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Opinions of Friday, 29 January 2016

Columnist: Tse, Frederick K. Kofi

Another Open Letter to GNAT: You Should Get Smarter!

I perfectly agree with Peter Suaka’s ‘open letter to GNAT’ that teachers in Ghana need smarter souvenirs and not the usual diaries, key holders and radios, to facilitate their work in delivering lessons and shaping the future leaders of John Mahama's Ghana. The letter which was published on the 19th of January in this portal raises one of the important issues that is of worry to many teachers; especially young and ambitious teachers. I intend, in this piece, to continue from where Peter ended and raise a few issues as well.
To start with, Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) should be ashamed of going to the market to purchase inferior products year on year as souvenirs for professionals at a time when student representative councils in tertiary institutions are buying quality products with scarcer resources. The diaries provided by GNAT is probably the most inferior compared to the ones provided by, NAGRAT, Concerned Teachers (a group no one knows what they are concerned about) and other professionals. If you write note like my brothers in Islam pray, your diary will soon "check out'' of its cover within months like a descaling-snake does. As for the radios, the least said about them the better, because such radios are best fit for children below primary six. They have no status, no swag?toyish and don’t even last. Or can any GNAT executive present such diaries or radios as a gift to a friend of his/her class? Would such gifts be appreciated? Come on, get smart GNAT!
GNAT has so many investments across the country which are products of teachers’ dues, but many teachers do not benefit from these investments. The appalling thing now is that they "force" teachers to enroll on Teachers Mutual Fund as if it is the panacea to teachers' financial problems. So those who have not subscribed to be part of the Mutual Fund have their salaries deducted from source because GNAT has access to salaries from Controller and Accountant General’s Department. As a result, yours truly and several other colleagues have fractions of their salaries deducted from source as monthly contributions to the Teachers Mutual Fund(TMF) without any document of agreement and to make things worse, attempts to petition TMF through email on their website proves futile.
GNAT should find a smart way of addressing this issue by reimbursing the funds to those who are not interested in contributing to the Mutual Fund or present document to those who want to keep their membership with the fund manager since their local offices are not effective.
One important ingredient that is lacking in our education system is confidence. Our students don’t have it because the teachers lack it. Not only do teachers lack confidence in themselves, they do not also have faith in the Ghana Education Service (GES) and GNAT. Many energetic teachers are leaving the teaching field today not because they are not patriotic but because of frustrations, contempt and intimidation from staff of GES and GNAT who themselves are insecure and lack proper human resource management skills. This has to change so young, intelligent and ambitious teachers (who are suitable role models for our kids) will remain committed to their first love and not go looking for greener pastures in other careers.
GNAT has also failed to exude confidence as a major stakeholder in the education ecosystem. Now that sister associations are competing with GNAT for significance, the parent association of the Ghanaian teacher cannot s sit aloof with its hands between its thighs. Over the years, teachers remained silent as the duration for senior high school has been tossed around like the testicles of a naked man, and now that election is approaching the Free SHS policy is going to be the main education policy for almost all the political parties. GNAT executives should not wait for appointments by governments to education committees, or until journalists come haunting them with questions before they give individualistic opinion on education policies of governments and political parties. One way to do this is to join forces with NAGRAT and Concerned Teachers to issue a solid expert opinion on such policies.
Posterity deserves an association of teachers which is proactive on policies concerning education because when results of students are poor it is the teacher that receives the lion’s share of blame.
The curriculum of Universities and Colleges of Education should make room for such courses as leadership and personal development with treads of financial education to help build confidence in the role models of our children. The above, I believe, should not be too hard for the parent association of teachers to advocate.
Frederick K. Kofi Tse