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Speech Delivered by Mrs. Sheila Naah Boamah Chief Executive Officer of Students Loan Trust Fund (SLTF), at the 8th Graduation Ceremony of Peki College of Education, Peki on Saturday, 18th June, 2016

Council Chairman, Chiefs & Traditional Rulers, The Hon MP, Colleague, Members Of Council, Principal, District Director of Education, Principals From Sister Colleges and Friends of Peki College of Education, Members of Staff or Faculty, Parents, Guardians, and Friends, Graduands, Distinguished Invited Guests.

On this significant day, I wish to join parents, families, loved ones, the media and entire academic staff of Peki College of Education to congratulate the graduands for their achievement today. I am extremely humbled to be delivering this keynote speech on behalf of Dr. Tawiah, the Executive Director of the National Teaching Council of Ghana. Dr. Tawiah would have loved to be here, however, I am happy to be representing him.

Council Chairman, permit me to start with a quote on teacher education I relate to. It reads, “Education is a condition for development and the teacher is the ultimate definer of its reality”

The theme selected for this 8th Graduation Ceremony, ‘CURRENT TRENDS IN TEACHER EDUCATION IN GHANA is, therefore, an important one. It is important because, the 21st century is a highly sophisticated century with demanding needs. The theme is also important because teacher education lays the foundation for the development of our human resource capital without which social development, social transformation and economic prosperity cannot be achieved, it is for this that I commend the College staff for their choice.

Ladies and gentlemen, through a well-devised and nationally-focused educational campaign, the world has been amazed by the story of Singapore. Singapore impressively rose to become an education power in just over four decades. The world watched, as Singapore evolved from an essentially illiterate nation with virtually no natural resources to a world-class economy with a highly educated society, which is unparalleled by any other educational achievements globally; and a per capita income that now exceeds that of the United States.

Peki College of Education has a Mission to train competent teachers, capable of helping pupils develop their potential to the fullest and make them responsible and useful citizens. In addition, their Vision is to become the Centre of Excellence in the practical training of competent teachers. It is a big relief, therefore, that both Mission and Vision of Peki College of Education depict a strong desire to remain modern in its approach to the way teachers in Peki should be trained, which is what all partners associated with Peki College expect.

In our time, it is not uncommon to hear people say that, teachers teach the way they were taught to become teachers. It will be a disaster to me, if such a notion is valid with our College. It will mean our stock of lecturers from the 70’s or 80’s will train teachers in the 21st century, expected to handle the present and future generations with a method that is over 40 years old. This sounds like attempting to still use a typewriter in a modern office. Teacher education is currently challenged by globalization, and a multitude of cultural and technological influences. These challenges will affect education from all perspectives; the how we teach; what we teach; where we teach; whom we teach; and in some cases whether we will even teach, must respond to these rapid changes.

Ladies and Gentlemen, College leadership must be dynamic to deal with this complex context. Our college leadership should be competitive in a fast-changing and turbulent environment in their strategic choices.

Over the years, many reforms have been injected into teacher training Institutions, including Peki College of Education to make them responsive, practical and relevant as envisaged by the Mission and Vision of our Dear College. Variations in the way teacher education is administered is aimed at changing attitudes and perceptions associated with the common saying that, teachers can only teach the way they were taught.

Council Chairman, Members, Principal, Staff, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen we have witnessed in the recent past the upgrade of teacher training colleges to Tertiary Institutions with their own legislation, we have also witnessed the upgrade of certificate obtained in past events, like today’s from a Certificate ‘A’ in education, to being awarded Diplomas in Basic Education. We are witnessing the continuous improvement of programme for lecturers, Principals and Councils of our college, to make it effective at meeting present needs.

Irrespective of the above, Council Chairman, teachers will remain central to the delivery of quality education in Ghana, the debate on who, how, where and what is best for colleges must continue to engage policy makers and stakeholders. It is clear that teachers will continue to play a crucial role in our national development aspirations and for this reason, as partners in education we cannot afford to ignore discussions on teacher education. Fundamental changes will have to continuously address: how the teaching profession is viewed, treated, and ultimately, supported by all members of society

Many of us present here today have encountered the positive influences of some teachers along the way and therefore, my advice to our graduands is that: as you take the bold step to join the world of work, you must remember that your role is a very special one.

A teacher’s job makes him/her an automatic Leader. You will be expected to care, inspire and nurture the future of many young Ghanaians. Because you belong to a unique profession, Ladies and Gentlemen, you will have a lasting influence on the lives of the people you teach. You must exhibit the highest standards and ideals of the profession.

Your graduation is testimony of the knowledge and skills that has been passed on to you, to participate in the world of work, meaningfully. You will have direct access to pupils whose mindset you will significantly shape. By this, you are placed in a privileged position of trust and respect, and you have a special responsibility in maintaining the trust and respect that parents and, the society at large will accord you.

In conclusion, Ladies and Gentlemen, let me remind you that, your job makes our dear graduands the gatekeepers; the people responsible for strengthening what is important to us as a society; passing of values; and shaping the character of our nation. With every child you teach, you teach to make the future of Ghana possible. I hope you will never lose sight of the fact that you are part of one of the noblest professions in the world.

Congratulations once again to you; and a special Ayeeko to all our First Class graduands; Good luck to you all, on your journey of life.

Thank you.

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