I am extremely grateful to you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity given me to make a Statement on the sinking image of the Ghanaian teacher in contemporary Ghana.
Teachers, as we all know, play an
indispensable role in society for they are the catalysts through which any educational reforms can be implemented. Apart from their pivotal role in the implementation of these reforms they are responsible for the manpower and human resource development needed for the scientific and technological development of the nation.
Teachers are the heart of every nation. We know the biological importance of the heart as an organ of the body. Just as the body collapses into lifelessness when the heart stops beating, the nation plunges into very serious catastrophe when teachers fail to do their work. It is against this backdrop that the plight of teachers should be an issue of great concern to all Ghanaians.
Mr. Speaker, teaching, like any other profession, has an image and in the advanced countries where teachers are held in high esteem, the image of teachers is the “professionals” professional for teachers are the producers of our presidents, ministers of state, legislators, Chief Justices, technocrats, doctors, engineers, industrialists, lawyers and so on.
In Ghana, however, it is pathetic to note that even though some of these important personalities had been teachers before and as such are aware of the risks and difficulties teachers go through, they tend to forget about the teachers' terrible conditions. There is an adage in Akan that says, Kwaee a agye wo no yenfre no kwaewa, meaning the forest that has been the source of your prosperity should not be downgraded.
Mr. Speaker, the image of Ghanaian teachers has sunk so low in recent times that it requires an “SOS” to salvage it from the doldrums and rehabilitate it to public esteem; no wonder some people regard teaching as a mediocre occupation hence those students who fail to gain
admission into other tertiary institutions enter the training colleges as the last resort. In the discharge of their duties, teachers are subjected to various forms of injustices and indignities of life. This situation stigmatizes the teachers and leads them into living a life of wretchedness. Some of the intractable problems teachers encounter include the following:
i. Lack of decent accommodation, a situation that compels some teachers to live in nearby towns and commute everyday. This leads to frequent absenteeism and lateness to school.
ii. Late payment of salaries: The protracted delay for payment of salaries and other entitlements to newly recruited pupil teachers and newly posted trained teachers exposes the teachers to serious temptations. Sometimes the teachers have to work for a period of between one and two years before payment of salaries is effected.
Mr. Speaker, I personally suffered the same fate after I had been reinstated in March, 2001 after completing a period of secondment. I worked for a period of sixteen (16) months before I started receiving my salary. Working under such a terrible ordeal, the affected teachers have no alternative than to resort to borrowing and parasiting in order to make ends meet. Teachers who find it extremely difficult to endure this predicament take to drinking and smoking and the difficulty by which they can extricate themselves from this unfortunate and humiliating situation once they get habituated to drinking and smoking is beyond description. Such