UKAPES caught up with Felix Donkor, an extremely busy and an experienced teacher and presenter. He is currently a Deputy Headteacher in a secondary school in South East London and has previously worked as a Director of Mathematics, VLE lead and staff governor. Felix’s passion is to bring about long lasting change into Ghana’s education system that will enable teachers and their students to maximise their potential and be challenged to develop the dispositions and motivation to lead fulfilling lives.
- What is your current role as an educator and how has it evolved in the past few years?
I am currently a Deputy Head Teacher in an 11 – 19 school in the South East of London, having previously served as an Assistant Head Teacher and before that the Director of Mathematics at the same school. Outside of this “9-5 job”, I am an Educational researcher. My most recent publication being: Donkor F., Toplis R. (2017) Towards a Framework for Developing the Emotional Intelligence of Secondary School Students Through the Use of VLEs. In: Tatnall A., Webb M. (eds) Tomorrow’s Learning: Involving Everyone. Learning with and about Technologies and Computing. WCCE 2017. IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology, vol 515. Springer, Cham
- With a Ghanaian background, what prospects or proposals do you wish to be implemented in Ghana to strengthen existing teaching and learning?
Whilst I believe that the Ghana Education Service can boast of some very good teachers and schools, I feel the system lacks rigour when it comes to accountability and the use of data to support students’ progress. That, for me, has been overlooked for years and as a result I feel the majority of students, especially those from the so called second and third class schools, have often failed to maximise their potential. I also think there is a need for schools to encourage students to read more widely, right from primary school to SHS level.
- What roles can you play as an individual within your time and resources to raise the quality of education in Ghana?
I am willing to share the learning and experiences I have acquired from the nearly 20 years that I have been teaching – including the leadership perspectives that I have gained from the different roles I have held. Whilst I acknowledge that not all the skills that I have acquired, especially from teaching in England, are readily transferable to a Ghanaian context, I believe some parallels can be drawn. I could share with school leaders how we have used data to hold teachers to account and to raise students’ aspirations, for example. I could share with schools how they could improve their overall effectiveness, observe lessons and share insights (particularly with trainee teachers) on the importance of having a strong pedagogical basis.
- Where would you start and how can you galvanise your efforts with local teachers and education stakeholders?
I am in consultations with a few school leaders in Ghana and also with a large Educational charity in the UK about a possible pilot programme designed to help raise students’ outcomes in a selected number of SHSs. All being well, the pilot programme should take place in April or October this year. An ideal African education system, for me, will be one that prepares our students adequately such that they are able to compete with students from any corner of the globe, in every relevant subject.
- Share your dreams of an ideal African education system.
It will be a system that builds independence and resilience, has a balance of theory and practice so that students are not merely regurgitating facts but also analysing, synthesising and innovating for purpose, a system in which administrators, teachers and students are equally accountable for outcomes.
- Where do you see yourself in the landscape of educational development?
Change agent – influencing policy and practice so that the next generation of learners/leaders have choices and opportunities.
- What appropriate measures do you suggest for UKAPES to meet its objectives to transfer pedagogies to Africa?
Identifying and partnering with key stakeholders, including schools that are willing to learn and trial initiatives. It might be an idea to work closely with the teacher training colleges.