The National Teaching Council (NTC) through the National School Inspectorate Authority (NaSIA) – the regulator of pre-tertiary schools – has informed all pre-tertiary private schools to ensure that from next month their teachers begin processes to acquire their teaching licence. Also, it has notified the private schools that all yet to be recruited teachers should be licenced before they are employed.
Already, acquiring a licence is a prerequisite to becoming a teacher in a public school. Government introduced the teacher licensure examination in 2018, backed by the Education Act of 2008, Act 778, with the first-ever exams taking place in September 2018. The focus was on public school teachers from the onset, but the NTC has alerted NaSIA to include teacher licences in its inspection checklist.
Speaking to the B&FT in an interview, the Executive Director of NaSIA, Dr. Haggar Hilda Ampadu, said her outfit has already put in place mechanisms to check the quality of teachers in public and private schools, and the licensure exams is a great addition.
“By our standards, to have licenced teachers is a requirement and we were waiting on NTC to tell us when we can enforce that. By the letter they gave us to dispatch to all private schools, which we have, they are telling us that the time to enforce is now. This means that when we come to your school and we get your teacher list, we have to see that they are NTC-licenced teachers. That is something we are going to keenly look at,” Dr. Ampadu said.
In accordance with the Education Act of 2008, Act 778, a teacher will write the licensure examination only once in their lifetime, when he or she seeks to enter the classroom. The licensure examination covers general numeracy, literacy and essential professional skills, which are based on the pedagogy learnings in school and based on the National Teaching Standards.
Sample questions can be found on the NTC website, and just as with other professional examinations there are no past questions available. Since its inception in 2018, the licensure has witnessed an average pass rate of 73 to 75 percent, which is good by any standard. A candidate is able to go for as many re-sits as they find necessary.
The licensure examination is open only to people who have a diploma, a first degree or postgraduate qualification in education. Holders of non-education first degrees are therefore required to do at least a Postgraduate Diploma in Education to qualify to write the licensure examination.
Merits of licensure
With the licensure examination, the NTC – like other professional regulatory bodies such as the General Legal Council, Pharmacy Council or Nurses and Midwives Council – gets to decide who is fit to be a teacher, rather than that fitness being presumed just because one has completed a diploma or degree in education.
This way, the NTC has power to suspend or even revoke a licence from a teacher if he or she engages in unacceptable conduct, or otherwise fails to meet the standards expected of a teacher. This in turn weeds out the bad nuts, and maintains integrity and robustness of the profession.