Public basic schools need 100 per cent attention to effectively play their role as the foundation to enable the country to have the best basic education that it deserves.
Though it boasts professional teachers, public basic schools lack basic infrastructure, furniture and books, among others, which demotivate teachers.
In an interview with the Most Outstanding Teacher for 2022 (National Best Teacher), Stella Gyimaah Larbi, a teacher of the Adentan Community Junior High School (JHS) in the Greater Accra Region, she said it was an irony that in spite of the quality of teachers in public schools, the performances of pupils from those schools did not reflect that position, blaming the situation on the lack of infrastructure.
“Public basic schools need 100 per cent attention, not 80 or 99 per cent, for the country to have the best basic education that it deserves.
“If you want to look at the teachers, we have the best in the basic schools but why are some of the teachers not giving of their best?
Ms Larbi shared her thoughts when she visited the Editorial Conference of the Daily Graphic last Thursday.
Ms Larbi was crowned the Best Teacher at the National Teachers Day in Tamale on October 7.
For her prize, she received a three-bedroom house worth GH¢300,000, an educational trip to Dubai, promotion on return and a Ghana Education Trust Fund scholarship to study abroad.
The awards have been instituted as part of activities to mark World Teachers Day (WTD), commemorated on October 5, every year.
It has been set aside to celebrate gallant teachers as well as the introduction of the 1966 International Labour Organisation and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (ILO/UNESCO) recommendations concerning the status of the teacher.
On why in spite of all the professional teachers in the public basic schools, pupils’ performance in the Basic Education Certificate Examination remained poor compared to the level obtained by private schools, she noted that the situation was due to the lack of effective supervision both at school and at home.
“Though the SSNIT flats where the Community School is sited is considered a residential area for middle-class workers, the calibre of children that I teach includes learners whose parents are squatters, learners who are squatters and who sell just like me when I was young, before coming to school.
“They don’t know the essence of being in school, and so every child who has passed through my hands for the past decade-plus one, to the glory of God, has excelled, because I don’t just teach you in the classroom and leave you.”
“I will encourage you to learn. And so supervision is a great tool that we can’t account for,” Ms Larbi opined.
She stated that compounding the challenge was the fact that the children did not have and could not afford textbooks, unlike their counterparts in the private schools whose parents were buying them the textbooks they needed.
“How do you expect a child to compete with somebody in a private school who has got all the books?
“So the top three which are impeding performance in public basic schools are – there are no books, supervision and parental care,” she stressed.
The 2022 National Best Teacher said the situation needed the collaborative effort of all stakeholders and urged the government to allow all stakeholders to come on board to support.
“The government has a role to play, the parent has a role to play, as well as the community. So if we allow the community and the parent to come in to support, then you’ll have the best of basic education that we wish to see in the next couple of years,” she explained.
A product of Benkum Senior High School, Ms Larbi gained admission to the teacher training college (the Presbyterian Women’s College of Education) for her training. She was posted to the Nana Akobea Takyiwaa School at Mampong Akuapem in the Eastern after her graduation.
Realising that teaching was all she wanted to do, she pursued a degree course at the University of Ghana after attaining a diploma at the college.
She went back to the University of Ghana for a Master’s in the Teaching of English as a Second Language and proceeded to the University of Education, Winneba, where she earned an MPhil in the Teaching of English as a Second Language.
“Ten years from now this is where I see myself. To be around the table influencing decisions, helping with the foundation,” she said.
Ms Larbi also said she aspired to be the first teacher with a doctoral degree teaching in a basic school.