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Ghana: unions sit down with ministries to achieve quality education

A seminar dedicated to strengthening social dialogue brought together over 60 ministry officials and unionists from 13 countries, with curriculum and teacher professionalism in the spotlight.

“Teacher professionalism and curriculum in Africa”, a seminar convened by the African Union Commission, Education International (EI), the Open Society Foundations and hosted by the University of Cape Coast, took place from October 14-16 in Cape Coast, Ghana.

The event focused on the important role of social dialogue in the improvement of teacher development, support mechanisms and curriculum processes at the national level. Participants were invited to analyse how the collaboration between teacher unions and ministries could be improved, and to develop a set of recommendations on how to support teacher and curriculum development in sub-Saharan Africa. Specific country and partner commitments were adopted for follow-up, implementation and reporting in a next seminar. The areas where countries would need support to carry out their commitments were identified.

Professor Yusuf Sayed from the University of Sussex offered a keynote presentation that highlighted how the responsibility for sound education systems had to be carried jointly by social dialogue partners – the blame for the performance of a system cannot be put on teachers. He explained the importance of motivation and professional development when it comes to teachers, and the elements that make for an effective national curriculum. Sayed made the case for an integrated professional development model and presented case studies from 10 different African countries.

The seminar also included a very practical experience: school visits allowed for observations and discussion of questions around the themes presented by speakers during the seminar. Participants could develop their positions and experience through a hands-on approach and a direct interaction with school environments, teachers and curricula. Questions such as how the lessons connected to the curriculum framework in Ghana, and how initial teacher education was affecting the professional lives of teachers were at the core of the talks.