Open letter to President Akufo-Addo to decline NAGRAT’s demand over Dr Eric Nkansah’s appointment

I have heard and read with surprise and shock, statements calling on President Akufo-Addo to withdraw his appointment of Dr Eric Nkansah as acting Director General of the GES.

NAGRAT claims that “Dr. Nkansah is not a professional teacher and does not qualify to occupy the position.”

NAGRAT further stated: “We are not happy with the appointment because the gentleman who has been appointed is not a teacher. He has no teaching certificate.

He is a banking officer. He has not risen through the teaching ranks. We are calling on the government to quickly rescind this decision.”


Use of inappropriate words

During interviews with leaders of various Teacher Unions, King Ali – President of the Coalition of Concerned Teachers Ghana (CCT-Gh) – described the newly appointed Director General as “goro boy.”

But for the respect and admiration for the esteemed members of the Teacher Unions, I would have labeled King Ali’s comment as a joke and laughable.

I would however want to believe that the views expressed by some of the Union Leaders are their personal views, and do not necessarily represent the views of the entire members of the Unions.

I believe that public appointment should be based purely on merit and devoid of age discrimination, I wish to state categorically that King Ali’s reference to Dr. Eric Nkansah as “goro boy” is unsavory and unfortunate.

To refer to a Ph.D. holder, lecturer, consultant, and an education policy and administration expert who has served as Technical Adviser to Education Ministers Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh and Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum; and also serving as a Member of the Governing Council of the Chartered Institute of Bankers (CIB) as “goro boy” is amateurish.


Unfounded Claims by NAGRAT Executives

Firstly, Mr. Angel Carbonu, the President of NAGRAT claimed that Dr. Eric Nkansah has “done some small stint of teaching” with Kumasi Technical University.

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 articles to his credit. Prior to this, Dr. Nkansah taught Geography at Kintampo SHS from 2002 to 2005.

Clearly, Dr. Nkansah has gone through the educational/academic mill for the past 10 years, rising through the ranks to become a Senior Lecturer. Within this period, Dr. Nkansah also served as an adjunct lecturer for KNUST; co-founded Career Spring Institute (a leading professional training institute in Kumasi); and engaged in numerous financial and educational training, advisory and consultancy services.

Therefore, for anyone to claim that over 10 years of teaching, research, and academic program development experience at reputable tertiary institutions like KTU and KNUST is a “small stint” is absolutely unfortunate.

If these experiences do not make Dr. Nkansah a “Teacher,” then I do not know what else would qualify him as a “Teacher” in the eyes of Mr. Carbonu or the other Union Executives.

Secondly, Dr. Eric Nkansah worked as a banker with Barclays Bank (now ABSA) prior to joining academia in 2012. Hence, the best one can describe him is a “former banker.” To refer to him currently as “banking officer” is rather disingenuous.

I would have wished NAGRAT and other Union Executives had done thorough background checks on Dr. Nkansah prior to issuing statements.

I also would have wished that the Teacher Unions have evidence of wrongdoing against Dr. Nkansah, such as mismanagement, abuse of public office, or criminal record as grounds for opposing his appointment, rather than an unfounded claim that “he is not a teacher.”


Quality Leadership is about talent and transferrable skills rather than background

Dr. Nkansah may not be a trained Teacher or hold a Professional Teacher Certificate. But is a Ph.D. holder and a Researcher from a reputable academic institution not good enough to qualify one as a teacher?

Is it constitutional or other labor requirements for one to have a “teaching certificate” and “rise through the ranks of the GES” in order to become a Director General?

What message is NAGRAT sending out to the hardworking staff of GES who may not be trained teachers? Does the role of the Director General involve going to the classroom to teach? Isn’t it about quality leadership and bringing the best out of GES staff to deliver the vision of the Government’s quality education?

Serious countries are taking education as a business where highly talented and motivated persons are appointed to head educational establishments irrespective of their age or professional background. One most renowned Vice Chancellor 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 LSE as one of the most reputable universities in the world.

In journalism, what was not said of Komla Dumor of blessed memory, during the early days of his career, because he was not a “trained journalist?” But he went on to become one of the finest journalists to emerge from the continent.

In sports, for example, Jose Mourinho 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 executives are suffering from the typical Ghanaian “I am older than you” syndrome where the appointment of younger persons into positions of authority is viewed with disdain or contempt, as we recently witnessed in the case of the former Commissioner of Customs and the Special Prosecutor.

I wish to express displeasure at the canker of age discrimination in the Ghanaian labor market, especially in the public sector.

There are many examples where the appointments of younger persons into leadership positions in the country were met with resistance.

It is high time we rise against this canker of age discrimination that is killing talents in our public service.


The dawn of a new era at GES

Professor Kwasi Opoku Amankwa has served his term as Director General of GES with an enviable record. He would be remembered as one of the best. I do not know the circumstances of his exit.

I have read that his contract extension was “in contravention of the Human Resource Policy Framework and Manual of the Public Services Commission.”

NAGRAT may not be pleased with the removal or termination of Prof Opoku Amankwa’s appointment. But that should not be a reason for NAGRAT executives to denigrate an ambitious and aspiring young successor with unwholesome words “goro boy?”

Reputable institutions thrive on strong structures rather than individual personalities.

It is time for a new person to lead the Service. If the advisors to the President have seen some qualities in a younger person, and have recommended him for such appointment, and for which the President deems it fit, NAGRAT ought to do the needful by lending support to the appointee to lead the next face of education reform in the country.

It must be noted that whoever is brought on as Director General 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 appointment of Dr. Eric Nkansah as he combines rich academic, teaching, and professional background with strong expertise in education administration, financial management, interpersonal relations, vision, and initiative that would enable him to function effectively as Director General of GES.

I would also humbly call on His Excellency the President to uphold the appointment unless there are serious reasons to the contrary, other than those presented by NAGRAT Executives.

I am of the opinion that if a stakeholder group has concerns with a certain appointment, such concerns ought to be communicated through the rightful 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 critically consider how best they can help the new Director General to succeed in his role and serve the best interest of Ghana Education Service and the nation as a whole.

Finally, I would urge Dr. Eric Nkansah not to be perturbed by the actions of NAGRAT executives, but remain steadfast and focused on delivering his mandate for the betterment of GES and mother Ghana.

We wish him well in his new appointment and pray that the Good Lord would guide him in his role as Director General of the GES.

The writer is an author and writer

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