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15.06.2020 Feature Article

Demotions that Were Not Really Demotions

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The case of the 92 Headteachers of some basic schools in the Ga-West and Ga-North Municipalities of the Greater-Accra Region, who were removed from their administrative positions and put back into instructional positions in the classroom, makes for a very instructive or educational lessons (See “Court Dismisses Suit Against GES Over Demotion of 92 Teachers” Ghana News Agency (GNA)/ Ghanaweb.com 5/20/20). The Headteachers were demoted for flouting an order issued by Headquarters Administrators of the Ghana Education Service (GES), which entailed not charging pupils and their parents fees that these demoted Headteachers claimed were necessary for the procurement of stationery to print third, or final, term examinations.

On the surface of matters, it seemed quite reasonable because the demoted school principals, in American parlance, claimed that the imprest account money that was supposed to have been released by the Accounts Office of the Ghana Education Service, for the aforementioned purpose, was late in arriving. But in reality, as seasoned and conscientious educators and administrators, what these Headteachers ought to have done should have been to either delay or effectively suspend the final term examinations altogether or, perhaps, better yet, procure the requisite financial resources from elsewhere, such as from some banking institutions and arranging to repay the same once money for the aforesaid purposes was made available by the GES. Placing the burden of providing interim funding for the printing of the examination papers on the parents and guardians of their pupils, and even in some rare cases these pupils themselves, clearly defeated the purpose of the Akufo-Addo-implemented Fee-Free Basic and Senior High School System.

But, of course, what was even more fascinating was what Justice Jennifer Abena Dadzie, of the Accra High Court, had to say in her very “perfect” ruling against the demoted Headteachers. I am personally elated by the professional demotions of the plaintiffs because increasingly, our public school administrators have consistently and persistently indicated that they have absolutely no respect for the law and order that ought to prevail to healthily facilitate the smooth functioning of any worthwhile democratic culture and system. Under the tenure of the Jerry John Rawlings-led junta of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), these condignly demoted Headteachers would not have dared to so cavalierly deviate from a directive handed down by the Administrative Headquarters of the Ghana Education Service, because the consequences could have been very devastating, including darn bloody and even fatal.

If they had either scrapped the final terminal examination or even indefinitely postponed the same, it would have taught the apparently lax or even nonchalant administrators at the Headquarters of the GES some worthwhile lessons, such as the possibility of some of these Headquarters Operatives getting fired by either the Minister of Education or the Director-General of the Ghana Education Service. That would also have ensured that these demoted Headteachers would get to retain their hard-earned administrative positions, the untenable denial of which could have easily won them a favorable ruling or verdict from the court and even some decent damages.

In her ruling, Justice Dadzie rightly pointed out that not only had the demoted Headteachers or principals not fully exhausted themselves of all the available avenues that they had to settle their grievances to their fullest satisfaction, or rather the fullest extent of the laws and regulations dealing with their profession, these Headteachers had not been not been really demoted as such, because their salaries and other basic employment benefits had not been forfeited or summarily taken away from them. They had only been stripped of their administrative positions/appointments because they had essentially demonstrated themselves to have been grossly incompetent and ill-suited for the job of Headteachers.

If the latter observation holds water, as it were, eventually, at least some of these Headteachers will effectively find themselves demoted, in practical terms, as they stand to logically lose some of the professionally established perks that come with their job titles and descriptions. But this ought not to matter to the rest of us the least bit because these demoted Headteachers already knew going in that being Headteachers was a privilege that did not automatically come with their job description as basic schoolteachers. Rather, it was a privilege afforded them because some of their superiors at various periods in their careers found them to have had the knack or flair for administrative work. You see, that is what complacency does – it incubates and creates professional arrogance and a false sense of invulnerability; and with the latter, a heavy thud and crash down the roof; and with the latter, of course, an irreparable fall in a remarkable number of cases.

*Visit my blog at: KwameOkoampaAhoofeJr

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD

English Department, SUNY-Nassau

Garden City, New York

June 9, 2020

E-mail: [email protected]

Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., © 2020

The author has 5302 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: KwameOkoampaAhoofeJr

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