It is worrisome, disheartening, humiliating and very nauseating, the inhumane treatment meted out to basic school teachers in Ghana on a daily basis. Some of these treatments are executed by parents and community members in the form of pouring out verbal abuses on teachers and sometimes, even chasing them in their classrooms to actually brutalize them physically for various reasons considered by those folks as offensive, but which if little patience had been exercised and deliberate attempt taken to investigate carefully into, the right explanation might have been given for such an action taken by a teacher at a particular point in time. After all, doesn’t the Akan adage say that if one takes time to dissect an ant, he would be able to discover all its entrails?
At times, parents and community members could be forgiven for committing such acts since majority of such folks might be illiterates and for that matter, may not know the position of the law concerning such humiliations. It, however, becomes so disgraceful to the teaching profession, and very difficult to forgive, when some of these acts are done by people who should know better such as circuit supervisors and directors of education. The recent episode where a Western regional director of education was reported to have lashed a class two teacher is still struggling to be erased from the minds of basic school teachers.
With the nature of the indelible scar that was created in the minds of teachers by her actions and the kind of disgrace that befell her, one would have thought that other directors of education would have taken a cue from the disgraceful act perpetrated by the above mentioned director; but any such lesson is yet to be learnt as the East – Akim municipal director of education, Mrs. Elizabeth Amankwaah, is the next to come in the news for a similar act perpetrated. Hers is not a physical abuse, but a verbal one; but if you have ever experienced how painful some verbal abuses could be than physical beatings, Mrs. Amankwaah’s own was that type.
Mrs. Amankwaah, who, on Tuesday, 9th January, 2018, the reopening day, happened to tour the basic schools within her jurisdiction, entered the compound of Kibi – Akwadum R/C Basic School, and guess what happened.
When she went to the school, pupils were on assembly grounds preparing to match to their classrooms to begin the day’s lessons. Teachers who had lessons that morning, were at that time, seated at their rather improvised staff common room and eating ostensibly so that they would not waste the instructional time after the morning assembly time as they had the first lessons that morning. The school, which is still begging for properly constructed staff common room for its teachers, makes do with these trees for the mean time. After all, the same people were taught back in the College of Education to improvise unavailable instructional materials and facilities. It is under these trees turned staff common room that the teachers sit to mark their pupils’ exercises, eat and complete all documents supposed to be worked on aside the classroom work of talking and chalking. With the visual imagery having been created, can one fathom what at all could warrant a municipal director of education to look her colleague teachers in the face and gather all the energy within her to actually insult them?
Unexpected of anybody worth the sort of a director of education, Mrs. Amankwaah just alighted from the rather rickety vehicle belonging to the East – Akim municipal directorate of education, and angrily and insolently, as if being propelled by some kind of external force, shouted at the top of her voice as she called the teachers sitting under the trees preparing for the first lessons that morning to stand up and come closer to her where the children had gathered. She then stood in front of these teachers and gushed out unprintable words on them. According to her, the teachers who had no staff common room should explain why they were under the trees. When she was told that there was no staff common room, she answered that the Junior High School (JHS) teachers should sit in the classrooms instead of sitting under the trees. I am yet to see any single JHS in this country where teachers sit in the classrooms while lessons go on. Of much cause for worry was the fact that she actually stood in front of the pupils at the assembly grounds and insulted their teachers, referring to them as block headed teachers who had nothing in their heads and had trained the pupils to be block headed as well. This is just one of the numerous unprintable verbal abuses rained on the teachers like spring gushing out of the surface of the earth. The teachers who had reported to work that morning to do what they love doing best; talking and chalking, were then saddened and their whole day destroyed. The director who toured the schools in the company of the municipal public relations officer (PRO), cared less who was passing by and who was not. It turned out to be a great deal of disgrace and humiliation as she poured out all these insults and acted out all this drama while on – lookers and passer – bys stood and watched as an audience seated in a theatre and watching a performance. As if the incident was limited to the above – named basic school, reports given by teachers in the other schools where she visited was no different. Teachers across the municipality are outraged and demoralized by the director’s action; especially, the bit where she actually insults them in the presence of their students and the gossiping on – lookers. So is this how a profession could be downtrodden?
This is only a smaller representation of the bigger state of affairs regarding the director’s way of dealing with her subordinates in President Akufo-Addo’s home municipality. The director, who is barely a year old in her current office, was transferred from one of the districts in Afram Plains to her current municipality.
I am not for once insinuating that teachers are faultless, or that when teachers do the wrong thing, they shouldn’t be corrected, but should that be done with abusive words, in front of the pupils and at the glare of the gossiping public? Not at all. This is never done anywhere. It will never happen in any other profession apart from teaching. Other professionals accord their colleagues the necessary respect. Even in the teaching profession, it will not even happen in the Senior High School (SHS). Why? Has a decision to become a teacher in Ghana now amounted to offending the nation? This is only a microcosm in a macrocosm. It is representative of the larger state of affairs across basic schools in the country. But the courage to bring it up like this is in itself a problem. For fear of being personalized and antagonised, basic school teachers would rather keep mute and suffer for it than to open it up to face the consequences. Professionalism in the teaching profession is not only about teaching pupils and relating to them in class; but the proper way to relate to co-workers and subordinates at the work place and correct them when they go wrong, also form part of the professionalism bit.
So for how long are basic school teachers going to be spat on and the teaching profession going to be downtrodden in this way? For how long are they going to be treated as rags in gutters? Why can’t the basic school teacher be accorded the respect due him? This phenomenon must stop immediately to forestall a situation where teachers might be fed up one day and decide to react in equal measure.
I urge the minister of Education, director general of Ghana Education Service (GES) and all the necessary stakeholders of education to take the bull by the horn and tackle these issues very well. Once again, let me not be misconstrued; teachers are not angels, they are mortal beings and fallible, but when they go wrong, the proper means should be used to correct them, not the kind of drama that happens across our basic schools in this country. I rest my case.
long live the Ghana Education Service (GES), long live the teaching profession, long live Ghana.