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Opinions of Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Columnist: Amoah, Anthony Kwaku

The Controversial Teachers Advert

By Anthony Kwaku Amoah

The teacher goes through stringent professional and academic training in order to perform well. He/she is given a repertoire of pedagogical skills for quality education delivery. Society accords the teacher with respect and recognition for his valuable service to humanity.
Some also see the teacher as a hinge on which any education system revolves. He/she is also a good counselor, coach, leader, facilitator and mentor. Pupils emulate teachers in order to become good adults in future. The teacher is therefore required to always live beyond reproach.
Our journey to economic prosperity and self-reliance can face hiccups if the path is full of mediocre teachers. Efforts must be intensified in producing quality staff and eliminating quack practitioners. Teachers must continue to imbibe qualities like honesty, humility, hard work and patriotism in pupils.
Society is bedeviled with heaps of ill-fated practices, such as armed crimes, conflicts, drug abuse, smoking and frauds. Social injustices and insecurity are now rife, making life very hard and distasteful, demanding urgent steps to militate.
Available records give our education system a bad image. The system has suffered several undue political manipulations from some governments. System reforms are made and rolled out at wrong times. A typical example is the premature phasing out of the 4-year Senior High School concept.
Whatever the case, one would have expected the concept to run for a while. The 4-year system started operation somewhere in 2007 and by 2010 it was already booted out and replaced with the old three-year system. The then Education Minister Alex Tettey-Enyo in the Mills-led NDC government masterminded the assassination of the 4-year concept.
Students who entered senior high schools in 2007, 2008 and 2009 were the only ones permitted to enjoy the 4-year system. The 3-year program then took over from 2010. The pledge to bring back the 3-year system, when given the nod to occupy Government House, was very pronounced in then opposition NDC party’s manifesto in 2008.
However, evidence shows that, the first batch of students of the defunct 4-year program, who graduated last year, has produced one of the best senior high school results in recent times.
It is worrying to see our education system encroach with unnecessary politics. Teachers and other education workers must be sufficiently consulted in any educational reform exercise.
Actually, the country is crying seriously for a stable, pragmatic educational policy which can run through all future regimes without any qualms. Government should do away with vile propaganda geared towards winning elections.
Government says it has so far registered unprecedented feat in governance, including the area of education. I believe Ghanaians should be the best judges.
Our worry is why government would now want to use some professionals, like teachers to achieve their political aims.
Teachers are not politicians. Our constitution debars them from doing open partisan politics while in the profession. Those interested could leave the profession to play it.
I was therefore overly amazed and sad to see a political advert prominently featuring teachers on the Ghana Television (GTV) recently. The supposed teachers in the advert talk as though teachers are now okay with their conditions of service under this regime.
Lofty presentations are made by the teachers in support of government. They extol government for the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS) falsely listing professional allowances, responsibility allowances for school heads, allowances for Mathematics and Science teachers and allowances for teachers in deprived communities as some motivational components of the Spine.
I watched this Advert with a tutor friend of mine. He was furious to such an extent of describing his colleagues as a “bunch of fools”. He then showed me his pay slips so that I can appreciate the realities of the issues. The slips did not carry any of the things being put out in the advert in exception of a meager teacher’s retention premium allowance.
Just recently, another friend had to say bye to the classroom as he headed for the bank as a project officer. He would always say teaching was a stepping stone for him. It is not wrong to laud government for an achievement. But the way and manner that is done is what matters.
It is a fact that teachers deserve better. Why can’t government regulate these hard-to-understand judgment debt payments and rather resource workers to deliver more quality service?
I commend the Ghana National Association of Teachers, National Association of Graduate Teachers and other allied bodies for unequivocally condemning and dissociating themselves from this politically provoked advert.
Teachers must recognize that, as professionals, there is the need for them to execute their duties devoid of all political feelings. A word to the wise, they say, is enough!