The 15th address of the President on the management of the COVID-19 outbreak came at the time the country was experiencing low numbers in terms of infection rate and an increase in recoveries. It is good news when the president said there are no backdrops of test samples; an indication that the country had won the battle against the deadly virus.
Among other measures and interventions outlined was the intention of the President to provide one hot meal for BECE candidates as well as their teachers. This will cover both private and public schools. With over 500,000 candidates waiting to be fed, their teachers of over 146,000 staff are also to enjoy the same treat.
This has come to many of us as a disappointment. Indeed, I commend the president for interventions such as free water and light which directly affect the income of the ordinary Ghanaian. But the intention of feeding JHS teachers with one hot meal a day is counterproductive in the face of the many difficulties teachers had gone through during the COVID era especially the private institutions.
The private school teachers have suffered most since school pupils were given a break in their academic work. The owners of these schools had not been able to live up to expectations in terms of payment of bonuses, allowances and salaries. More private school teachers had been laid off eventually due to the pandemic and more are likely to experience downtrend in their remuneration. It is of concern for the government to note that giving the citizens relief must include those who through no fault of theirs had lost their jobs. Private institutions are major stakeholders in our education system and the government and the ministry as such cannot in any way pretend about their predicaments and relegate them.
Again, most public school teachers had returned to school with the aim that apart from providing them with the needed materials to prevent the spread of the virus, the President would have extended the gesture he did to the health workers to them. In the midst of fear and panic, they had agreed to support the Ghana education system with their lives. Their expenditure had increased due to their long stay in the house and needed some level of financial interventions to enable them to defray some of their extra spendings.
The government had tried to motivate the SHS teachers with some, not less than, ₵500 on the average. We thought the JHS teachers in all fairness deserve the same treatment. The dichotomy created by the ministry is unfortunate and these JHS teachers are disappointed the more when the government came to announce one hot meal a day for them.
We are in an election year and I think whoever advised the president to descend into this path of propaganda should kindly go back to the drawing board and withdraw this lame intervention for astute teachers who had risked their lives in the midst of global heinous pandemic.
If the government thinks about the welfare of the school children by feeding them, it is in the right direction but for teachers feeding them is absolutely a misplaced priority. Teachers need money to survive in these hard times, they need to balance their lives with additional income, not one hot meal on a daily basis.
Many people will conclude that perhaps the government wants to create another juicy avenue for party caterers who might have been putting pressure on him for a job. It will also shock you to note that this food might turn out to be a sub-standard meal with many controversies as it happened during the workshop on the new curriculum by NaCCA.
We humbly appeal to the government to consider properly rescuing and motivating the private and public school teachers with monetary intervention, in these hard times, rather than feeding them. It is a misplaced agenda and many teachers in all fairness are not pleased with this form of end of days propaganda.