Is being a Teacher in Ghana a curse?

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“Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important”, says Bill Gate. An axiom which is yet to be understood by most Ghanaians including those who control the affairs of education in our dear country.

The educational system keeps changing with series of policy formulation and rebranding but it is very obvious that the value has been similar if not the same simply because the personnel who is at the center of the implementation, the teacher has always been neglected with the adequate logistics and the appropriate motivation required for the success of the policy implementation.

It is an open secret that the Ghanaian teacher, though has a lot to do in training the mind and spirit of the Ghanaian child is among the least paid workers in the country. The only worker who keeps wake for other people’s children when the children and their own parents are soundly asleep is the teacher, something most Ghanaians are ignorant about. They feel your work begins at 8:00am and ends at 3:00pm because they do not know that you must prepare notes and plan for every lesson before you go to the classroom to deliver and if you couldn’t finish marking the exercises given to the pupils at school, you must ship the books home to mark because without marking and doing correction with the children, you can’t give a new exercise.

It is worse when it is examination time and you have scripts to mark, record it in the School Base Assessment (SBA) and then transfer it into their report cards before vacation, all within one week which is no joke.
Okay fine, I don’t think the Ghanaian teacher agitates to be paid “better and well” because we are never jealous of the fried rice and chicken that others are enjoying, all we expect is; don’t pour sand into the gari that we are drinking.

Last term I was teaching “How To Increase Productivity” in Social Studies (JHS2) and we mentioned “motivating of workers” as one of the ways productivity can be increased, one of the kids then asked; “so Sir, how are you motivated to deliver as we know your salary is small”? I was totally taken aback by the question but quickly, I gathered a perfect answer in my mind which turns out to be the reality: “you are our motivation” was the answer I gave them. Because seeing the children do well in their academics especially in the BECE gives you a great joy and the bragging right over your colleagues in the other schools in your circuit and district as a whole.

Ghana Education Service (G.E.S.) is therefore just like a “bimbo girlfriend” who when you take sex out of the relationship, there is nothing appealing anymore about your union, so should we take out the kids we teach, nothing motivates you anymore about G.E.S. The salary is low, no allowance for you, you work in a very poor environment, no or little respect from the society towards the teacher, inadequate or no logistics to use to deliver and upon all these, your bosses expect you to squeeze water out of stone for the children to drink which we always do anyway.

Mr George Somuah Bosompem (the Salvation Army Basic School teacher), may your gentle soul rest in the bosom of Abraham. I am very sure when you return into this world, you will not choose to become a teacher again and even if is your calling, you will never practice it in Ghana, a country that has no iota of respect and recognition for teachers. No wonder your painful death “in line of duty” did not generate any long lasting national discussion. Aaaaah!, but you were just a Ghanaian teacher, so what do you expect?

I was promoted to the rank of Assistant Director II (ADII) after a successful interview in July 2018. The promotion was suppose to take effect from September 2018 and eleven months down the line, nothing has been done about it, I am still on my old rank of Principal Superintendent. After the promotional interviews, we heard that as long as you have been successful, you will be automatically placed on scale but hitherto, I am still on my old rank just because of the little salary increment that the Ministry of Education will sanction for me to be paid.

A letter from the GES dated March 20 2019 with reference number: GES/DG/245/19/83 was circulated concerning this salary adjustment and arrears issue. They were then speaking “grammar” as to why we have not been placed on scale till now and is really pathetic and funny when you see the reason stated for the delay. The reason stated for the delay, they claimed was as “a result of systems and connectivity challenges during the migration of GES from IPPD2 payroll system onto the Human Resource Management Information……….” So I asked, in this era of technology, how long will that take? Two years, five years or even 7years because actually, my salary has been in arrears since 2012, yes, you heard me clearly, since 2012 when I upgraded to the rank of Principal Superintendent and till now, not even a pesewa has been paid.

I was only placed on scale later and was asked to apply for salary arrears which we those involved did and if they should bind the number of letters with photocopies I sent to GES for the arrears to be paid, it will be fatter than the size of the Longman dictionary.

Seriously, I have even forgotten that I am owed an arrears since 2012 because as an “ordinary teacher”, who has time to attend to your needs to make you feel relevant, am I a politician, a soldier, a police officer, a lawyer or a doctor?
“Oooooh” Ghana!, “ahiaaaa” do you pay the Ghanaian teacher before you are feeling reluctant to give them the very little that is due them? Even the BECE placement they do for the many kids across the country for their SHS, how many months does it take including marking of the BECE scripts, imagining even their mahoosive number, and you can’t place few number of Ghanaian teachers on their respective new scale with just a little monetary difference in their pay after eleven months, oh how! Is it actually a curse to be a Ghanaian teacher? We must bear in mind that no matter the lapses in the system, we cannot compromise the education, health and the security of our nation because they are the foundation upon which we can rapidly develop as a nation and it is only a failed nation that would not look at its educational system holistically.

Your Excellency Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo Addo, you are a law scholar and I need to ask; can you please strike out that portion in the labour law that says that it is compulsory for a Ghanaian worker to be part of a union? Because I am just wasting my money paying dues to GNAT as they do not represent my interest at all.

I wish to be on my own so that I know no one represents my interest on the negotiation table. I wish to say that the teacher unions especially GNAT are useless organizations to the Ghanaian teacher but may be, saying they are useless might be too harsh though is the truth, so I won’t say it.

I don’t know if GNAT is aware that my upgrading salary arrears has been in existence since 2012 and then none of their members who were promoted to the various ranks eleven months ago has not been placed on scale with the accumulated arrears paid them, so how useful are you to the Ghanaian teacher, by collecting dues from them every month, paying yourselves fat salaries from their dues and then giving them a diary and a GNAT calendar once in a year? Sure, as the black man as you are, our salary and other entitlements are not yours so you do not care whether it is paid or not but please, what does your conscience tell you, that we are not paying you to seek our interest? Imagine your salary has been in arrears for 7years now and you are in the position to fight for it, will you sit unconcerned? Please care small about the Ghanaian teacher whose money is used to pay your salaries which is even far more than the salaries of the members you work for.

Sometimes when I think about all these, I asked myself; is it a curse to be a teacher in Ghana? Imagine Ghanaian teachers were enrolled on The GES-SIC Group Insurance without their knowledge and approval. So what kind of profession is this, that someone will sleep and as a result of high fever will dream that the Ghanaian teacher needs an insurance policy and therefore I am enrolling all of them onto it and before you realized, they started deducting you even before you were told about it. Can this actually happen in other professions, what kind of insult is this to the Ghanaian teacher? Or is it because Ghanaians feel teaching is no profession or nothing special because anybody at all can become a teacher? Like I saw one of my kids I taught few years ago who completed SHS last year and is teaching in a private school.

I asked her what she is currently doing after SHS and she said “Sir, we are doing the same work”. Yes, she is right, is she not a teacher? Though just an SHS lever, she is a teacher like me, a Masters Degree holder.

No wonder the kids we teach don’t aspire to become teachers because to them as well, teaching is nothing unique and anyone can do it including telling you, that people always say there is no money in teaching and that’s how bad the teaching profession has been branded in our country.
As a nation, as we keep rebranding the educational system, lets also rebrand the teacher and motivate him well because he is the brain and the heart beat of the system, when he fails, the system fails. Let’s remember what Nelson Mandela said; “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”.

So looking at the components of education holistically should be the way forward for our country. God bless our homeland Ghana.

Source: Jones Justus Kumah (Dr. Ray)

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