False! John Mahama did not say he would cancel licensing of teachers

On November 22, 2023, when Vincent Ekow Assafuah, Member of Parliament (MP) for Old Tafo, appeared on TV3‘s The New Day programme, he claimed Former President John Mahama said he would cancel the licensing of teachers should he come to power.

During the discussions, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) MP, who is also the former Public Relations Officer (PRO) at the Ministry of Education (MoE), argued that the teacher licensure regime was introduced during Mr Mahama’s tenure as president and could not understand why he now advocates for its cancellation.

Fact-Check Ghana has verified the MP’s claim and presents the facts in this report.

Claim: “In 2016, it was John Mahama who was the President of Ghana who said new teacher licensing was about starting (sic). Today, just this week, I am hearing His Excellency John Mahama now telling the people of Ghana that he is going to cancel the teacher licensing regime.”

Verdict: Completely False

Explanation: On November 21, 2023, the Former President and flagbearer of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), John Mahama visited the Brong Ahafo Region as part of his Building Ghana Tour. As part of his itinerary, he made a stop at the St Joseph College of Education in Bechem to engage with both staff and students.

During the interaction, the President of the Students Representative Council (SRC), Gabriel Krah, passionately addressed the challenges confronted by teacher trainees after their graduation from the colleges.

The SRC President argued that the teachers’ licensure exam overly focuses on theory, ignoring practical teaching skills. He added that the exam discourages teachers and contributes to unemployment among teachers. He appealed to the former president and flagbearer of the New Democratic Congress (NDC) for the licensure exam to be added to the final exams of trainee teachers.

Responding to the concerns raised, Mr Mahama pledged to cancel the teacher licensure exams should he come to power. He asserted that the teacher licensure examination initiative was redundant and ought not to have been implemented as teachers already undergo similar exams at each stage of their training, making the additional licensure exams unnecessary.

“So, we are not saying teachers should not have a license to teach. They should but it should not be necessary to let them write exams in the first year, write exams in the second year, write exams in the third year write final exams in the fourth year, come out to do national service, and then come and write licensure exams again. That is all we are saying,” Mr Mahama stated.

He continued, “So, it is not a force. We are different political parties, we are saying that if we come, we will remove the licensure exams. If they will maintain it, they should come and say we will maintain licensure exams, that is all. What we will do is that, the licensing process will be part of your qualification and completion of your college of education. The ones who will be required to write the licensure exam are the non-professional teachers who want to join the teaching profession and so if you just did a first degree and you want to become a teacher but you did not attend the college of education where you are thought pedagogy then we require that you write a licensure exam to be licensed to be a teacher. And as a teacher, you will be required to participate in professional orientation, assessment, and all that. If it is found out that you are not pulling your weight, your license can be withdrawn. But we are not going to let you write a separate exam after you have finished college of education. That is all we are saying,” The flagbearer said about the teacher licensure examination.

In the last few days, since he began his Building Ghana Tour, the flagbearer of the NDC has made similar claims of maintaining the teacher licensing regime but cancelling the examination for trainee teachers.

Further, Mr Mahama’s position of cancelling the teacher’s licensure exam is not new. In the NDC’s 2020 manifesto, he promised to eliminate the exams, asserting that it prevents numerous qualified teachers from securing government employment opportunities.

“The next NDC Government will: abolish the mandatory national service and teacher licensure examinations for graduates of the Colleges of Education, (sic) restore automatic employment of newly trained teachers.”

Since Friday, November 17, 2023, there has been a wave of media commentary suggesting that Former President John Mahama has contradicted himself regarding the cancellation of the teacher licensure.

Several news articles on various websites have claimed that the teacher licensure exam was instituted during the tenure of the former president, labelling him as inconsistent.

However, Fact-Check Ghana’s thorough verification found no evidence to support claims that teachers’ licensure exam was put in place during the tenure of the erstwhile John Mahama government even though the idea of licensing teachers was announced in 2016. Rather, the team found that the teachers’ licensure exam began in 2018 under the incumbent NPP government.

Based on the above explanations, it is clear that Mr Vincent Ekow Assafuah’s claim that former president John Mahama has said that he would cancel the teacher licensure regime is completely false.

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