Do not make a mistake; the leave period of the Ghanaian teacher never coincides with the vacation period of students as some people want to make us believe. To even insinuate this is tantamount to insulting the intelligence of the  teacher in the first place. The truth of the matter is that the Ghanaian teacher never enjoys any annual leave throughout his/her working period.

Worthy of note is the fact that teachers are the only professionals whose houses serve as appendages to their places of work. The working time of the teacher is enviously dedicated to teaching and marking of exercises and class tests. But those are only a tip of the iceberg when it comes to their responsibilities as teachers. They embark on research, prepare weekly scheme of work, prepare daily lesson plan, set questions for class exercises, home assignments, project works, class tests, and ultimately, terminal exams. Furthermore, teachers engage in extra-curricular activities such as sports, culture and so on (which are normally done beyond the working hours of the teacher). It is very important to recognize that  none of the above-mentioned exercises can be performed while at the place of work. This huge chunk of work is carried home and executed, but it is not as if any additional working hour allowance is earned by members of the talking and chalking fraternity. If I am not mistaking, no other professional does this apart from the teacher.

It, therefore, comes as erroneous for anybody to think that the teacher’s resting period coincides with the vacation periods of students. In other words, the message this misconstrual seeks to project is that if students were not enjoying vacation, the teacher would never have any form of rest. And what did I even mention – rest? Can this be called rest? Not at all. How can it be while the teacher uses this same vacation period to carry out the battalion of work that is brought home? Is it not the same vacation period which teachers use to mark the examination scripts of their students? Consider, especially, the Senior High Schools and even the Basic Schools which have very high enrollment levels. Has it ever crossed minds how and when teachers of these schools mark the bulky examination scripts and enter marks into students’ report cards? Has it ever occurred to anyone to inquire how teachers are bombarded with calls to submit students’ marks for preparation of report cards during this same vacation period? So about three quarters of the vacation period is used for marking, while the remainder is used on research work and the preparation of curriculum materials for the succeeding term, and you call this leave for the teacher?  The teacher, indeed, does not have a period of rest. 

It may interest you to learn that some Education Directorates actually capitalize on this “no leave” situation of teachers, and force them to hold vacation classes for the final year students. It is so annoying that after teachers have worked throughout the term, the best way to inform them to organize these classes is not even by appeal and persuasions, but by coercion. The unfortunate aspect of it is that any little opposition to this form of coercion is met with a rather unfavourable statement; “vacation periods are meant for students, and not for teachers.” But how can anybody even be blamed for making the aforementioned statement? After all, the teacher has no leave period.

Did you even know that the number of days one spends in an annual leave depends on one’s rank as a worker? For those who equate students’ vacation to teachers’ annual leave, where can this be placed in the scheme of affairs regarding the variety of ranks possessed by various teachers?

It is against this backdrop that the President of the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), Mr. Eric Angel Carbonu, on Thursday, 6th June, 2019, requested the Ghana Education Service (GES) to determine the official leave period of the Ghanaian teacher. Speaking in an interview, Mr. Carbonu, on Joy News TV, bemoaned the various injustices meted out to teachers. He interrogated a variety of issues including, according to him, the fact that teachers do not even know their correct salary levels. He lamented the unsafe bottlenecks associated with the processes leading to a teacher’s promotion. Mr. Carbonu also seized the opportunity provided by the Multimedia platform, to catalogue the problems associated with the implementation of the Free SHS Policy, and implored the GES to address same. The part of his delivery that necessitated this write-up was a statement to the effect that he had never enjoyed an annual leave ever since he became a teacher, and indeed, no teacher ever has.

I wish to add my voice to the call by Mr. Carbonu for the GES to see to the plight of teachers and address them satisfactorily. Indeed, the barrage of problems that have taken their seats within the educational set up would be half solved if such plights were painstakingly attended to. Long live the teaching profession, long live GES, long live Ghana.
Felix Nyarko Acheampong reports for GhanaEducate.com.

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