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20.12.2006 General News

Teachers join exodus wagon

By Public Agenda
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The country will soon be hit by the mass exodus of teachers to Southern African countries, especially South Africa and Botswana in search of greener pastures.

Public Agenda investigations have revealed that many teachers within Accra and selected regions have processed forms brought into the country last year by a group of foreign recruiters bent on enticing more teachers to those countries. The teachers have been assured that they would be paid monthly salaries ranging from $3000 and $5000 dollars in addition to other fringe benefits.

Some teachers told Public Agenda that, initially when the forms were doing the rounds, teachers in Accra were reluctant in filling them, but after the recent impasse between the members of the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) and the Ministry of Education, there's been a mad rush for the forms; an indication that some teachers are keen on leaving the country in search of greener pastures as they did in the early 80s.

Some labour experts talk of a large presence of Ghanaian teachers in Botswana, which is the fastest growing economy in Africa, with a per capita of more than $2,000.

It came to light during this newspaper's interactions with the teachers that the exodus of teachers from the country has been going on quietly for sometime now, but has now assumed such high proportion as a result of the recent industrial dispute involving NAGRAT.

Other teachers at Accra Girls and Achimota Secondary School, who pleaded for anonymity, have adopted a 'wait and see' attitude hoping to join the bandwagon the moment the pioneers come with good news.

The teachers said they could not stay in a country where their working conditions are treated with contempt, citing their recent two-month-old strike which did not yield the desired results.

'Society has taken the significant role the teacher plays for granted, we will leave and see how the nation will be able to produce the doctors, nurses, engineers, etc,'one teacher retorted.

Others also expressed disappointment at government's behaviour, regarding their conditions of service, saying that although promises were made that their salary would be addressed in the budget, but the budget was silent.

'You work for over twenty years and you can't put up a single room or even look after your children up to the university level because of the low salary we receive,' said a teacher.

The President of NAGRAT, Mr. Kwame Alorvi, told Public Agenda on phone that it is no longer a secrete that many teachers have been leaving the shores of the country in search of greener pastures.

Mr. Alorvi recalled that in the early part of this year a state in Nigeria requested for teachers from Ghana to teach science, mathematics and English. According to him, he passed the information on to his fellow colleagues and he would not be surprised if some had left.

He attributed the exodus of his colleagues to the fact that, the government and the Ghana Education Service seem not to be bothered about the plight of teachers. He buttressed his claim by citing as an example the statement by the Sector Minister, Papa Owusu Ankomah, during the NAGRAT strike that the government would recruit local teachers if they did not return to the classroom.

When Public Agenda called the GES office in Accra to find out if they had any information on the recruitment of Ghanaian teachers to Southern Africa, the PRO said only his boss could comment on the issue and promised to call back when his boss was ready. But at the time the paper went to bed, no word had come from the GES. When the Acting Director General, Mr. Michael Nsowah was reached, he asked this reporter to call back at 4 pm, but his mobile phone was switched off when the reporter called. Perhaps, when the radio stations call him, he would talk.

The country has been hard hit by continuous migration of doctors, nurses and other health workers to Europe for the better conditions of service, depriving the country of its human resource. Ghana is no doubt becoming a hot destination for recruiting trained professionals abroad.

Not only, trained professional are in hot demand, artisans, masons etc are now being recruited for the foreign market. Qatar is the latest destination for skilled Ghanaian workers. But the inhuman treated being meted out to the Ghanaian workers is an indication all may not be well out there.

One school of thought argues that, rather than preventing skilled workers from seeking greener pastures, the government should officially export such professionals to countries that need their services for a fee. In that case the economy would be benefiting from the brain drain.

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