Teaching under scrutiny: Teachers vrs self-esteem, actualization

Teachers Postings File photo : A teacher

Tue, 30 Mar 2021 Source: Isaac Ofori

Teaching as a profession in Ghana has come under scrutiny for a very long time and continues to undergo scrutiny. The scrutiny is not because teaching is a bad profession but many facets had come together to question the practice of teaching in Ghana.

Interestingly when children are asked which profession they will like to pursue in the future; many of them choose other professions other than teaching. Perhaps, they see other professions as more attractive than teaching.

Some of them begin to weigh the quality of condition of living of other professions as compared to teaching and they have resolved for themselves that teaching is definitely not an option.

It is clear that teaching presents limited opportunities and it is saddled with either a low of standard living or lack of quality life due to meagre income associated with teacher remuneration. Society at large sees teachers as mere helpers who have been employed by the government to impact knowledge. It is interesting that there is little prestige associated with being identified as a teacher.

Abram Maslow tabled a hierarchy of needs from physiological needs to self-actualization or fulfilment. Many teachers found themselves at the first three hierarchies of the needs in Abram Maslow’s theory. The reality however is whether teachers can aspire to the top: achieving higher self-esteem or fulfilment within the profession in which they practice.

Compared to other professions where people can actually aspire to fulfilment, being a teacher does not guarantee you any form of esteem or fulfilment even if you want to make it a lifelong profession. Achieving life dreams comes with a great gesture of enormous financial breakthrough through the work one does.

This dream is ever missing when you choose to become a teacher in Ghana. It is like the proverbial saying “your eyes would behold Canaan but your foot will never step there”. Living a class life, driving a dream car, going on a dream holiday, giving your children the best of education and contributing to society is just a mirage in teaching.

Now the big question stares at all teachers: “Can a basic school teacher ever aspire to pursue a doctorate (PhD) and still remain at the Basic and receive the desired salary like any other PhD holder?” The question is ‘how many basic school teachers in Ghana ever aspire to learn to the PhD level in their field of practice: PhD in Basic Education?’

Whilst other professions encourage professional courses to sharpen their expertise and for promotion for better remuneration, teachers are only encouraged to obtain a Master’s Degree in their field of study and it is just the certificate and the good feeling. There is no professional training one attends that will attract an upgrade or promotion or better remuneration for a teacher.

An hour examination including appraisal form is enough to promote a teacher and this takes place once every six years. No teacher can boast to be an expert in his or her field of teaching because there are limited professional development avenues. It will be interesting if GES would allow basic school teachers obtain a PhD and teach at the basic schools and receive the salary their counterparts receive at the tertiary level.

Don’t basic school teachers deserve to be called Dr A or B? Does their professional career or pathway end with a Master’s degree and that stops or what?

It is clear that we are being wasted as teachers because our best is a Master’s Degree and it stops there. Many teachers had to resort to extra activities to enable them to live within the acceptable standard of living. Some resort to extra income avenues which on most occasions put a strain on their professional practices.

It becomes problematic when teachers are limited in their professional practices and continue to be the most underpaid professionals in this country from time immemorial.

Teachers who get the slightest opportunity leave the profession and choose a different pathway. When you begin to ask questions relating to how teachers are being treated by their employers in this country, many of us will not even see the problem at hand but rather accept their state of mediocrity. They try to justify this mediocrity with excuses that are borne from frustrations and hopelessness.

Many of us think that the situation cannot change and therefore you must live a life of the survival of the fittest. Once you find yourself in the profession, be prepared to live in it as it is. This attitude has handcuffed many of us who really want to make teaching our profession and for life. The falling standards of education, as well as moral standards in our school, has its root in this poor state of teachers.

This is because transmitting or imparting knowledge in the public school especially is one of the difficult enterprises yet governments upon governments continue to gamble with the situation.

Teachers, will you want to obtain a Master’s Degree and remain in Basic School all your life? Teachers, would you like to pursue your education up to the doctorate and teach at the tertiary? Teachers, would you like to teach in the Basic School and be promoted based on an hour examination?

Teachers, would you like to put in all your effort to upgrade yourself only to be promoted every six years? Teachers, would you like to achieve higher self-esteem and fulfilment whilst practising your profession? Teachers, do you want to live fully your aspiration in life before you depart to meet your creator?

I leave the answers to all discerning teachers. Our destiny is in our own hands and the choice is ours to fulfil our dreams as a useful societal asset.

Columnist: Isaac Ofori