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26.12.2015 Feature Article

Job Satisfaction And The Ghanaian Teacher: Government Or The System? - Part I

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Comrades, have you noticed the chasing of teachers up and down from this year’s beginning to end? What calls for it? What effect does it have on these teachers which inadvertently would manifest in their output? Well, I have decided to divide this write-up into parts so as not to bore you with unfamiliar concepts.

In the field of human resource management, the concept of job satisfaction has been a much researched area which I need not burden you with its literature review. However, to set the pace clear, an employee job satisfaction can be simply termed as the degree of needs satisfaction that is derived from and or experienced on the job (Dessler, 1978). That easier said, is it the government of NDC or the system (I do not know the right term to use) which is responsible for the seemingly dissatisfied condition of service of teachers in the Ghana Education Service?

It is an open secret that about 70% of employees of the teaching staff of GES are dissatisfied with their job (GNAT REPORT 2010: Teacher Attrition). In reality, this dissatisfaction/satisfaction of an employee on a job rests on motivation. This could either come from the salary structure or conditions surrounding the work. The latter and former all account for teacher’s dissatisfaction in Ghana. However, I would focus on the conditions surrounding our work recently. Specialists in the field of human resource management would always use Adam’s equity theory to explain an employee’s dissatisfaction at work. Equity theory assumes that employees would always look at what effort other people are putting into their work and what rewards follow them and then compare it to their own efforts and rewards. This social comparison process is driven by people’s concern for fairness and equity. In this regard, the employer (government) is supposed to ensure that employees perceive equity at workplace. For instance, if the teacher compares himself to a particular public sector worker, he should perceive fairness in terms of pay and treatment. This is where the problem of teachers in Ghana comes from. Their employer has not lived up to task.

The year 2015 began with what government termed as “cleansing the payroll system” of ghost names. All well-meaning Ghanaians applauded the idea as it was aimed at correcting our defective system. For teachers, this turned out to be a nightmare, with red fangs and claws ready, to devour us. I say so because this exercise turned out to be only for GES teachers. Every two months, teachers are counted and recounted. Just from January to December we have been counted nine times! This, the government, sees to be the only way to tow in line with the IMF regulation on budget allocation. Woe betides a teacher who misses even just one headcount. Your name would be deleted from the payroll without any due diligence. Yes! Folks, that is the treatment we have been subjected to from January to December this year. Is it not sympathetic? Just recently, the government issued a directive to the effect that teachers are not supposed to collect money from students for extra or remedial classes. This in itself is quite hypocritical. How can your employer dictate what you do after work hours? Has the government interfered in the after work hours of other public sector employees? To even consider that it is this same employer who has been chasing you up and down for your BECE certificates and birth certificate leaves much to be explained. Surely the government of the day has not subjected any other public sector employees to this harassment apart from GES. Now in terms of equity, how is it practiced here?

In as much as onlookers or people who would not want to sound politically aligned would blame the system to an extent, the government of NDC has also played a huge part in the current teacher job dissatisfaction in Ghana. It is the government which came out with no accumulated salary for any teacher. If your salary delays at controller for more than three months, then consider it forfeited. It is this government that brought a multiple headcount system on teachers without any justifiable reason. The results of these careless policies? Teacher absenteeism, turnover and a whole lot of malpractices in the Education service.

Whiles these things are going on, it is surprising to see our unions tight-lipped and cold in reaction. Many of us as well as these unions would even blame the system of GES as the cause of this employee job dissatisfaction. Well I say, the system has come to be the governments doing. In GES, there exist a virtual absence of human resource management. This has existed since Ghana gained independence. Ask the district human resource manager in GES about his HR policies for this academic year and you would know what I talk of. Meanwhile the sole responsibility and measurement of employee job satisfaction lies with the human resource manager. Then if these HR managers in our education service only post and re-post teachers, where can we get that concept of job satisfaction so much talked about?

How come that with all these, nobody in the field of human relations or resources sector of GES can foresee a massive turnover in the years to come? I sound so rhetoric in this write-up because am at loss on what the effects would be. However per the layman knowledge I have on employee job satisfaction, I believe that if care is not taken the GES sector would collapse in say 20years to come.

My suggestions on this issue of teacher job satisfaction are not far-fetched. The government of the day has to carefully analyze its policies on teachers in Ghana before implementing them. With regard to headcounts and getting the actual figure of teaching staff in GES, there need not be cases where teachers are always called to be counted. Is a waste of production time. Proper Human resource inventorying can solve that. Government can always contact the human resource managers of various district education offices for such information. This means that much attention has to be paid to human resource management aspect of GES. Again, the concept of teacher job satisfaction can be a reality in GES if we put in proper human resource management policies with government backing them. Teacher orientation, teacher retraining, and teacher motivation can all play a part despite the everlasting pressure for pay increases among the teaching staff of GES.

To wit, we those who love the job would always do our best despite all this harassment we have been subjected to. However, what about if we are one day presented with opportunities in the other sectors of public service or the private sector. Surely, most of us would run there. This would only be as a result government’s treatment of teachers. Or should I say the system? Over to you, gentlemen and ladies.

Inusah Zanjina 0245613606

Inusah Zanjina
Inusah Zanjina, © 2015

The author has 11 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: InusahZanjina

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