"If you have to put someone on a pedestal, put teachers. They are the society's heroes". (Guy Kawasaki).
Educational Workers Connect, an educational Think Tank interested in ensuring quality education across the country has received with utter shock and dismay the decision as announced by His Excellency, the president of the republic, to provide "one hot meal a day" for both teachers and students at the basic level as they prepare to write their BECE.
We did not only consider this package demeaning to the teachers and the noble profession but also, embarrassing which does not engender hope, loyalty, dutifulness, and commitment from the teachers.
We say this because we are all aware of the juicy and rewarding COVID 19 packages given to our hardworking Health Workers and front line workers as announced by our president.
As we speak, health workers were given tax free salary and front line workers also bagged home 50% of salary increase for their efforts towards reducing the covid 19 menace. These gestures, we are not against because we believe they are very much deserving of them considering the life threatening risks that they are exposed to. We also heard of the BNI officials who are also captured as part of officials to benefit from the same Covid 19 package.
It is therefore shocking to hear what our president, during his 15th Address to the nation on COVID-19, promised as a package for teachers who are also working tirelessly during this pandemic situation to prepare the students for both WASCCE and BECE.
We consider this announcement not just as an afterthought, but also disproportionate and ridiculous for the teachers.
We are also at a loss how all of a sudden the teacher is considered so poor and incapable of providing free hot meal a day for themselves to warrant this package.
We want to state unequivocally that, what the teachers also need at this crucial time to get them motivated and committed is certainly not the free hot meal a day. NEVER!. Rather, they also need packages that commensurate with their efforts at the time that they are also putting their lives at risk.
After all, it is a fact that cannot be denied that, 14 second cycle schools across the country and still counting have recorded cases of COVID-19, where some teachers and spouses were also not spared besides the students.
In spite of all these, we haven't heard from our president any package for them, the students who got infected and the other teachers who are still invigilating the papers as we speak. What crime has the Ghanaian teacher committed? Hasn't the profession be disregarded, looked upon and demotivated for far too long?
According to Bill Gates "Technology is just a tool, in terms of getting the kids to work together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important".
Michael Morpugu also posits that" It is the teacher that makes the difference, not the classroom. "
Besides, we have also realised per our findings that, as of 27th February, 2020, that the various teacher unions, namely, CCT members, GNAT members and NAGRAT members are owed various sums of money as salary arreas submitted their data and the breakdown below.
CCT members - 9,410
GNAT members- 45,512
Total number of teachers owed excluding Nagrat members stand as 54,922.
It is not therefore striking to note that, till today these arrears have not been paid to the deserving teachers who are supposed to be at the heart of our educational system? It beats our imagination to understand why the seeming feet dragging on what the teachers rightfully deserve.
We are very much aware that, these arrears didn't start today, but as long as we understand that, governance is a continuum, we expect the government to expedite action to make do their promise to teachers. All these help to ensure that, the quality education that we are all yearning for is realised.
We want to once again put on record that, our teachers deserve more than the free hot meal a day as announced by the president.
The total disregard for our committed teachers by all governments must cease forthwith and dignity restored and accorded.
Bartlet Glammati once said that, " Teachers believe that they are a gift for giving: it drives them with the same irrepressible drive that drives others to create a work of art or a market or a building ".
We conclude by once again respectfully calling on the president and the government to as a matter of urgency institute a more dignifying, deserving and rewarding COVID-19 package for all teachers teaching during this period and invigilating the ongoing WASCCE and the yet to be written BECE. Also, we plead with the government through GES to expedite action on the payment of the salary arreas owed the teachers.
This we believe will undoubtedly motivate the teachers to give off their best all with the view to ensuring that the government provide the quality education that we stand for.
Indeed, " Everyone who remembers his education, remembers teachers, not the methods and techniques. The teacher is the heart of the education system " ( Sidney Hook).
Daniel Yao Agbezudor