When you engage people about how teachers in Ghana are underpaid, the quick answer is that wherever you are if you don’t save, the value is the same. Sometimes I wonder if those who hold such a mindset had really sat down to measure the level of logic in which they make such confessions. Out of frustrations, many teachers I have interacted with use to say ‘even if you take GH₵4000 and you don’t save, there is nothing you can do’. Then I begin to ask myself if those teachers with their take-home pay can actually do the savings that they are alluding to. It is quite interesting that frustrations and lack of hope can make teachers become restless in this country and become subjects of difficult moments.
I want every teacher who is reading this my write up to sit back and ask himself or herself some simple questions: “Can I drive in my dream car before pension”, “Can I build a mansion before pension?”, “Can I personally save GH₵100,000 before pension aside SSNIT and TF after 30yrs of teaching?”, “Can I give my children Doctor, Lawyer, Engineering, Chattered Accountants professions?”. These questions are endless. It will interest you to know that some teachers don’t really care about these things. They only make fun of life. You will normally hear teachers saying I am comfortable with what I have, it is not because of money that I am teaching; I only love the children. Some funny confessions that are mind-boggling. Deep within teachers, these good aspirations of life could have been their portion whilst practising as professionals but the gate is shut. The teaching profession only knows mediocrity and sub-standard living and nothing else. Few teachers who have made it in life are either businessmen or women or have siblings or parents that are already making it or teachers with special talents. I can say with confidence that 90% of teachers live on the fringes of life and basically struggling to put up a two bed-room self-contained house.
If we want to classify professions in Ghana, we can classify teaching as the only profession that has more poverty connotations. When we talk of professional poverty we don’t mean the absence of money or the inability to buy basic needs but your inability to survive for six months when your salary ceases or if you go out of work. Poverty is when you cannot save at least 10% of your monthly income for your own projects or investment. Professional poverty is when you rely solely on personal loans even for the most basic thing such as the buying of a mobile phone or Television Set. I am not writing this to dampen the spirit of any teacher. I want teachers to understand that per the status quo, the future of many average teachers in Ghana is blurring and if care is not taking, the teaching profession cannot serve the aspiration of many zealous young men and women who want to make a future of good living.
There are areas of importance that I want to draw my analysis from to justify my point of view in this write-up. If you are a teacher reading this you must be concern about the profession you have chosen and never in your life settle for little things as means of consolation for failure. When any worker takes his or her salary, he or she spends on the following (a) RENT (b) UTILITIES (c) CLOTHING (d) FOOD (e) FAMILY OBLIGATION (f) MISCELLANEOUS. Now we want to assume that this teacher in our analysis is Assistant Director II whose salary is let say GH2300 ($403.50). A breakdown of this salary into these six components will demonstrate to every teacher that the profession is very gloomy and not good for aspirational seekers. We want to allocate GH₵200 for RENT, GH₵100 for UTILITIES, GH₵100 for CLOTHING, GH₵1,500 for FOOD (GH₵50 a day), GH₵300 for FAMILY OBLIGATION (that is extended family) and GH₵300 for MISCELLANEOUS (Church offertory, donations, kind gestures, unforeseen situations). We want to assume that this teacher does not have a family. The total of the allocations will amount to GH₵2500, a deficit of GH₵200. I could not add savings because that will sink the deficit further. In short, this picture indicates that when a teacher decides to live within his means (looking for comfort), per my calculation, he will need GH₵2500 to ensure that, all things being equal. Imagine if this teacher has a wife and three children! Just imagine the struggle and the difficulties that he will go through. Do your own analysis as well.
This is the truth that hurt the profession and teachers in general in Ghana. The economic situation in Ghana does not guarantee financial freedom to any person who calls himself or herself a teacher. Everything about the teacher is a struggle and gross exploitation. Some teachers hold degrees and masters but they are a mere academic relic, they don’t fetch any form of incentives or upward salary adjustment or promotions. The employer determines the fate of teachers no matter how meagre it is. This hard truth is making many teachers live a life of servitude and shuttered hopes. I am advising a teacher reading this to have a second thought about his or her profession and see whether the profession serves his or her full aspirations.