Uploaded by Michael Amoh Asiedu

teaching as profession

Is Teaching a Profession in Ghana?
A profession is an occupation, trade, craft or activity in which one has professed expertise in a
particular area; or a job, especially one requiring a high level of skills or training. According to
Webster’s Dictionary, a profession is defined as “a calling requiring specialized knowledge and
often long and intensive academic preparation”. From the definition, profession is seen as
lifelong in nature and professionals in the field earn living as they practice. A profession is
characterized by some standards. Adentwi (2002) indicated that the most important of all the
traits of a profession among others include, a defined body of knowledge and skills beyond the
grasps of lay men, a lengthy period of special training, control over licensing standards and entry
requirement, autonomy in making decisions about sphere of work and high prestige and
economic standing.
In reality the teaching profession in Ghana as other professions cannot be rated on a different
standard as compared to other professions in the world at large. Therefore for the teaching in
Ghana to be fully described as a profession it must meet all the standards and characteristics that
qualify to become fully fledged profession. In contrast, the teaching profession is far below the
standard as per the characteristics of a profession, and below are some explanations of profession
that attest to the fact that teaching profession in Ghana especially pre-tertiary is not a profession.
Foremost of all, a formal period of preparation and specialized training is required for all
professions. Members of a profession are required to have prolonged specialized knowledge and
training based on the profession. The teaching profession takes exception to that. It has rather a
relatively short period of training as compared to other profession like law, engineering,
medicine etc. The short period of training equip teachers with the requisite competencies and
knowledge in a specific subject area like mathematics, science etc. and skills to deliver such
knowledge to learners. Therefore teaching is the way or mode of delivering the specialized
content matter to learners and does not make it a full profession. In its broadest sense, teaching is
a process that facilitates learning. A typical mention can be made of the law teacher, nurse
teacher, medical teacher etc. They are not describe as professional teachers but rather full
lawyers, nurses and medical doctors who through the medium of teaching passes on the
specialized knowledge to learners in the field.
Secondly, there is a degree of autonomy of decision making accorded to the professionals.
Members of every profession have opportunities to make decisions about important aspects of
their work. This is not so in Ghana as the teaching profession’s autonomy has been severely
suppressed. Teachers’ daily professional decision making in diagnosing educational needs,
prescribing and implementing instructional programs, and evaluating the progress of students are
been decided by government. The subjects, contents, textbooks and other instructional materials
to be used for teaching are taken care of by the state officials and the government.
Thirdly, a profession has control over licensing, professional development, ethical and
performance standards, and professional discipline. As professionals, teachers are governed in
their professional relationships with other members, school boards, students and the general
public by rules of conduct set out in the Association’s Code of Professional Conduct. The code
stipulates minimum standards of professional conduct for teachers. This is not the case in Ghana
as the professional associations like GNAT and NAGRAT have no control over recruitment,
training and certification of its members. The code of ethics set out to ensure high level of
professional conducts among members is flaunted with impunity. Both GNAT and NAGRAT
even lack the disciplinary powers to enforce its code of conducts.
Last but not least, every profession has influence over education standards, recruitment
and requirement entry; however this is not the case of teaching profession in Ghana. For many
professions there is a uniform entry requirements unlike teaching, GNAT and NAGRAT have no
knowledge and control over entry requirements of teachers into the profession. This is because
entry requirements are greatly influenced by governmental needs and policies. Therefore people
of different educational backgrounds are recruited into the service as pupil teachers and nonprofessional teachers.
Some benefits of being a member of a professional body include:
Appendage of designatory letters after one’s name for worldwide recognition
Perceive as someone who may be subjected to disciplinary code in case of misconduct
Ability to work anywhere in the world with qualifications and credentials
Ability to set up one’s own personal practice or consultancy, subject to obtaining a
practising certificate or licence from one’s professional body
One is always in currency as one is constantly updated by one’s Association on current
best practice, research papers and outcomes of experimentation, trials etc. through
journals, newsletters and bulletins.
Members are marketed indirectly when their professional bodies publish members’ list
who are in good standing with it.
In view of the above argument as espoused, one realizes that the teaching profession in
Ghana especially pre-tertiary teaching falls short of the standard required of a profession.
Teachers at the Basic school level, are considered generalists and therefore cannot claim to be
experts in their field as other professionals like legal and medical officers. Teaching must be
recognized as a basic human art more than it is a professional practice like medicine or law.
Teaching must be seen as only a means of professing one’s expertise and not a profession in