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Opinions of Friday, 16 October 2020

Columnist: Adam Mutaka

The dignity of the teacher is greater than GH¢1,200

Government is a continuum of public managerial processes Government is a continuum of public managerial processes

I have sighted a video clip on social media in which the minister for education seeks to create the notion that money slated for Continuous Professional Development of the teacher, and which the teacher is yet to receive; is what the teacher will be seeing on the ballot paper come December 7, 2020. And me as a concerned member of the chalk fraternity, I would like to set the records straight.

Politicians think they are master conjurers. How could the education minister create the impression that the GH¢1,200 which has been promised to be given to the teacher as Continuous Professional Development Allowance is enough as a magic wand to mesmerise all professional teachers to vote in a certain direction?

How? Teachers are the bedrock of every country and Ghana is no exception. We inculcate values and mores. So, it is high time the Ghanaian teacher be shown some appreciable degree of reverence.

Why is that, anytime the teacher is going to be a beneficiary of a particular policy, the issue is over magnified and trumpeted beyond the boundaries of the world? Why should everything about us be public knowledge?

Do we know how much ministers receive as total allowances for a month? Or is it that the teacher unions have not been able to drive home to government, the actual needs and cravings of the teacher?

According to the government, the allowance in question is meant for the continuous professional development of the teacher. In effect, it is money for workshops -- nothing more nothing less.

Not money that can be expended by the teacher for other needs or wants. But for the minister to create the impression that the money is some free money for teachers; makes his submission on the matter, completely misplaced.

How on earth could he imagine that a paltry GH¢1,200 is enough to make a professional teacher act otherwise? No real professional teacher can be lured by money of any sort, to yield to inappropriate circumstances. Teachers are honourable people; so we demand all and sundry to treat us as such.

Not too long ago, the streets were painted with reports on how certain prominent and abled citizens of the country turned out to be beneficiaries of the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETfund).

My question is, since the inception of GET fund, how many teachers have benefited from it with regard to their career development? Most teachers who go on to further their studies do so with loans. GETfund does not come to their aid. Why?

How much does the minister receive as an allowance for a month? Is the teacher's GH¢1,200 annual allowance for professional development anywhere close to that? So, using GH¢1,200 on a political outlet to, as it were, ridicule the professional teacher will be met with the strongest objection it deserves.

What we demand is what is legitimately ours. Many of us have been owed several months of arrears which the government is yet to pay. And it surprises me how the government has been able to coin a "befitting nomenclature" for those accrued arrears. They call it, "Legacy Arrears". Is this not some form of dishonest smartness? I do not understand why we only have legacy arrears but not legacy revenue or income.

Government is a continuum of public managerial processes. So if one particular party's government is out of power, they automatically bequeath all the State's assets and liabilities to their successors. The successors do not have the luxury of choice to name some of the liabilities so inherited as legacy arrears or legacy debts.

All assets and liabilities of government belong to the state. And administrators of the state firm, at every point in time is responsible for the health of the nation's balance sheet. Politicians dexterity in picking and choosing names for state liabilities such as the teachers' arrears only seeks to minimize the burden of responsibility on them. And that is most disingenuous.

Or if the government think they are right to do that naming, then they should point to us some legacy schools, clinics, hospitals, roads, oil wells and so on. The arrears owed teachers are arrears, but not some legacy arrears. And the government should as a matter of urgency, pay those who have not yet been paid.

To conclude, I would like to tell politicians that the teaching job is pregnant with sacrifices, and if they do not have the mental and financial infrastructure to augment the conditions of service of the teacher, then they should not try to infuriate us with petty political talks.

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