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13.07.2020 Feature Article

COVID-19 And The Plight Of The Honourable Poor Teacher In Ghana

COVID-19 And The Plight Of The Honourable Poor Teacher In Ghana
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Teaching isn't the only hard job to do in Ghana, but it's also the profession nobody, especially the politicians respect though it's the teacher who made them who they are today in society.

The disrespect towards teachers is seen across the political divide. However, much of it is being witnessed under the current government and how it sees the teacher to be a nobody. The disdain shown towards teachers by the current education minister leave much to be desired and must be condemned by all well meaning citizens. Anytime he opens his mouth to talk, the teacher is always at the receiving side of his insults. This makes me wonder if indeed this supposed honourable man has ever been taught by any teacher at all in his life time.

His recent comment that "who will work to pay teachers if they refuse to go to school and teach" is one of such attacks on the teacher as well as the teaching profession. Though I'm not a professional teacher, once I hold a chalk and inculcate the little I know into the Ghanaian child to make his life better in the future, I empathise with the professional teachers in everything they do, which is not seen by many in the society.

It's rather unfortunate the minister made such comments and openly too. I can only say the minister bungled when he attempted to compare the teacher to workers of ECG, doctors and other essential service workers in Ghana. What he deliberately refused to do was to mention the remuneration these very people he mentioned in his list of essential service workers benefit as against what the poor teacher takes home as salary. Let me make it abundantly clear that, no teacher would be complaining if he or she was better paid as compared to those the minister was so glad to list as essential service workers, who are working amidst the pandemic.

The honourable poor teacher is denied a lot of allowances that are supposed to be paid to him. Do teachers take medical allowances as it's done in some work places in this country? No! The teacher depends solely on his monthly salary to carter for his health needs. The teacher is entitled to accommodation allowance but does he get it? The teacher is indeed entitled to many benefits but as to whether the teacher gets these benefits is the million-dollar question. Therefore, if the teacher who suffers already gets nothing in returns as compared to others, why must a minister who should know better goof as he did?

It's highly pathetic to be a teacher in Ghana. Most young people after finishing the university and getting jobs are able to buy cars and build decent houses. The teacher pays rent till he goes on retirement to build a house. It isn't that the teacher doesn't know how to enjoy a ride in a car called his own or lives in a decent house that is his, but the financial encumbrance of the teacher makes all these things far from the destitute teacher, who lives in abject poverty with peanuts called salary. The irony of the situation however is that, a politician enters into politics today and the next day he's a multi millionaire with flashy cars and huge mansions everywhere in the cities. This makes the politician speaks with contempt towards the impoverished teacher who is living from hand to mouth. The teacher deserves better than this!

If not corruption and injustice, how can the politician takes home every four years what the teacher takes home in his entire working life time and you still think the teacher must work like a donkey! The Ex Gratia the greedy and insensitive apish politicians take home can't be compared to the entire end of work benefits of a teacher. But today, a minister wants Ghanaians to know the teacher is paid well and so, he must stay at work to die for mother Ghana. Why are the "big men" going into self isolation? They're running away from the virus and you want teachers to go face it and die. After all, who are teacher? God save the poor teacher!

It's a fact that, the teachers wouldn't have complained if the necessary proactive steps were taken to protect the teachers and the students against the virus. All teachers, non teaching staff and the students needed to have been tested before allowing them to enter the various campuses for teaching and learning to start. How can you only use a thermometer gun to determine who has the virus? And after that, you give nose masks and hand sanitizers. Is this enough to tell the teacher to stay at post and die? This is completely gobbledygook if you ask my opinion. Because, if some of the students already have the virus, spreading it among their colleagues and even some teachers wouldn't be difficult. Maybe you will say the cost of testing all these people is expensive but our lives aren't precious to the government I guess so. Our lives is valued by our families who care for us Mr. minister

But I don't blame the minister. He's only displaying his ultracrepidarianism, since a common vet knows no much in how vital the teaching profession is to the educational system. I would rather choose to blame the dormant and ineffective various teachers' unions dotted across the country and who are only and always interested in collecting dues contributions of teachers, but when it comes to the teachers' welfare, these unions seem not to exist. If indeed, they're up to the task would such an apology of a minister makes such comments and get away with it? No. What worries me the most is that, this isn't the first time this same minister have openly looked down on teachers with his unprintable words too. How long must anybody just come to insult teachers and cast slur at the teacher and his profession with such impunity?

Furthermore, how can any responsible government set your own rules and defy same with impunity? We were told no nobody even parents of students shouldn't be allowed to visit their wards. Then we suddenly wake up to see politicians on our campuses in the name of voters registration. How can we then be protected as the minister said we should follow the protocols and stay in school to teach? We had a full minister having the virus and roaming deliberately with it. How then sure are we that, those who visited our schools don't have it? Must our laws favour only those in government or what? Government itself isn't doing much to help in the fight against the virus, if it allows its members to continuously break the laws on social distancing and other protocols that are put in place to check the spread of the virus.

finally, Mr. Minister the poor teachers are staying in school to teacher but mind you, grades have no importance to any dead student. You must therefore be sensitive to the plight of both the teachers and students. If you can't close down the schools, which I personally think shouldn't be done especially for the final year students. But you should find a way of testing all of them as a proactive measure to make sure they stay healthy and free from the virus before they student their exams. They will be if they start and the number of infections starts increasing in schools across the country. It won't end well with them. And that might have been a waste of everyone's time and energy.

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Francis Angbabora Baaladong

Kaleo

Francis Angbabora Baaladong
Francis Angbabora Baaladong, © 2020

The author has 22 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: FrancisAngbaboraBaaladong

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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