I have heard and read with surprise and shock, statements calling on President Akufo-Addo to withdraw his nomination of Dr. Eric Nkansah as Acting Director General of GES.
NAGRAT claims that “Dr. Nkansah is not a professional teacher and is not qualified for the post”.
NAGRAT further stated, “We are not happy with the appointment as the gentleman who has been appointed is not a teacher. He has no teaching certificate.
He is a bank officer. He did not climb the educational ladder. We call on the government to quickly reverse this decision.
Use of inappropriate words
In interviews with leaders of various teachers’ unions, King Ali – Chairman of the Coalition of Concerned Teachers Ghana (CCT-Gh) – described the new chief executive as a “goro boy”.
Without the respect and admiration for the esteemed members of the teachers’ unions, I would have called King Ali’s comment a joke and laughable. However, I would like to believe that the opinions expressed by some of the union leaders are their personal opinions and do not necessarily represent the opinions of the union membership as a whole.
I believe that public appointment should be based solely on merit and without discrimination based on age, I wish to state categorically that King Ali’s reference to Dr Eric Nkansah as a ‘goro boy’ is disreputable and unfortunate.
To refer to a Ph.D. holder, lecturer, consultant and expert in education policy and administration who served as technical adviser to ministers of education, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh and Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum; and also a board member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers (CIB) as “goro boy” is an amateur.
Unsubstantiated allegations by NAGRAT leaders
First of all, Mr. Angel Carbonu, the President of NAGRAT claimed that Dr. Eric Nkansah had “done a little teaching stint” at the Technical University of Kumasi. My checks indicate that Dr. Nkansah has actually been a full-time faculty member at Kumasi Technical University (KTU) since 2012 with at least 8 published academic/research papers to his credit. Prior to this, Dr. Nkansah taught Geography at Kintampo SHS from 2002 to 2005.
Clearly, Dr. Nkansah has been through the educational/academic mill over the past 10 years, working his way up to become a senior lecturer. During this period, Dr. Nkansah also served as an adjunct lecturer for KNUST; co-founded the Career Spring Institute (a leading vocational training institute in Kumasi); and engaged in numerous financial and educational training, consulting and advisory services.
Therefore, for anyone who claims that more than 10 years of experience in teaching, research and development of academic programs in reputable higher education institutions like KTU and KNUST is a “small passage” is absolutely unfortunate. If these experiences don’t make Dr. Nkansah a “teacher”, then I don’t know what else would qualify him as a “teacher” in the eyes of Mr. Carbonu or other union leaders.
Secondly, Dr. Eric Nkansah worked as a banker at Barclays Bank (now ABSA) before joining academia in 2012. Therefore, he can best be described as a “former banker”. To currently call him “bank officer” is rather dishonest.
I wish NAGRAT and other union leaders had done thorough background checks on Dr Nkansah before releasing any statements. I also wish the teachers unions had evidence of wrongdoing against Dr Nkansah such as mismanagement, abuse of public office or criminal record to oppose his appointment, rather than an unsubstantiated claim that “he is not a teacher”.
Quality leadership is about talent and transferable skills rather than background
Dr Nkansah may not be a qualified teacher or hold a professional teaching certificate. But isn’t a PhD holder and a researcher from a reputable academic institution good enough to qualify one as a teacher? Is it a constitutional or other requirement to have a “teaching certificate” and “climb the GES ladder” to become a CEO?
What message does NAGRAT send to hardworking GES staff who may not be qualified teachers? Does the role of the general manager involve going to class to teach? Isn’t it about quality leadership and getting the most out of GES staff to deliver on the government’s vision of quality education?
Serious countries see education as a business where highly talented and motivated people are appointed to lead educational institutions, regardless of their age or professional background. One of the most renowned vice-chancellors of the London School of Economics (LSE) is Howard Davies. He was appointed with a business background. He had no teaching or academic experience. Yet he led the LSE as one of the most highly regarded universities in the world.
In journalism, what has not been said of Komla Dumor of blessed memory, at the start of his career, because he was not a “journalist by training”? But he became one of the best journalists to emerge from the continent.
In sport, for example, José Mourinho has never played football. However, he is one of the most successful football managers in the world.
The canker of age discrimination in Ghana
It seems to us that NAGRAT cadres suffer from the typical Ghanaian “I’m older than you” syndrome where the appointment of younger people to positions of authority is viewed with disdain or contempt, as we saw recently in the case of the former Customs Commissioner and Special Prosecutor.
I wish to express my dissatisfaction with the canker of age discrimination in the Ghanaian labor market, especially in the public sector. There are myriad examples where the appointment of young people to leadership positions in the country has been met with resistance. It is high time to speak out against this canker of age discrimination that kills talent in our public service.
The dawn of a new era at GES
Professor Kwasi Opoku Amankwa has fulfilled his tenure as GES Director General with an enviable record. He will be remembered as one of the best. I don’t know the circumstances of his release. I read that his contract extension was “in violation of the Human Resources Policy Framework and Public Service Commission Handbook”.
NAGRAT may not be satisfied with the revocation or termination of Professor Opoku Amankwa’s appointment. But that shouldn’t be a reason for NAGRAT executives to disparage an ambitious and aspiring young successor with sick words “goro boy?”
Reputable institutions thrive on solid structures rather than individual personalities. It is time for a new person to lead the Service. If the President’s advisers have seen certain qualities in a younger person and have recommended him for such an appointment, and for which the President deems it appropriate, NAGRAT should do what is necessary by lending his support to the person appointed to lead the next face of educational reform in the country.
It should be noted that whoever is appointed CEO cannot succeed without the support and cooperation of all stakeholders. Even Jesus needed the support of his disciples to be able to fulfill his mandate on earth.
In conclusion, I call on all well-meaning citizens to support the nomination of Dr Eric Nkansah as he combines a wealth of academic, educational and professional experience with solid expertise in educational administration, financial management, interpersonal relations, vision and initiative that would enable him to function effectively as Chief Executive Officer of GES.
I would also like to humbly request His Excellency the President to maintain the appointment, unless there are serious reasons to the contrary, other than those presented by the leaders of NAGRAT.
I am of the view that if any group of stakeholders have concerns about a certain appointment, those concerns should be communicated through appropriate channels, including dialogue with the appointing authority behind closed doors, rather than engaging in media wars.
On the contrary, I urge NAGRAT and all stakeholders to think critically about how best to help the new Chief Executive succeed in his role and best serve the interests of Ghana Education Service and the nation in its together.
Finally, I urge Dr. Eric Nkansah not to be disturbed by the actions of NAGRAT leadership but to remain firm and focused on carrying out his mandate for the good of GES and Mother Ghana. We wish him good luck in his new appointment and pray that God will guide him in his role as Managing Director of GES.
The writer is an author and a writer