The Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) must harness the millions of opportunities available to make the teaching profession more exciting, Dr. Mark Armah, a Senior Lecturer at the School of Economics at the University of Cape Coast (UCC) has said.
He said the Association had the potential and was well positioned to develop the landscape of the profession to make it more relevant, attractive, and ultimately integrate the opportunities for members to champion their visions to impact positively on Ghana and beyond.
Dr Armah was giving the keynote address at the opening of the sixth quadrennial and the 53rd delegates conference of the Central Regional branch of the Association, which also coincided with the Union’s 90 years of existence.
It was on the theme; “GNAT at 90, keeping the torch as the Union of choice for teachers in Central Region in the 21st century”.
Dr Armah said the way forward was for the Association to show keen interest in the teaching profession, seek knowledge and factor in teachers’ concerns so that conditions of service were respected by all other professions.
Dr. Armah recommended that the Association focused on raising issues about critical classroom conditions such as availability of resources and staffing for deprived schools including curriculum policy implementation.
He also charged GNAT to encourage members to pursue further studies whilst working, and seek continuous improvement and prepare adequately for their pensions.
Mrs. Philippa Larsen, National President of GNAT, said investing in pension was an essential part of the teacher’s life because their retirement offered them just 60 per cent of what they earned as salaries in their active service.
She charged them to work tirelessly to secure accommodation for themselves before all other assets were considered, adding that it was the most important of all.
Mrs Larsen said at 90 years of glorious existence of the Association, it now has a new focus which would be centered on the improvement of the economic conditions of teachers.
She said this move was way beyond the teachers’ fund, adding that it was an initiative to empower teachers to be economically sound, stable and firm in order to make their life as teachers worthwhile.
Officially opening the conference, on behalf Mrs. Justina Marigold Assan, the Central Regional Minister, Mr. Kingsley Adjei Boahen, Chief Director of the Regional Coordinating Council, was happy that the Union was bridging the gap by creating a bridge between members and its leadership.
He charged teachers to intensify quality teaching and learning which would bring in it trail, rapid socio-economic development to translate into an improved standard of living for the people.
Mrs. Martha Owusu Agyeman, Regional Director of Ghana Education Service (GES), commended leaders of the Association for presenting a unified front and for its advisory role to the Government on educational policy formulation and implementations within 90 years of existence.
She said the role of teachers could not be over emphasized because they were the torch bearers for humankind, transferring knowledge from generation to generation, just to shape and carve characters for a better future.
The Director re-assured teachers of better conditions of service through a more detailed deliberation with the Government and the Ministry of Education