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Opinions of Monday, 4 November 2013

Columnist: Okofo-Dartey, Samuel

Educators are morphing into predators

At a time where the government seems to grapple with managing the economy soundly, an unfortunate event seems to rear its ugly head menacingly. Certain unscrupulous individuals are degrading the nobility of the teaching profession. And without doubt this is the profession that Aristotle practised to train Alexander the great. Believe it or not, the rate at which some male teachers in the country are sexually taking undue advantage of their female students is very alarming.
This negative phenomenon seems to surge as little is being done by educational authorities to fumigate the system. The recent in the wake of this sexual abuse or misconduct was when a teacher trainee on several occasions defiled his student. (See Teacher Trainee in Sex Bouts with Pupil, The teacher at the centre of this anathema clearly capitalised on the vulnerability and innocence of the pupil to commit this atrocity.
That which has triggered this piece is the manner in which the Ministry of Education is handling cases of rape and defilement perpetrated by some of these immoral teachers. It appears these criminal are being treated with kid gloves and sadly, parents of the victims per reports filtering in are somewhat sluggish in pursuing the matter for reasons best known to them. One cannot fathom the rationale behind this weird predisposition.
In a more recent publication, a teacher who impregnated his sixteen year old pupil after initially aborting her pregnancy was only suspended by the Ghana Education Service. Pathetically, despite the palpable evidence of malfeasance, the Metro Director of Education for Accra could only ask the culprit to report to the Metro office pending further investigation. (See GES Suspends Teacher Who Impregnated His Pupil- www.
My beef with GES is if teachers who commit this atrocity which without doubt damages the future of these innocent girls are only suspended, then I can posit that the flood gates for subjecting female pupils to further rape and defilement have been widely opened. In some instances, I am told these miscreants are transferred to other schools to avoid disgrace. Can GES only transfer these teachers to continue with their nefarious activities? For how long can this continue without harsher punishment meted out to persons who are supposed to do better? It is in line with this that I want come out with these proposals
In the first place, it is about time that teachers were given licence after their training to practise the profession of teaching. The system currently in place is too loose thereby embracing persons who use the profession as their last resort after several attempts to getting a ‘better’ job. It is not enough for teachers to call themselves professionals after few years of training. Just like lawyers, doctors, pharmacists among others who have licence to operate and to lose their licence upon any misconduct, so must teachers be given licence to practise and in the event of any unprofessional conduct, their licences are withdrawn or revoked.
When this is effectively implemented, I am pretty sure the already fallen dignity of the teacher would be enhanced. Teachers would be extremely careful in the conduct of their duties for fear that they might lose their licence to ply the trade that puts food on their tables. The era where any person gets up and tags themselves as a teacher would be a thing of the past and most assuredly, entry into the teaching profession would be managed.
Beyond this, teachers who abuse female pupils must suffer outright dismissal. Suspension is not a cure but fortification further atrocity. Teacher rapists in my estimation are a danger and a disgrace to the profession. They are not fit to teach let alone instil sound moral values into these fragile and innocent souls. The teaching profession is not for the morally bankrupt or those who cannot zip their trousers in the midst of these female juveniles. Already, the Education Service is fast deteriorating in its quality and it will be decaying fast if teachers who abuse their pupils are entertained if drastically not dealt with.
Parents whom I might describe as heartless or irresponsible for shielding or softly kowtowing to incessant pleas from culprits must be prosecuted as aiding and abetting crime. The problem with most Ghanaians is that in the face of a heinous crime, you will individuals wailing for clemency when the law clearly stipulates the appropriate sanctions. The laws of the country pertaining to this crime must bite hard to deter others from doing same.
A story is told of a mother of a victim who was willing to let things go so far as the man was willing to pay a certain amount of money and willing to sponsor the girl’s education. The mother wanted to keep this crime on a low profile for fear of the daughter being marginalised and the possibility of not getting a man to marry. When such situations persist, why would not culprits have the impetus or effrontery to spread their deadly tentacles to other places?
Nana Oye lithur and her ministry should perhaps organise a mass and intensive education to raise awareness and safeguard the future of these little ones. This awareness should rather give practical solutions to female pupils when a male teacher makes amorous advances that put them in a very insecure way.
I have always maintained that the girl child has suffered several suppressive societal inimical schemes and the teacher should be the last person to hamper the progress of a young girl academically. Ghana’s growth and development is only halfway if the girl child is treated as an object of pleasure and not an integral part of societal change. Educators must therefore act responsibly for the sake of posterity.