Ghana Education Service: Home or hell for the teacher?

Osmanu Abubakar Osumanu Abubakar

Tue, 8 Jan 2019 Source: Osumanu Abubakar

Admittedly, this issue should not have been an issue of contention, however it has, because of the situations faced by the ordinary teacher.

Teachers, like any other public servants, are employed directly as a result of what they profess, to impart knowledge (cognitive, affective and psychomotor) onto learners. If that is the orientation, then arguably, without teachers there cannot be a formal education and a country without formal education will certainly be on the brink of oblivion.

If all these could be said in the assentive, then suffice it to say that the role teachers play in the nation's building is immeasurable and this should call for a pari passu treatment from our employer (Government) and the teacher unions. Unfortunately in our jurisdiction, teachers are treated otherwise, and below are evidence enough;

As per the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana, teachers, like any other public servants have the right to engage in industrial action against their employer to register their displeasures. Unfortunately in our jurisdiction, a Minister could call the bluff of teachers when they decide to engage in industrial action. Sometimes, teachers are threatened with loss of employment. I remember in 2006 when a whole President said he would sack teachers who would engage in strike and employ retired teachers to work.

Sometimes, teachers are threatened with forfeiture of their salaries. Few weeks ago we heard one. How could we have had such a system? Are they telling teachers that they have no right to engage in industrial action? Or it is simply a deliberate attempt under the rendition of coercive powers by people, who through accident of history, occupy such high ranking offices to ostensibly 'punish' teachers who are gainfully employed directly as a result of what they profess? I leave these questions to your conjecture.

@ We live in a country where teachers go to work on teachers' day, but surprisingly go on holiday on farmers' day. If we think it is not important, then it should be scrapped off, but so long as it is there and it is not observed, then it demeans the sanctity of the roles teachers play. As if to say, teachers are not valuable. Note, I am not pitching teachers against farmers, I am only indicating the inconsistencies in our system and I think this is clear.

@ Teachers in this country have no proper security, in what could be termed in parliamentary and assembly parlance as immunity. Whatever happens to teachers is nobody's case, even if the teacher might be right. Admittedly, there are bad nuts in the teaching arena who could cause problems, but care should be taken in order to establish the facts before actions are taken. However, unfortunately as soon as a case is reported of a teacher, without establishing culpability in the first place, the teacher is picked up. Sometimes upon several contestations, then it is unraveled that the teacher is innocent. There was an instance where a teacher was incarcerated wrongly for months and later discharged on the grounds of lack of evidence. There are several of such cases. If we have proper security measures or if you want, immunity for teachers, I think some of these things will be paliated. Also, if GES and the teacher unions (GNAT, CCT, NAGRAT et al) have lawyers to fight for teachers' right in genuine cases until such time that culpability is adduced, teachers will be safer. There is another dimension to this, that is, in cases where culpability is established on the part of the teacher and he/she is dealt with, then the perpetrator is punished and published in the media with the name of the school in which he/she teaches. For me this is problematic (I stand to be corrected). Mentioning and publishing the name of the school has a psychological effect (stigmatization and victimization against the other staff members) on the school. I think it should be left at the level of the perpetrators without necessarily dragging the whole school into the media spectacle.

@ You have a country in which provision of TLMs is not a priority compared to hunting teachers for lesson notes. You have a country in which TLMs are sometimes provided at the tail part of the academic term/year when almost all the topics have been covered. In this case under this circumstance, how does the teacher work effectively and efficiently. Yet, you have a Professor (Prof. Stephen Adei) who publicly insults teachers in this country of "incompetence' without recourse to the ills in the system. Is it the teachers' fault government refuses to supply the needed materials for efficiency and diligence to reflect good performance in students? Yet, the teacher bears the brunt of people who should know better.

@ You have a situation where teachers have to be chasing their salaries at the CAGD because their salaries are blocked. Mostly, teachers fall victims to blockage of salaries for which reason nobody knows. In one particular year, for three significant months, salaries of teachers and some workers had stopped. I was a victim. I reminisce how traumatic and sad that was. Teachers all over the country were made to form long and meandering queues to be reinstated or if you like, re-engaged in order to be paid. That exercise as a result of some people's sloppiness and poor remuneration and payment management lasted for days, perhaps months. In this situation under this circumstance, how do you want the teacher to perform creditably when they are chasing their salaries? Something they have worked for? Why this frustration?

@ Poor Living Conditions of some teachers. You live in a country where some teachers have to walk several miles and kilometres to school. Nobody cares about how the teacher gets to the school. Government simply cannot provide motorbikes to such teachers to ease their movement to and from school. In this case, the teacher will be late to school and deliver less because he wants to get back home before night falls. Some teachers are residing in areas bereft of electricity and telecommunication network. Those teachers have to go to the nearby towns and villages to charge their electrical gadgets, make calls and access the Internet for information. Government cannot simply provide the enabling environment for the telcos to widen their coverage for the benefit of all. Government cannot simply provide solar panels for these teachers to make life a bit comfortable for them. There is no proper reward system for teachers who sacrifice their all and serve with alacrity and gusto in this country. Just recently a teacher who was seen to be walking hours to school was rewarded with a standing fan. I mean how? The problem is with transportation so I was wondering why they gave him a standing fan. It doesn't add up. Since he walks hours to school, the solution is a motorbike so why a fan? What kind of reward system is this?

You live in a country and in an era where some students are simply stubborn and contumacious. I mean there are students who would not attend class at all. Some would come to school and after break they run home. You dare not punish such a student (corporal punishment). You cannot touch such students without incurring the wrath of GES. How will they even respect their teachers?

I believe there are a lot of issues to talk about, but for the purpose of this article I leave it here for another time.

Thank you.

Columnist: Osumanu Abubakar