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Opinions of Thursday, 7 September 2017

Columnist: Gideon Adubofuor

Take it or perish: Ordeal of teachers in private schools

Education is undeniably a key to national development. Besides it is a fundamental Human Right entrenched in the 1992 Constitution of Ghana. This has necessitated the establishment of schools or institutions of learning by the State and augmented by numerous policies such as the Capitation Grant, The School Feeding Programme and the newly born Free Senior High School to give an impetus to the realisation of the educational right of the Ghanaian child.

However, the indefatigable efforts of governments to construct more schools to enable more people to have access to education have not been sufficient hence the vast deficit in terms of schools in our educational sector. This unfortunate situation has been salvaged by private individuals and churches establishing schools to compliment the efforts of the State.

Regardless of the enormity of the efforts of government to provide accessible and quality education, it has realized that teachers remain a constant variable that cannot be sidelined or overlooked hence the migration of teachers onto the Single Spine Pay Policy. This migration was meant to give a befitting remuneration to enhance their standard of living.

Although, the salary of the Ghanaian teacher in the public school is a subject still under contention due to the fact that it is relatively meagre compared to the remuneration paid to teachers in other countries such as Finland, Denmark, Canada, Egypt, South Africa just to mention but a few. Public school teachers are somewhat content with their remuneration.

The question here is are teachers who unfortunately find themselves private schools due to lack of employment space in the public schools content with their conditions of work? The answer is obviously no. What has the Labour Commission done about the plight of these teachers?Who has the supervisory role to ensure that teachers in the private institutions of learning are served with better conditions of service?

All these questions are premised on the fact that private school teachers are perishing due to the bad conditions of service they are served with. The following elucidate the plights of teachers in the private schools. Firstly, the extortion of monies from new job seekers or applicants. Some private school managers have been feasting on the vulnerability of the teaming unemployed professional teachers by extorting monies from them to organise interview for non existing vacancies.

Poor or unbefitting remuneration. With regards to this, professional graduate teachers are remunerated within the range of GHC 300.00 to GhC 600.00. This suggest that the average paid teacher in the private schools has to manage GhC11.66pws a day taking a month into consideration. This has resulted in the inability of such teachers to afford the basic necessitates of life.

Frequent untimely or delayed payment of salaries. Some employers in the private schools frequently and intentionally delay the payment of salaries of their employees while others pay half or do not pay the peanuts given to them. This subject these teachers to severe hardships in life.

Lack or absence of comprehensive and codified terms of conditions of service. Unlike in the public sector precisely public schools where employees enjoy a reasonable measure of conditions of service, most people working in the private schools either as teacher or in any other office lack condition of services that ensure his safety, happiness and comfort at the workplace and in life.

In the face of all these, the fortunate or unfortunate professional graduate teachers in private schools have no option than to take or endure all these unfavourable working conditions or perish in hunger.

I therefore urge the government to meet all managers or proprietors of private schools and streamline salaries for teachers in the private schools and also institute good conditions of service to ameliorate the plethora of problems teachers who ply their trade in the private schools are bedevilled with.

Gideon Adubofuor 0545002012