Most teachers woke up on July 10, 2021 to hear one of the most shocking statement on their profession. This came from no one than the president of Ghana, Nana Akuffo Addo. The statement deemed shocking by most Ghanaians in the teaching profession is quoted below:
"Teaching is sacrificial service, it is not meant to make you millionaires".
The above statement has set many tongues wagging. Some factions have branded the president as unsympathetic to the plights of the average Ghanaian teacher. Others have justified the president's comments, pointing out the fact that the president was only echoing what all Ghanaians know to be the truth about the profession. From one perspective, the president's statement can be deemed as good advice for the following reasons:
1. Ghanaian teachers salaries are very low compared to other professions: The Ghanaian teacher takes an average salary ranging from GHS 1,000 to GHS 1,500. This is very low, especially if you stay in urban areas like Accra, where cost of living is very high. The average teacher may not be able to rent standard accommodation in Accra due to his monthly salary. The average Ghanaian teacher will likely have a nil savings at the end of each year.
2. Government is not in a position to pay higher salaries due to the number of teachers in the public sector: As at the end of 2019, Ghana had over 160,000 teachers at the primary level alone and over 180,000 at the secondary school level. This means that every GHS 1.00 increase in the salaries of teachers will result in at least GHS 340,000 increase in the public wage bill. This makes it difficult for successive governments to significantly increase salaries of teachers.
3. Teachers close earlier than other professions, giving them enough time to do other jobs: Barring any contingencies, the Ghanaian teacher closes between 2pm to 3pm. This gives teachers some amount of idle time to do part-time jobs. For instance, some male teachers work as Uber drivers when they close from their work. Others take up part-time jobs such providing extra tuition for selected students at a fee.
On the other hand, Nana Addo's comment can be deemed as derogatory mainly because of his position as a president of Ghana. It is common knowledge that a Ghanaian can not accumulate wealth by pursuing the teaching profession. However, the fact is they still pursue it anyway; whether due to passion or due to the lack of options. The government should therefore commend teachers and make better efforts to help improve their living conditions, rather than making them regret the decision they took to teach.
My advice to the president is to apologize to Ghanaian teachers on the statement he made. On the other hand, the Ghanaian teachers should also take some positives in the statement and look for profitable ventures to invest the few free extra hours they get each day as a result of their profession as a teacher.