The three-day Africa Forum of Teaching Regulatory Authorities (AFTRA) conference that ended at Manthabiseng Convention Centre in Maseru yesterday has proposed the licensing of teachers like other professions.
The AFTRA conference which also celebrated its 10th anniversary on 14 May, was attended by teachers, and education ministers from Zambia, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland, Mali, Burkina Faso and Kenya who discussed the professionalizing of teaching, improved salaries and sharing of teaching material between members unions.
The executive director (academics) of AFTRA, Professor Steve Nwokeocha of Nigeria said the federation was established after wide consultations from 2006 while he was visiting England and United States of America.
He said he contacted the ministry of Education in South Africa so that his proposal could get more credibility while they were negotiating with other teacher unions on the continent. Nwokeocha said AFTRA had members from 55 countries in the continent whom the body wanted to have the same training so that they could work anywhere in the continent without problems. He said the idea was to have their own ‘Teachers without borders’ as is the case with lawyers and doctors.
Nwokeocha said African countries experienced problems despite various governments offering 20 percent of the budget to education, something that called for a change of approach. He encouraged teaching regulatory bodies to join AFTRA so that they could have a strong voice when approaching governments of respective nations to enact laws that would enhance the profession of teachers.
Prime Minister Tom Thabane, South Africa’s minister of basic education Angie Motshekga and others were honoured with certificates and medals by AFTRA.
“The formation of AFTRA was not easy but it was worth pursuing the idea to establish a federation of the teachers so that they could use their skills anywhere in the continent. For example a teacher from Kenya could be able to teach in Burkina Faso as long as they have been accredited by AFTRA because they would have the same knowledge through the trainings they would have gone through. AFTRA is an intergovernmental organization comprising the national agencies regulating teaching in the 55 African countries,” said Nwokeocha.
He said AFTRA was inaugurated in October, 2010 in Abuja Nigeria by the ministers of education of Nigeria and South Africa and it has grown into a profound continental federation that leads policy development and implementation for the professionalization of teaching in Africa. Nwokeocha added that, AFTRA is a member of the International Forum of Teaching Regulatory Authorities (IFTRA) and International Task Force on Teachers for Education.
“The national laws that established member organizations of AFTRA empower them to register and license teachers, set standards for pre-service and on-going teacher professional development, develop and implement code of ethics and professional standards for teachers and school teachers, and work generally to promote the professional standards status of teachers. AFTRA therefore is working to translate these mandates to continental frameworks, to facilitate exchange of best practices, teacher mobility and quality teaching and learning throughout Africa for the actualization of the Sustainable Development Goal 4, CESA 2016-2025 and the AU Agenda 2063; the Africa we want,” he said.
At the same occasion, Motshekga said the regulatory body for teachers was very important in enabling teachers from the continent to exchange knowledge and ideas for the benefit of learners.
“We are the first to acknowledge that the journey is still long, there are no teaching resources in some instances but our teachers are our main resources. Teachers need to be equipped with knowledge and skills. I want to congratulate AFTRA for making sure that teachers are professionalized. We acknowledge that there is a lot to be done, and education should be inclusive. We must work together to make sure that all protocols are observed,” said Motshekga.
Cameroonian’s Professor Sarah Enow Anyang Agbor said teaching was no longer a career of choice as students opted to do other things but the rate of unemployed had increased in the continent. She urged teachers to make sure that learners love teaching because there was a need of teachers throughout the continent.
“Teaching regulatory bodies should join AFTRA and support Africa teacher intra-mobility within the continent,” said Anyang Agbor.