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FEATURE: Moving Forward Together   
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By Joe Kingsley Eyiah, OCT, Toronto-Canada

“For our part, our government will continue finding fiscally responsible ways to support those things Ontarians value most, like EDUCATION, HEALTH CARE, and JOBS. And my responsibility is to ensure that WE MOVE FORWARD TOGETHER.”- Hon. Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario-Canada (Emphasis my own)

News reaching us from our beloved homeland, Ghana, has it that “graduate teachers in the country, under the umbrella of the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), are up in arms again, ready to lay down their tools from Monday, November 30 as a result of what they claim is a lowering of their conditions of service.” This decision by the august body of professional teachers in Ghana to embark on industrial action was taken at a meeting of the association in Sunyani at the weekend. Unfortunately, the teachers' action comes a week ahead of the first-term examinations of most senior high schools in Ghana.

The leading state-owned newspaper, the Daily Graphic, quoting the President of NAGRAT, Mr Kwame Alorvi, reported that, “the association had given notice of its intended strike to the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service (GES) after several unsuccessful efforts to get issues related to teachers' conditions of service resolved.”

This disturbing news undermines the confidence other stake holders (teachers, parents and students) in Ghana have in the Mills’ administration as far as his early presidential promise to make education a high priority for his government in the country. I refer to a recent statement made by the Premier of Ontario, Hon. Dalton McGuinty in Toronto to the National Ethnic Press Council of Canada that, his government will continue to seek responsible ways to support education, health care and jobs which Ontarians value most. He then remarked, “My responsibility is to ensure that WE MOVE FORWARD TOGETHER”.

Obviously, one of the responsible ways for any government to support EDUCATION and HEALTH CARE in its country/state is to meaningfully engage in fruitful discussions with the stakeholders of such sectors to resolve issues which may hamper mutual understanding and progress in those sectors of national development. According to Dr. Karen Mapp, an American educator who is also the co-author of A New Wave of Evidence: The Impact of School, Family and Community Connections on Student Achievement, “There is a lot of communication between the U.S. Department of Education and researchers about how we can change policy to better support engagement in the area of shared responsibility.”

Also, I can proudly say that the new Director of Education (and the first Black Director) for the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), Dr. Chris Spence, since he took over the administration of the School Board has been openly and frankly engaging teachers and parents under his jurisdiction fruitful discussions to move the TDSB forward to make it the best educational system in Canada. For example, Dr. Spence agreed to a suggestion by the Elementary Teachers of Toronto (ETT) to allow elementary teachers to use their PA Day on November 13, 2009 profitably for their own professional work such as preparing the Provincial Report Card at their own places of choice instead of working that day in school under the noises of their Principals and their Vice Principals as an obligation! No wonder, the President of ETT, Martin Long, on behalf of all ETT members, expressed appreciation to the Director, Chris Spence, for being forward-thinking and open-minded in dealing with the issue, and implementing a solution that expressed the administration's respect for the professionalism of the Board's elementary teachers..

What a good example to emulate!

I appeal to President Mills and the Ghana Education Service to be forward-thinking and open-minded in dealing with the issue of NAGRAT and look for a solution that will respect the professionalism of teachers in Ghana so as to move EDUCATION forward together in our beloved Land of Birth, as it is happening elsewhere!
Source: Eyiah, Joe Kingsley

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