligible for Licensed Teacher status after the completion of the induction and require initial INSERT programmes. Licence for Licensed Teachers shall be provided from the NTC [National Teachers Council] upon submission of a certified teaching portfolio which shows evidence of achieving standards expected after undergoing induction and required INSERT programmes.”

For non-professional teachers, the policy states that:

  1. “The NTC shall issue a provisional licence to non-professional teachers.
  2. A non-professional teacher shall initially be required to renew the provisional licence by the end of the second year of service. Renewal of the licence shall be subject to an appraisal by the NTC.
  3. Non-professional teachers are required to obtain the minimum qualification for licensing (i.e. diploma in Basic Education) to be a beginning teacher by a period of time determined by the NTC.”

Subsequently, in 2014, the NTC announced the rollout of a procedure in line with a new Teachers Licensing Policy under the Education Act 2008 (Act 778).

Section 9 (c) of the Education 2008 (Act 778) mandates the National Teaching Council to periodically review professional practice and ethical standards for teachers and teaching.

Section 9 (d) also mandates the National Teaching Council to register teachers after they have satisfied the appropriate conditions for initial licensing and issue the appropriate licence.

In 2016, the Ministry of Education, through the National Teaching Council (NTC), reviewed and modified the framework on career progression to fully operationalize the registration and licensing of teachers.

The Ministry of Education outlined in its 2016 mid-term expenditure framework that the National Teaching Council (NTC) was piloting the procedure for the licensing of teachers in five (5) districts namely; Shai Osu-doku, Upper Manya Krobo, Ajumako-Enyan-Essiam, Kassena-Nankana East, and Savelugu-Nanton.

It was against this backdrop that the licensing of teachers was announced in 2016, as reported by Graphic Online.

Based on these sources, Fact Check Ghana indeed found that the government in 2016 made arrangements to kick start the issuance of licences to graduate teachers.

However, Fact Check Ghana found no evidence to support the claim that teachers were required to sit for an exam to get a licence in 2016.

First teachers’ licensure exams

The first teachers’ licensure examination was conducted in Ghana from September 10, 2018 to September 12, 2018.

The examination was targeted at candidates who completed colleges of education in 2018 or those who studied Education in various universities and colleges and desired to be employed by the Ghana Education Service (GES).

The licensure examination was mentioned in the revised Pre-Tertiary Teacher Professional Development and Management Policy, 2018.

The policy document was put together by the Ministry of Education and the National Teaching Council with support from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

According to the policy document, the introductory phase of the exams was supposed to take place from September 2018 to August 2023.

To further emphasise the idea of writing exams for a licence, the Education Regulatory Bodies Act, 2020 (Act 1023), which is the amended version of the Education Act, 2008 (Act 778), states that teachers must sit for licensure examination.

Specifically, section 60 (b) of the Education Regulatory Bodies Act, 2020 (Act 1023) mandates the National Teaching Council to “conduct examination for the licensing of persons who successfully complete teacher education programmes”. Section 60 (c) of the Act mandates the Council to “issue licences to persons who pass the examination conducted by the Council.”

This is the first time conducting licensure examinations was emphatically mentioned as part of the functions of the National Teaching Council.

In conclusion, while the announcement of licensure of teachers was made in 2016 and the then John Mahama-led government made arrangements to roll it out, there is no evidence to support claims that teachers were required to sit for an exam to get a licence. The writing of exams for teachers’ licence rather began in 2018 under the Akufo-Addo-led government.

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