Statesman Leader: Let’s resolve this strike so that our children can end the term in peace Featured

By by Chris Lartey December 11, 2019 4030 1304 comments

Teachers are historically patriots and role models. In colonial times, they assisted chiefs in local governance. They were invariably opinion leaders for communities, particularly in remote parts of the country. They were lay preachers, catechists and amanuenses who supported local missionary work.

All of a sudden, in democratic Ghana, some of them are becoming so political that they think they can even hold the nation to ransom, citing union laws and solidarity with colleague teachers over delayed payment of salary arrears that are sure to come anyway.

Growing pains

But these are growing pains – just one example of the democratic quarrels that we Ghanaians, and the rest of the civilised world, will have to live with until the end of human existence.

Of course, one recognises teachers’ contribution to the development of democracy, and particularly their role in providing quality support for national exercises such as registration and training of polling agents, public information campaigns, as well as voter education during elections.

Equally, we recognise their contribution to the development of civil society.

So, we must strive to engage with even the most disgruntled discontents within their ranks and find out what really their complaint is at this crucial moment in the school calendar.

Absence of trust

That is why we support the move by the Minister of Education, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, to open up on the dispute and enable the necessary, civilised engagement which will resolve the impasse and return the poor children to the classroom to complete their term in peace.

According to the Ministry of Education, it will continue to engage the leadership of the three teachers’ unions which are on strike over delays in payment of salary arrears dating back to the period 2012 to 2016.

It is rather sad that some of the leaders of the teachers’ unions say they no longer trust the very people who have to spearhead the engagements to resolve the dispute.

Dialogue is critical

We know that at such critical moments, the chief contestants in the fray often throw tantrums and engage in excesses. Much the same as the striking worker, the politician may be culpable. Each may have an agenda dictated by his position on the matter.

Ultimately, however, we must be willing to put Ghana, and particularly the interest of the poor schoolchild, first.

That is why we urge the teachers to soften their stance as politicians make efforts to resolve the matter amicably, so that our children do not suffer too greatly in the circumstances.

As both sides will agree, it is only through dialogue that we can find the common solutions which will enable our children to complete their academic term in peace.

Softer positions

As the striking teachers will concede, the delayed payment of their arrears is a carry-over from the previous government.

Moreover, huge numbers of teachers have been recruited by the present government since 2017, which naturally has increased the state’s financial commitment to Ghanaian education.

Thankfully, that fact is not being contested by anyone. We believe it offers sufficient reason for the teachers to soften their stance as the matter is gradually resolved.

The “tsoo boi” solidarity should give way to “ɛyɛ”. All of us in Ghana must focus on the future and the benefits for our children of the work we do today.

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