Teaching in Ghana is one of the professions that contain the highest number of human resources. With the existence of over 45 teacher colleges in the country, one can easily predict the number of teachers who have added up to the profession annually. When we were young, we were told that if you couldn't pass well to enter the university, the only option left for you is going to the training college to be trained as a teacher.
There was nothing attractive about going to the training college and becoming a teacher. This unattractiveness was the manifestation of the condition of teachers who were in the service. The wretched living by teachers sometimes back needed much to be desired. Others took going to the college to become a teacher as a stepping stone to enable them go to the university or travel abroad or do something other than teaching.
With over 280,000 Ghanaians who call themselves teachers, we continue to ask ourselves whether the profession has changed in terms of better living standards or still the same. Well, if you are a teacher, you will understand that our profession is still unattractive as it was in the days. Perhaps, globalization has changed the outlook of the personnel but the value that is needed to bring dignity and self esteem largely remain the same and may be worse.
Eleven years ago, the teaching profession was under pressure in terms of better remuneration. The introduction of the Single Spine Salary was thought to have come to alleviate the plight of teachers. When it was first introduced, many of us beamed with hope because we thought at long last things are going to change for good. Unfortunately, the much touted Spine Salary only glorified itself in 2009/10. Since then nothing has changed and the story that made teaching a desperate profession is being told in a different fashion. There is still a monumental pressure on the profession and many teachers are handicapped and continue to live in the threshold of hardship and desperation.
The reality is that our qualifications are just names and come with little or no remunerations. Though many teachers continue to seek knowledge, this knowledge seeking does not yield into monetary reward or better salary adjustment. Whilst teachers spend their hard earned money to pursue education, the certificate or the upgrade in their knowledge does not translate into salary increment of any sought. The best teachers can do is to acquire a master's degree and even with that you need to pass through promotions before you can be rewarded.
It is interesting to know that a teacher with a rank of AD II or I cannot go home with ¢3000 ($500). These two ranks are the two highest that are common among teachers in Ghana. So imagine the salaries of the ranks below them. That will be worse off. This is the profession that comes with many rules and regulations, work overload, and the most difficult task of transmitting knowledge. Teachers risk their lives teaching in the hinterland and face all forms of danger and hazards in practicing their profession and yet it seems that we are treated with disdain and impunity.
This situation has plunged many teachers into low standard of living and perpetual hardship. Teachers have become targets of financial institutions and governments upon governments close their eyes on our plights. Lack of savings make many teachers desperate and subjects of societal ridicule.
It is a fact that teachers are least cherished in the society and this has drastically lowered our dignity as professionals. We are treated as though we don't deserve to be respected. Our employer, GES, cares less about us, and day after day they are adding up to our plight by introducing more policies instead of thinking about the total wellbeing of teachers as well. The many excuses the government gives about teachers and their sheer numbers indicate how he has taken us for granted for ages.
Time will not permit me to compare the teaching profession to other professions in terms of remunerations because that will expose the shame that has engulfed it. Many teachers pretend about this reality and though they cannot meet the living standard, they accept it and struggle to make ends meet. The RUSH HOUR every month at the GCB tells it all that teachers are indeed the hard-hit professionals when it comes to financial freedom.
If the government should refuse to pay salary in the next three months, not many teachers can survive till the when the next salary will be paid. Financial comma and catharsis will swallow many of us. *This is an indication of poverty lurking among professionals that train the country's human resource base. Teachers, our destiny is in our own hands to create wealth for ourselves so that we can fit into society and be respected.
Are we going to rely on Teacher Unions, Our Employer or the Government? Wealth creation is possible when we have a better and committed independent union. Let's wipe out our tears and begin to develop a professional worth mindset. When we begin to see our professional worth, neither our employer or the Government can toy with our destiny. Remember, the next generation of teachers deserve better and we must be the reason today when others will smile tomorrow.