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Opinions of Monday, 31 August 2020

Columnist: Johnson Nyarko

A letter to the president, His Excellency Nana Akufo-Addo

Hello, Mr President,

Please pardon me for the format of my missive since it is not official but, very reverent and constructive. I write with a confused mind and a sorrowful heart. I was glad though to tune in my radio to listen to your address to the nation on 30th August. Upon listening to your update number 16, on measures taken against the spread of coronavirus, I steadily sat in my frail, bendy plastic chair for the next 45minutes thinking of how I am going to survive my next 5 tempestuous months.

As a private school teacher, I am not left with a dime of my last salary which I received in March 2020. Truth be told, it was nothing above Gh¢600. I have survived a blustery journey from April to August owing to my toughness and the grace of God. Friends and colleagues who ran to seek refuge in their feeble parents' abodes to benefit from meagre pensioners salary and petty trading incomes as soon as schools were closed down after Ghana confirmed a case of Covid-19, sometimes question me how I survive as a non-native.

Mr President, I would not want to beat about the bush but my fair point is, myself (as a private school teacher) and colleagues are currently undergoing serious distress. All I was hoping for in your update no: 16, was for you to announce the reopening of schools with some restrictions so that I can get back to work, to quench my students desire to learn at school with their mates again. Also, be able to pay my rent arrears and send my mother some token. On the other hand, I hoped that if schools cannot be reopened, then you may consider us (private school teachers) for some relief package, especially for ones like myself who have not received a salary since March. My latter hope, I was not much sure about, but the former, I trusted my gut. Your excellency, in fact, after hearing that part of your address that said schools will be reopened in January 2021, except for levels JHS 2 & and SHS 2, I have been left in despair.

I know one will be suggesting at this point to me that, I stop lamenting and look for a new job. I am doing so, but as degree holder with a pure background in education and with NTC licensure exam certificate, has my hope of becoming a professional teacher with the Ghana Education Service hit the rocks? Mr President, recruitment of university graduates who have all the requirements to work with the GES is one thing I have been weeping bitterly about for long. Please heed to my cry and call on the GES/MoE to recruit me/us so that my childhood dream of serving the GES as a professional teacher does not wither like the ideas and literary skills of your uncle, "Obengfo" J.B Danquah was left to rot in a dungeon.

Your excellency, I believe that some of the times, we don't get to prosper in our part of the world like some western places because youth like myself don't get the opportunity to serve the purpose for which they were trained for. To mention one, I have seen someone trained as a crop scientist become a classroom teacher teaching social studies and someone trained as a teacher work with an insurance company.

President Nana Addo, you once said during on one of your campaign trails that, the future of the youth is today and not tomorrow. Please help make the future better for me and my colleagues by reconsidering your decision on reopening of schools, come up with a relief package for private school teachers who haven't received a dime since the outbreak and above all, kindly call on the GES to recruit university graduates who meet their requirements for employment in the service.

Thank you

A true youthful citizen