Indeed, the fate of JHS diploma teachers hangs in the balance and their quest to access university education and upgrade themselves may not materialise with the new semester system. But the problem is worrying than you think.
JHS Diploma Teachers Dilemmas
The good news is that the University of Cape Coast has released the application forms of the sandwich programme for the 2021/2022 academic year. This will enable many teachers to study for their degree certificates. This is nothing but bad and bitter news for JHS diploma teachers.
Why should such news be bad and bitter to teachers? On its website, the University of Cape Coast shows that the first semester of the programme begins on 12 July 2021. This is no problem in itself, and it is not a piece of bad news.
What then is the problem and the bad news?
Most teachers in the basic schools are trained in the colleges of education and are awarded the Diploma in Basic Education. These teachers in the basic schools, in order to keep developing and enhancing their professional skills and knowledge, seek study leave with pay to go to the university to study a course relevant to the Ghana Education Service and get awarded with a degree certificate. Some others enrol in distance or sandwich programmes to gain a degree certificate.
Recently, the degree in basic education programme was introduced and is being run in the colleges of education.
This means each teacher from the colleges of education will now be awarded a Degree in Basic Education certificates, and not a diploma.
This recent introduction, though not a problem or bad news in itself, is quaking the heads and hearts of many teachers in the basic schools. This is because they know the diploma certificate they hold will soon become obsolete like the ‘Cert A’.
The first batch of the degree in basic education teachers from colleges of education will complete next year.
This means in a maximum of two years, degree-holding teachers from the colleges of education will flood the basic schools in Ghana.
This increases the tension of diploma-holding teachers. Some teachers have enrolled in the three-semester post-diploma degree programme being run by the Institute of Education, University of Cape Coast.
When the Ghana Education Service reopened schools in January after many months of closing down schools due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the semester system was introduced at the JHS level beginning January 2021.
The first semester runs from January to June and the second semester runs from July to December, creating room for only a single holiday/vacation unlike the previous trimester system/schedule, which had three terms and three holidays/vacations. Now, there is only one holiday/vacation, which is even less than a month.
The problem and the bad news is that the sandwich programmes are scheduled to match the holiday/vacation of the basic schools so that the teachers who enrol in the programmes can get little time to study and take the quizzes and examinations.
Now, there is only one holiday in the entire academic year at the JHS level. So the question of confusion and frustration of the teachers is: How are the JHS diploma teachers going to study for their degree certificate before or on the arrival of the degree teachers from the colleges of education?
Did the Ghana Education Service consider its dear JHS diploma teachers before introducing the semester schedule, or as usual, it does not matter because the teachers are not invaluable and can be clothed with any kind of treatment and should be able to manage it and cater for themselves?
After the JHS teachers have been subjected to the high risk and pity-filled treatment of having to teach amidst the height of the Coronavirus pandemic without any form of incentive, they are now being gagged with the semester schedule thereby thwarting their plans, efforts, and endeavours of professional cum academic development. What is the fault of the JHS teachers?
The study leave with pay is as unreliable as politicians’ promises; almost nonexistent. It is just a fantastic fantasy that leaves many drowned in disappointment, frustration, and trauma.
Many teachers apply for study leave with pay, and less than a few are granted because of the quota system.
Some teachers have had to swim through the oceans of dilemma; to choose between forfeiting their paid admission fees and coming back to the classroom to teach at the detriment of their professional development or leaving the classroom AT THEIR OWN PERIL to avoid their admission fee going waste. Now that the study leaves with pay is mere fiction and not a reality for many teachers, now that there is no holiday that the JHS teachers can enrol in the sandwich programmes, and now that degree teachers from the colleges of education will soon be unleashed into the basic school system, thereby rendering diploma holders valueless and useless, what is the fate of the JHS diploma teachers? What is the fate of the JHS diploma teachers?
Did I hear someone say the teachers should enrol in distance programmes?
Well, that, undoubtedly, is an option to consider. But what happens when the teachers cannot afford that angle due to the several inconveniences birthed by transportation, accommodation, feeding, etc. problems?
It is known that teachers are posted to where their services are needed. It should, therefore, be remembered that the locations of many teachers are very far from the study centres and many of them do not have any homes or any other forms of accommodation in the areas of the study centres.
This means they will have to be renting guest houses or hotels for the programme. This also means they will have to travel far distances every weekend of instructions.
It must not be forgot that the GES will not pardon any teacher for not planning lessons (writing lesson note) or for planning them late because of the distance programme.
And it is known that lessons are planned over the weekend. It will take only headteachers with humanitarian perspectives to spare teachers in such conditions.
The stress involved, at this point, should be envisaged if it is not obvious. So, what is the fate of the JHS diploma teachers?
Did I hear someone also whisper that the teachers will study the sandwich programme online? Is that the plan of the universities or it is just a guess? Assuming without admitting that that is the plan of the universities, what is the network situation for the many teachers in the numerous villages? Even those in the towns and cities experience network challenges. How more the teachers who never see ‘H+’ on their phones and are very lucky and blessed to see ‘E’?. Even with the validation for salaries, some teachers or headteachers have to walk from one village to another or move to particular locations to be able to access the crawling network.
So, how are the teachers going to access internet connectivity for successful online studies? All right, assuming without admitting that internet connectivity is not a problem, what is the effectiveness and success of the currently running online programmes? Or it does not matter?
All right. Still assuming without admitting that everything mentioned above is fine, what time will studies take place? The University of Cape Coast begins the first semester of the 2021/2022 academic year’s sandwich programme on 12 July 2021 and the semester ends on 4 September 2021.
This period, under normal circumstances, should fall within the long holiday after the third term of the basic schools. Unfortunately, the second semester of the new system of the junior high schools begins on 6 July and ends on 7 December 2021. With this clash, how will teachers who are enrolling or who want to enrol in the programme study online when that is the same time they should be in the classrooms, teaching and marking?
Still, assuming without admitting that everything is perfect, has anyone considered the extra cost of the data bundle that is needed for online studies? Or that one is the teachers’ business? What is the fate of the JHS diploma teachers?
It will be a great pleasure and a soothing relief to receive responses and answers from the GES, any other stakeholders, or even teachers themselves because as it stands, gloom is approaching the JHS diploma teachers and all avenues to extricate themselves are already gloomy if not gloomier, and their profession/career is at stake. So they keep asking: What is the fault of teachers? What is the fate of the JHS diploma teachers? What is the fault and the fate of the JHS diploma teachers?