On the 20th April, 2017, Prof. Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa, Dean of the International Programme office, KNUST was appointed the Director General of Ghana Education Service. This was probably the first time in many years that someone from outside the G.E.S. was being appointed as the Director General of the Ghana Education Service. His appointment was greeted with a lot of cynism from within and outside the service.
On the 16th May, 2017, a Professor of the Distance Education of U.C.C., Paul Dela Ahiatrogah, speaking as a Guest Speaker at the 5th Quadrennial Akatsi District Delegates Conference of GNAT underscored the need to appoint the Director General of G.E.S. from the service. He said the G.E.S is a service of professionals who are capable of managing their own affairs and should be given the opportunity to occupy the topmost position in the service. (Source: graphiconline).
What the good Prof. and his likes failed to realize is that this practise has remained the status quo over the years but the G.E.S. has not experienced any tremendous transformation.
Hiring people from within and outside to head an organization has its own merits and demerits. However, with an organization like the G.E.S. with its numerous challenges and over 300,000 employees required a leader with experiences and skill sets that were different from the ones that can be found within the organizations current management rank.
In his maiden address to the management of G.E.S., Prof. D.G. as affectionately called, assured that under his leadership, the nation’s education will greatly rise. It has been two years of Prof. Opoku-Amankwa’s stay in office. Has he been able to live up to his promise? This article is my independent assessment of Prof. D.G’s leadership and achievement after two years in office.
MY FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH PROF. KWASI OPOKU AMANKWA
The first time I met Prof. D.G. was in July, 2017. I had been directed by the then Chief Director of the Ministry of Education, Mr. Enoch Cobbinah to deliver a message. As I walked into his office, I saw a nice looking, simple gentleman at the doorway. I greeted him and asked of the Director General. He directed me to the secretary but the secretary sent me back to him that he was the Director General. I walked back to him to apologise but he smiled and led me to his office to deliver my message. His reception was extraordinary and what even attracted my attention during the meeting was his humility, sense of humor and worth of knowledge in the office he was occupying. I left the office so humble with the famous quote of Simone Weil that “Real genius is nothing else but the super natural virtue of humility in the domain of thought”.
His Leadership Traits:
The great professor leads by influence and inspiration but not authority. He leads by influencing others by his character, humility and example. By getting closer to him I identified these leadership traits in him.
- Humility: Finding humble leaders in an organization is a little more difficult because they tend not to shout about it. It is a trait that is identified by deeds from outsiders. A humble leader is measured and considered thoughtful and reflective, keen to deflect praise towards group than himself. Prof’s humility is associated by minimizing status difference, listening to subordinates, acknowledging others, appreciating people’s efforts, soliciting inputs and admitting mistakes.
- Good Communicator: Communication is a core leadership function. Effective Communication and effective leadership are closely intertwined. Since assuming office Prof. DG has used his communication background to effectively express his ideas, create and maintain good relationships as well as inspire different people from employees to outsiders. Good communicators are also good listeners. His ability to listen has given him a clear understanding of issues affecting the G.E.S. So that he can find solutions to them.
- Innovative: Innovative leadership is about bringing new-thinking and different actions to how executives lead, manage and execute task. It has to do with finding new ways of doing things to the benefit of an organization. Since assuming office Prof. DG has looked beyond the traditional means of doing things in the G.E.S. and has incorporated innovative leadership into his methods. His innovation has become the driving for change in the organization.
- His open-Door Policy: Another of his leadership traits is his open door policy. The purpose is to encourage open communication. This makes employees feel welcome to discuss matters of concern and also to contribute to the progress of the organization. Prof. D.G has used the open door policy to successfully build a culture of trust, collaboration, respect and communication regardless of individual’s position in the hierarchy. Also it has helped to ensure fast access to information and makes staff feel comfortable.
- His interpersonal Skills: This has to do with a leader’s ability to successfully work with and relate well with a wide range of individuals at various levels of an organization. These skills involves the ability of a leader to communicate and build relationships with others. Prof. D.G. relationship with his subordinates is exemplary. His regular engagements with staff have created a sense of comfortability and camaraderie among employees in the hierarchy. The re-introduction of an end of year together is a novelty. This occasion is used by the Prof. D.G. and his management to reengage and acknowledge staff for their efforts.
- Another top attribute of Prof. D.G is his integrity. My association with the good Prof. has shown that he’s honest and has unshakable moral principles with consistent actions and strong values. He’s built credibility within the management and employees of G.E.S. and has shown commitment to succeed as the head of a big institution like the G.E.S.
- His flexibility: Research has shown that many successful leaders do not cling to rules and procedure of work but make room for individual creativity and judgement. Since assuming office Prof D.G. has shown flexibility in leadership. He has not replicated what his predecessors has done in the past but has done things completely different whose impact I believe will last even in his absence
- Has successfully led the implementation of the government flagship programme free SHS. As the head of the agency directly responsible for the implementation of the free SHS programme; Prof. D.G. and his management has succeeded in allaying the fears of some skeptics and other well-meaning Ghanaians who were worried about the wholesale implementation of the free SHS. Programme. The current success the programme is enjoying can be attributed to his commitment, passion and determination to serve.
- The great Prof Opoku-Amankwa was part of the team that came out with the innovative double track system which has allowed schools to accommodate more students within the same facility. This innovation enabled GES to create about 180,000 extra spaces to accommodate the high number of students seeking secondary education.
- Created a conclusive environment for work to go on at the Head office of Ghana Education Service. As a Labour relations lecturer myself, one important factor for the performance of employees is the working environment. Maintaining a comfortable physical environment in the workplace is claimed to be vital boost for employee’s health and have a lower absenteeism rate.The facelift given the headquarters of G.E.S. since his assumption of office is a great testament of the great Prof’s change management style. The once dilapidated building now looks more like a modern office with all the rooms refurbished for a conducive working environment.
- The digitization and the introduction of paperless system in the processing of teachers documents is one major achievement which cannot be overlooked. Teachers going on promotion no longer have to fill numerous forms to apply for promotion. The creation of a system where teachers going on promotion, can fill their forms, check their results and others correspondence online has become a major relief to teachers.
- The decentralization of the IPPD from the Head office to regional level cannot be ignored. Teachers no longer have to travel from the various regions to the Head office to work on their upgrading, responsibility allowance, change of Bank, change of management unit. This system has given a lot of relief to teachers and has helped to reduce teacher absenteeism.
- The good Prof has shown keen interest in the welfare of children in schools. His swift action taken to deal with teachers who had misconducted themselves sexually with students cannot be ignored. This has instilled considerable discipline among teachers and re-assured parents of the safety of their wards in schools.
- Another Positive achievement is his collaboration with the sector ministry to decentralize the education directorates to municipal, metropolitan and district assemblies. This will ensure greater teacher accountability since the appointment and the recruitment of teachers will be limited to the district level.
The success of a leader is not measured by the number of years he stays in the position but the relevant changes and positive results he brings to bear in the organization within the shortest possible time.
Prof. D.G. has been in his position for two years but the transformation he has brought is enough evidence of his change management style and he has demonstrated that leadership is defined by results not attributes (Peter Drucker).
This Article is authored by