The usefulness of teacher unions in Ghana is over and must be dissolved immediately

Philippa Larsen The National President of GNAT, Mrs Philippa Larsen

Wed, 28 Jul 2021 Source: Doctor Kwadwo Ye-large

Unity as they say is strength but is no more like that today in the teaching fraternity. Teachers form the largest portion of public sector workers in Ghana and they are the mother of all professionals in the country but the unity amongst them have been short-changed by a few self aggrandizing people who claim to be knowledge boxes thereby making the voiceless teacher struggle and regret for choosing the profession.

The main purpose of belonging to a union is to lean on the leadership in times of difficulties, sharing of ideas and above all show solidarity when necessary. These among other things necessitated the formation of Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) and eventually all other teacher unions which now number up to a reasonable percentage compared to other professions with GNAT being the mother union of all.

These groups by laws are expected to negotiate for the good of it’s members, help organize training workshops to improve the professional development of the members and also ensure the welfare of all who in one way or the other belong to them. These unions serve as a link between the workers and the government or their employer when necessary but what the Ghanaian teacher sees is totally different.

These unions have now become places where people go to showcase their political colours or ambitions or to make money to the detriment of the poor teacher whose monthly contribution is been used to run the affairs of the union.

Leaders of these groups never present the needs of their members to the employer for redress but rather their own personal interests.

For instance, teachers' arrears have now become a legacy debt in the accounts of Ghana government which could have been avoided if these unions were to be active like others. Promotion of teachers have become hell as it leaves a good number of teachers behind with several issues as well as teachers upgrading.

All these are to be championed by leadership of the unions but the reverse is what we see. Most teachers have to contribute money for middlemen to work for them. Certain government policies are washed down to teachers with little or no interventions from these teacher unions.

For instance, the new Educational curriculum was introduced in September, 2019. Up till now, no basic school can boast of a single textbook but the leadership of the teacher unions are quite. Many teachers graduated years back and now hoping to be upgraded but nothing has been worked on. In-service teachers filled online forms for their license but nothing good has come out, even payments have be done to that effect. Yet, the leadership of the various teacher unions have not made an attempt to follow up.

All that these unions can do best is to help negotiate for an unprecedented 4% salary increment for their followers as well as giving out loans to their members. Instituting retirement policies and funeral policies for the suffering teacher who needs money at the moment to solve immediate problems.

One other thing GNAT can do best is to be using members' contribution to promote the general Secretary through regular release of SMS which in effect is not what members want, to declare unnecessary and unwarranted strikes.

Until a total revolution is centered on leadership of these unions, teachers will continue to struggle for ends meet.

Columnist: Doctor Kwadwo Ye-large