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Opinions of Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Columnist: Assam, Balemwo

The Teacher

They explore every means within their purview to make us feel comfortable and encourage us to learn. They comforted us when we’re in distressed situations. They mourn with us when we are bereaved. They ululate by rejoicing with us in most of our endeavors depending on the situations we find ourselves.

Out of the smile on their faces when they teach, it illuminates the entire class with delectation that, you don’t want to hear the sound of the closing bell. Embarrassing situations are always turned into badinage and humor to make us feel relaxed. Their words of encouragement always mollycoddle you to wake up in the midnight full of enthusiasm ready to go to school in the morning. If you come across such dedicated teachers, nobody in their class goes to school late and most do their best no matter how dullard they may have already been assessed.

In the class, they showed exemplary leadership skill, in the field of study they are so patient and tolerant albeit our shortcomings and will assist along the way without any sign of resentment. In our moments of success, when we do great in our exams, they rejoice with us exhilaratingly. Will encourage us to cogitate and to feel so good about ourselves; edge us to envision there’s nothing impossible we cannot achieve in this world. They will call or visit our homes to ascertain the reason why we abstained from school. That’s the distinguishing mark of a true dedicated teacher.

Their insistence for the right things to be done has shaped our lives tremendously. Their compelling guidance for us to obey our parents, respect our elders, leaders, and to fear God will forever be the guiding principle for the rest of our lives.

Teachers have played pivotal parental roles in our lives and continue to do so in the lives of our children. Taking care of one or two children has never been an easy task in our homes, come to think of a teacher taking care of a whole class of about twenty (20) to thirty (30) students. Some even take care of the students under trees without repining.

Teachers in diverse ways have encouraged, motivated and sometimes even sponsored students crawl to higher pedestals in their lives that, the students themselves never thought was possible. There are some students, in brief distress moments in their lives would have stayed out of school if not for the insistence of the teachers. Those who had the privilege to be in the classes of these dedicated teachers know exactly what I’m talking about.

Having said that, I’m equally cognizant there are few unscrupulous ones amongst them. The actions of those ones should not be used to punish the overwhelming dedicated patriotic teachers who have over the years sacrifice their lives to serve humanity and their country.

I can recall during the occasional admonitions at school, the headmaster said, “I cannot do any other work apart from teaching, not because I enjoy a huge paycheck out of it but, the joy to educate and to shape a worthy human being into the society. Your success replenishes our hearts with joy and your failures saddened our hearts. Go into this world with the TEN COMMANDMENTS and I’m very confident you’ll do well in this world. He ended by saying with a choking voice; do unto others just as you’ll want them do to you”. At that point, you can envisage insuppressible unadulterated emotions that could no longer be hidden from his persona. That’s exactly how most teachers feel towards their students. This narrative came up because; recently I came across a statement in which Members of Parliament were shamelessly agitating for increment of their salaries. They even cited examples of what Members of Parliament of other nations receive at the end of every month in those countries. Out of greed, what they refused to tell us was how much teachers and civil servants were paid in those countries.

They were not and could not be luculent enough to sensitize the public to support that selfish interest due to inward guilt. In spite of all the privileges and the largesse our Members of Parliament receive at the end of every month and every four years, they still wanted more. If you think you are not compensated enough to serve your constituency and your country, honorably bow out of the parliament and witness how contestants will congratulate you for that emprise.

Some of the MP’s had the mordacity to retort to the public when they were challenged, and their answer was; “If you want quality service you should be prepared to pay for it” arrant brazen display of impertinence. They refused to remember nobody pleaded with them to represent them in parliament; they begged and spent sleepless nights canvassing for votes.

In most instances, they raved and ranted at the top of their voices in every corner of their precincts for the people to vote for them. When they entered the parliament they refused to represent the people who sent them there but rather became so much overwhelmingly narcissist.

One would postulate, evocative of our Members of Parliament’s past with teachers will compel them to lend a sympathetic ear to their plight, yet none of them cared to raise their voices in support of the teachers, who deservingly were demanding their overdue remuneration for a livable wages as civil servants. Every teacher who protested had a Member in that Parliament yet, none of them raised their voices to support them.

Teachers rejoice to see their students become doctors, engineers, scientists, parliamentarians and presidents. Why then do you neglect the people who shove you to those higher levels in life? Every parliamentarian had their tutorials or lectures from the elementary to the university level from the teacher. Some were teachers themselves and knows exactly what teachers go through financially. In spite of the fact that you are well paid compared to teachers you were still requesting for more money. Why would you keep quiet when it came to teachers who rightfully deserve it? Now I’ll paraphrase our noble headmaster’s admonition, did the parliamentarians do what they expect others do to them?

Teachers at any level play significant role in our lives and will continue to do so if only we still want to have a healthy, educated, tolerant society called Ghana. Teachers were highly respected in our societies until when their service did not commensurate with the remuneration they receive at the end of the month. Until, the people at helm of affairs buried their heads in the sand not to listen to their plight. Teachers received very little at the end of the month and the repercussion has been the declining morals in our schools.

In our society, it’s often very difficult for individual civil servant to come out with the problems they face due to vindictiveness that will follow from anonymous sources. People at the helm of affairs may listen and that may lead to the end of your paycheck. They will find every means necessary to terminate you from the service. A lot of our teachers go on pension without money to sustain them in life. A very pathetic situation nobody wants or refuse to acknowledge. When the teacher is thinking of what to eat or to feed their families at the end of the day, how do they gather momentum to teach with clarity? How do they continually assume quality leadership roles in the lives of these students? Teachers do a lot for students, substituting parental roles in the schools. Counseling and molding our future leaders in the schools for no commensurable compensation at all yet, they don’t complain about it. They sometimes trudge through the forest in most cases alone to areas that are not motorable, to render their services. This has been possible due to the enthusiasm they put into their skill, the love for their work and country.

Inflation is so high that, it has become so unbearable to cope with the little they receive at the end of the month. It’s my humble opinion it will do a lot of good to the nation if, the government seriously consider giving them livable salaries and do something about their end of service benefits. Add accommodation to the new schools they are constructing to ease the burden on our teachers. Accommodation takes a sizable chunk from their salaries. What I’m enumerating here is just a tip of the iceberg, meet any teacher and you’ll palpably have the feel of what they go through.

It’s the responsibility of every Ghanaian to take care of those who took care of us and continue to take care of our children. Let me take this opportunity to say we Ghanaians salute every teacher past and present. We value your sacrifices over the years to our country. We support you and will continue to firmly stand by you in this grim moment of yours and appeal to the Government to seriously consider your petition with alacrity. We hold you in high esteem and will always respect whoever stood and continue to stand in front of a class to impart knowledge to others, from the elementary school to the university level. We humbly plead with the government, especially now that we have both the President and the first lady being teachers themselves in the castle, we expect them to take to heart the pathetic situations our teachers go through due to inflation. We are convinced; the government will do well to lend a sympathetic ear to ease the plight of the teachers. And to find a lasting solution to the crucial predicament our first role models and the role models of our children being teachers who end up in life miserably, after their unflinching selfless dedicated services to our dear nation.

Balemwo Assam balemwo@yahoo.co.uk Washington DC