SAVING THE IMAGE OF THE TEACHING PROFESSION: A CURE FROM DESPERATION
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]By Isaac Ofori
I write this with pain in my heart because if my head were waters, I would have wept for the desperation of our profession.
From time immemorial, teachers have been victims of circumstance and societal mockery. Teachers are like the Fante name for a child who is born to his parents late “nyamekye” (God given) and instead of them being treated like kings and queens, they are like nuisance to the parents who gave birth to them.
Ranging from meagre salary, poor accommodation, low standards of living, low self esteem and low facial value; have been the daily paintings on the wall for people to read about us.
Though there have been some salary adjustment since the inception of the single spine pay policy, teachers conditions of service under current economic turbulence is nothing good to write home about.
Comparatively, it is only teaching that lacks proper conditions of service. The only visible so called conditions available to us are: maternity leave, leave without pay and study leave with pay. The rest are not forth coming such as car maintenance allowance and transfer grants (occasionally).
As for utility and accommodation allowance, no teacher is entitled to a penny. Teachers pay for their own rents and utilities from their own salaries. This certainly will force us to lead a low class life due to the astronomical pressure on our meagre monthly income.
We are subjects of loans and financial borrowing and enemies to investment and savings simple because our salaries do not meet the professional nature of our job.
What is particularly lamentable is how teachers become desperate getting close to the month. We begin to call ourselves to find out whether the banks are paying and virtually most of us squander our salaries by the 20th of the month. Imagine teachers with family and other dependants. The pressure and the desperation is monumental.
Majority of us wait till pension before putting up a decent building or even if we manage to put up that building whilst working we will have to wait for long time before completion. We cannot buy any decent car without loan and even give our children higher and better education due to our low income.
We do not have any meaningful career development but upgrading of certificates to enable us get promoted. Even the promotion is not on silver platter. After working for five years with all the classroom work and activities, an interview with mere asking of questions will determine our fate. The most sad aspect of it is that these promotions do not fetch any additional meaningful income: just a step or two ahead of our previous rank.
We are always consoled to wait for our reward from God while poverty and low value life tore us apart.
A teacher with a family of two and a take home pay of ¢1600 cannot hire a decent accommodation of ¢250 monthly to give his family a better home that befit a profession.
Some teachers have excelled but not certainly the majority. Many of us, however, are struggling to make impact on our family and society.
Government upon government turn a blind eye to our predicaments and pretend we are too many to deserve better conditions of work. Successive government have failed to properly doing something about the situation and think all is well.
We come under intense pressure, ridiculed, insulted, assaulted, harassed and disrespected by officers with higher ranks (especially directors) and subject us to threat of suspension of salary, deletion of name from payroll or placement of embargo on our salaries. They careless about how the profession is making life unbearable for us and how they can help us to execute our duties successfully. Some directors treat teachers as if they are beggars and without teaching; their lives have come to an end.
Unfortunately, we have teachers unions who are busily taking our dues and funds and amassing wealth and have turned deaf ears to these plights. They are fully aware that something is seriously wrong with the profession but for mediocrity and *incompetence, they are working to deepen it rather than finding solutions to our problems.
Teachers need good salaries, the ones that can make life meaningful. We need to prove to every government the reason for salary increments to promote better standards of living. This must not be done with archaic chooiboi style of unionism but based on empirical grounds of total research to convince the authority meet our needs. We must without fear and favour fight for our right and restore honour, justice, freedom and fairness unto the profession.
Teacher unionism must be the basis for creating additional income, opportunities and career development rather than deepening our plights. They must conduct research and come out with their findings to promote equity and fairness.
Teachers are also ourselves enemies. We allow fear and intimidation to engulf us to the extent that, we even turn to forget the constitution of Ghana safeguard our rights as well. We turn to beg officers who are meting out injustice to us or trampling on our rights. We have not even made single attempt to read the bargaining agreement contract with our unions and GES and what the laws of these country say about our profession. We are yet to test the law concerning injustice and unfair practices in our profession.
We fear we will loose our job or get our salaries suspended or names deleted from the payroll.
We must be there for one other and together we can resist any form of harassment, assault and disrespect from any higher rank officer such as directors of education. We must not allow mediocrity and low self esteem drag us to accept whatever offer they put on our table, we also deserve better as professionals.
The dawn of new age is rising and young teachers must rise to defend the profession we have chosen for ourselves.
Long live Ghana! Long live Teachers[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]