• The proposal is for the time to be extended from 6 to 8 hours
• GNAT says it will be a sin for such a thing to happen
The General Secretary of the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), Thomas Tanko Musah, has served notice that should there be a decision to increase the contact hours of teachers in the country without their involvement, it could unsettle the sector.
He explained that there is a reason the existing contact hours are pegged at 6 hours for teachers, and any attempt to alter that could be detrimental to both the teachers and overall, the students.
Thomas Tanko Musah made this known when he exclusively spoke with GhanaWeb.
He explained the differences between what a contact hour is, and what the overall working hours for teachers are, as well as why they must not be changed.
“We have contact hours and we have working hours. The contact hours is the period within which the teacher will engage the students and once you are in the classroom, you don’t mark. That is what we call the contact hours and it is six hours – you are with the students for six hours, and you make sure you take care of them, you ensure they are on track, you facilitate the teaching and learning for that period; whatever thing that must be taught within the six hours, you do so.
“So, when the students have closed and they have gone, you are not supposed to go home. You sit down and you are going to mark all the exercises that you’ve given. Now, guess what? Assuming you have 50 students in the class, it means that you’ll 50 exercises book for mathematics, you’ll have 50 exercise books for English, you’ll have 50 exercise books for science, granted that each of the exercise books you are making will take three or four minutes. Multiply that by 50. This is plus the 6 hours already spent. How many minutes is that?” he quizzed.
He also lamented the attempt to have this existing arrangement extended by 2 extra hours, stating that it is senseless a thing to do.
Besides, he added, such a new decision will psychologically affect the students and cause a lot of chaos for both the teaching practice and the impact they are expected to make in the lives of their students.
“The contact hours is six hours. Now, you are extending it. When you tell teachers to close at 3 O’clock, you are telling them this is the period within which you are to engage the students. Psychologically, it doesn’t make sense. The reason it doesn’t make sense is you engage the child for eight hours in the school?
“Ask a psychologist; children have very short span of memory. It gets to a time, they become tired and you are asking one person to hold them for. And so, in our collective agreement, and in our conditions of service, we have agreed that in the determination of contact hours and everything, it will be between the GES and the teacher union,” he explained.
The GNAT boss has therefore charged the Ghana Education Service to, in the interest of peace and progress, to backtrack on that decision, unless perhaps, there is indeed no such plan.
“We’ve seen the letter purporting to have extended the contact hours from 8 am to 3 pm and we are saying that it is a sin, a transgression and iniquity against our collective agreement and the code of conduct. And, we want to presume that the Director-General is not aware but if he is aware, this thing should be withdrawn as quickly as possible in order not to disturb the industrial peace,” he said.
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