Re – Salaries and conditions of service of teachers: a historical note

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No doubt, there are problems in Ghana. Elected leaders must organize and coordinate Citizens to find solutions. Citizens also have a duty to ‘push’ leaders into creating the necessary environment for dialogue aimed at solutions. Amidst the many challenges, are perennial labour unrests. No well-meaning Ghanaian can jubilate over the tight corner the Akufo-Addo led administration finds itself. It is, I hope, in the light of this, that Yaw Gyampo wrote his article titled: ‘Salaries and Conditions of Service of Teachers – A Historical Note’.

I find the article however as misconceived in its character and tone which must not be left unanswered. First, the piece fails to disclose the so called “archived documents” from which “revelations” as it purports were “gleaned”. Neither does the 10-paragraphed piece serve “a historical note” as purported. This rejoinder attempts to demonstrate how misconceived and unfounded most of the claims in the failing ‘Epistle of History’ of Yaw Gyampo are.

 

Secondly, salary differentials and the unfairness in backdating increases for Article 71 Office Holders while that of others only take progressive effect, is in the least, nauseating. The Ntiamoa-Baidu Committee Report bemoans this inequity despite failing to boldly act against it (pp.27&38). No matter how despicable, the resultant labour agitations in a pandemic calls for patience in deliberations. The stoking of fire with fabrications, tales and exaggerations does not help. In Addae-Mensah (2016) on page 114, the late President Dr Hilla Limann under similar circumstances is quoted as follows:

“I have on many occasions emphasized that our salvation lies in our own hands and through hard work. No soldier, indeed no politician, has any instant solution to our multi-faceted and desperate problems. We need peace and stability to implement our programmes and rescue our country from destruction. Provocative actions and incitement can only sap our efforts which should otherwise be directed towards more useful activities.”

Gyampo’s claims

For the avoidance of doubt, I shall quote the claims of Yaw Gyampo stricto sensu and follow each issue with a response in letter numbered paragraphs to differentiate his figure labelled ones. Fasten your seat belts for take-off.

“1. I have searched archived documents and held discussions with some surviving retired teachers, Members of Parliament and seasoned academics who experienced the regime of Kwame Nkrumah, such as Prof Ivan Addae Mensah, former politician and former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana. The following revelations, gleaned from my interactions with them, are worth articulating to shape our discourse on the conditions of service of the Ghanaian teacher today.”

  1. Save the mention of the revered and venerable Emeritus Professor of Chemistry and former General Secretary of the defunct and/or proscribed People’s National Party, PNP, Ivan Addae-Mensah, Yaw Gyampo of Saltpond and Larteh-Akuapim discloses no specific “archived documents”, “surviving retired teachers, Members of Parliament and seasoned academics” from which and/or whom his “insightful article” “gleaned” the views shared. I provide the following documentary sources and recommend them to interested persons:
  2. Fred Kwasi Apaloo, Chairman, Report of the Commission to Enquire into the Kwame Nkrumah Properties (Accra-Tema, I966), pp.11, 14-15.
  3. S. Azu Crabbe, Chairman, Report of the Commission to Enquire into the Affairs of NADECO Limited (Accra-Tema, I966), pp. 13-14 & 44.

iii. N. A. Ollennu, Chairman, Report of the Commission of Enquiry into Irregularities and Malpractices in the Grant of Import Licences (Accra-Tema, I966), p.13.

  1. Annie Ruth Jiagge, Chairman, Report of the Commission to Enquire into the Assets of Specified Persons (Accra, 1966), pp. 252, 293 &3 11.
  2. Kwame Nkrumah, Dark Days in Ghana, (London, Lawrence and Wishart, 1968), pp. 38-39.
  3. Republic of Ghana Parliament, Parliamentary Hansard (February 15 – 17, 1966), columns 437-495.

vii. Ntiamoa-Baidu, Chairman, Report of the Presidential Committee on the Emoluments of Article 71 Office Holders (June, 2020), pp. 27-38.

 

“2. Prior to independence in 1951, up to the end of the First Republic, University Teachers were valued as crucial in producing a critical mass of nation builders for Ghana. They were, therefore, among the highly paid Public Servants in Ghana. The salaries of lecturers in Ghana were similar to those of their counterparts in the UK. A Lecturer was paid a sum of £1,040 per annum while a Member of Parliament received £960 per annum.”

  1. Save the fact that “in the First Republic, University Teachers were valued as crucial in producing a critical mass of nation builders for Ghana” and were “among the highly paid Public Servants in Ghana” the article fails to disclose how the present situations differs. On the 25 scaled SSSS, lecturers are placed from L20 and L22 for non-PhD and PhD respectively. Educational qualification alone places them higher than most public workers. University teachers are also entitled to allowances that include housing and vehicles. Admittedly, “the pay differential between public service workers on the SSSS and Article 71 Office Holders is widening and growing” which ought to be addressed as observed by the Professor Ntiamoa-Baidu Committee (p.38).
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b.i. Without providing exact date, I find the claim that “a Lecturer was paid a sum of £1,040 per annum while a Member of Parliament received £960 per annum”, as not only vague but unsubstantiated. It has been stated however that “a member of Parliament was getting a housing allowance in addition to his salary of £1,500 per annum” (February 15, 1966 Hansard, Column 495). MPs who doubled as Ministers received more. Mr. K. A. Gbedamah, for example, received as basic salary at the lowest, £2,239 in 1951 and at most, £3,000 in 1960. He was also entitled to Housing and Basic Allowances from 1955 and 1960 respectively at £600 and £1200 (Jiagge Report, p.252).

“3. Senior Lecturers were paid around £1,350 per annum while Deputy Ministers received around £1,200 per annum. Members of the Professorial ranks were paid more than Ministers, with the former receiving between £1,600 and 2,100 while the latter were paid around £1,450.”

  1. Without more, the claim in paragraph 3 is evidently false if the salaries, allowances, and other entitlements of Messrs KA Gbedemah, Kofi Baako, Henry Sony Togbor Provencal, Tawiah Adamafio, Andrews Kwabla Puplampu, Bartholomew Ebassuah Kwaw-Swanzy, are considered as in the Annie Jiagge Commission Report as demonstrated above in paragraphs b and b.i.

 

“4. Teachers and heads of secondary schools were paid so well that even government appointees took delight in serving as head teachers. For instance, Chapman Nyaho, a Secretary to Cabinet and Ghana’s Ambassador to the US, was willing to accept appointment as Headmaster of Achimota School. Isaac Chinebuah, a Senior Lecturer at the Linguistics Department of the University of Ghana, also accepted to teach and, subsequently, become head at the Achimota School. Also, Mr EA Haizel, father of the immediate past Registrar of the University of Ghana, who was with the African Studies Department of the University of Ghana, accepted an appointment as head of the Achimota School.”

  1. Without more, paragraph 4 is suggestive that teachers were paid better than Members of Parliament and Ministers of State. That could not be true. The evidence does not support the claim. On the contrary, it must be stated that a lot of the Members of Parliament, Ministers and Deputy Ministers including the Prime Minister, Kwame Nkrumah were teachers. Therefore, going back to the classroom when they lost their seats or were no longer given appointments, they so desired, could not be an issue of preference. There was also a deliberate policy to have some of the persons mentioned at the helm.

 

“5. The Nkrumah Government was frugal in the use of public resources and channelled money to areas, like Teaching, that really require the motivation necessary for building the manpower base of the country. To cut cost and ensure enough resources to adequately remunerate teachers, Nkrumah ensured that only civil servants, medical doctors and judges were allocated government bungalows.”

  1. Delicate and slippery to be as emphatic as claiming and attributing piety to the Nkrumah regime. But more importantly this is palpably false. Ministers were accommodated in Government Bungalows. Till 1959, when he moved into a ‘hire-purchase’ house at Labone, the Honourable Kofi Baako for example, lived in a Government Bungalow at Ridge, now National Intelligence Bureau, NIB as Defence Minister. Other Government facilitated houses were later built at Kaneshie, Ringway Estates where Imoro Egala lived and Kanda where the fathers of the Vice-President Bawumia and former President Mahama had their houses. The Continental and Ambassador (now Movenpick) hotels also accommodated MPs at State cost. Later, through the Ghana Housing Corporation (1955), provision was made for them to ‘hire-purchase’ houses built by the State (February 15, 1966 Hansard, Column 484).

“6. All politicians and ministers bought their own cars, hired and paid for their own accommodation. When Nkrumah later built estates, appointees and politicians who could afford them, purchased some for themselves without any loan guarantee by the government.”

  1. Again this claim is unsubstantiated. The facts in “e” above applies. Indeed, the State bought vehicles and such transactions became grounds to accuse the Nkrumah administration of corruption (Apaloo Report, p.52). As Nkrumah himself notes in the Dark Days in Ghana, page 38:3; “By independence, crime had become a real problem in Ghana where many transactions such as cocoa buying are conducted in cash and where import quantities of constructional material and the like provides a ready market for the thief. Further and even more important, I was faced with the problem of financial corruption and a well-organized Fraud Division in the Police was essential if this was to be held in check.”

 

“7. Apart from cutting cost and saving enough to be able to pay adequate compensation, Nkrumah’s decision not to allocate government bungalows to politicians, particularly Parliamentarians, was premised on his belief that “the homes of the MPs are in their constituencies. They are strangers in Accra and must have only temporal accommodation.” This belief was to compel MPs to go to their homes and visit their constituents frequently to ensure effective representation. Abavana junction around Accra New Town was named after Mr M.R Abavana, an MP for Navrongo and Minister of Education under Nkrumah who lived in his own house. Nkrumah himself lived at a rented apartment around Accra New Town until he moved to the Castle around 1959.”

  1. Save the mention of Abavana Junction which indeed is named after an MP for Navrongo who indeed lived in that area, the “yet-to-be-independent-Ghana” had no option. The Country was in the forming and had no elected MPs until the 1951 elections to have had accommodation in wait. As argued in “e” above, the State provided and paid for such privately secured accommodation. MPs were housed at State cost including housing them in hotels. Later the State facilitated the ‘hire-purchase’ of houses by MPs (February 15, 1966 Hansard, Column 483-484). Ministers lived in Government Bungalows as argued in paragraph “e” supra.
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“8. Immediately after the overthrow of Nkrumah, successive governments, both military and civilians resorted to salary increment and improvement in the conditions of service of politicians without doing same for teachers. In particular, the various military regimes recruited young civilians who had not worked before, fresh from school, to serve in their government. These young appointees were given state bungalows, vehicles and many other incentives and conditions of service because they were young and had nothing. Successive civilian governments have continued this practice to the neglect of the teacher.”

  1. The attack on successive governments as doing nothing for teachers is the most unfair and unresearched. In 2007 President Kufuor established the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission, (Act 737) following the Single Spine Salary Structure to deal with salary differentials. The effort was to reward equitably, for same work done with associated risks by same ranked/graded officials across sectors. Teachers from basic school to tertiary institutions testify to its equity and use it as reference point for demands. In fact, Professors Charles Marfo of KNUST cum UTAG President and Ransford Gyampo of UG referred to the non-adherence and non-enforcement of the SSSS as the basis for the UTAG demands (Peacefm Kokrokoo 11-8-2021). Did President Kufuor precede President Nkrumah? Indeed, but for the 2009 suspension of the full SSSS implementation by the late Professor JEA Mills and the subsequent IMF induced renegotiated Interim Market Premium for Lecturers in 2014, the initiative was lauded. In that renegotiation, UTAG cannot be free of blame.

 

“9. It must be reiterated that, the reason why both the colonial government and Nkrumah valued Teachers, and paid them more than the politician, was to guarantee quality production of manpower resources and nation-builders. How teachers fared at the time, in terms of status in society is still remembered by those who lived at the time. Their output was also top-notch because they had all the incentives and recognition to enable them enjoy decent living.”

  1. Thus far, it has been established and cannot be true that the “colonial masters and Nkrumah valued Teachers and paid them more than the politicians…” Comparing the place of teachers today to those of the early formations stages of Ghana is out of place. The Waugh Commission Report, 1957 at paragraphs 1 and 24 was emphatic that Government was “unwilling” to create “privileged” classes. Of course, Dr Nkrumah had an all-inclusive approach to governance. As a politician and an academic/teacher himself, he was balanced. That notwithstanding, University Lecturers under Nkrumah had their own issues with his administration. Indeed, the standoffs led to an eventual eviction of his name in 1966 from the Academy of Arts and Sciences and reinstated in 2003. Emeritus Professor of Classics, Alexander Kwapong in the maiden Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Lecture on November 21, 2003 recalled, “the Academy’s fractured relations with its founder, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, ever since the Academy resolved to terminate Nkrumah’s Fellowship and remove him from the Presidency of the Academy.”

 

“10. Regrettably, subsequent regimes, since the overthrow of Nkrumah, have had no clue about the value of a motivated teacher towards nation building. President Akufo-Addo recently made an unfortunate remark that no one goes into teaching and expect to be a millionaire. This is a fundamental mis-statement of historical fact. Teachers were well paid and could afford to buy their own luxury vehicles and build their mansions. If today, people who go into teaching cannot hope to become millionaires, na who cause am?  Isn’t it the politician? Politicians who value nation building beyond mere rhetoric, and those who are interested in leaving behind a good legacy after the expiration of their mandate to govern, must, after reading this piece, quickly go back to learn from how the colonial masters and Nkrumah placed value on teachers over politicians. They must also take a cue from the German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s view that you cannot pay politicians more than the ones who taught them.”

  1. The argument in “h” supra deals with the first part of paragraph 10 and the intemperate language cannot change the narrative. There are many academic politicians and statements that seek to belittle politicians must be avoided. The selective and convenient attack on President Akufo-Addo as saying “no one goes into teaching and expect to be a millionaire” is most unfair. The President in the raw audio praised the contribution of teachers to nation building and among other things, said;
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“…. that is the Service that you continue to render to all of us and the nation have to be grateful to you for the sacrifice involved in teaching especially when you look at the conditions of service, (amidst giggling) not necessarily all that you desire. Nevertheless, I don’t think that anywhere in the world people go into teaching and expect to become millionaire or make money. You do other things when you join teaching because you want to make a contribution to the welfare of society.”

 

Yet Yaw Gyampo conveniently picks and twists the words of the President for his ends. Even in mischief making one must be fair to the facts to be credible. It would have been interesting to read citations of teachers anywhere in the world who have made millions out of teaching. Indeed, as the President rightly pointed out, the teacher’s delight is in the number of students or pupils who successfully pass through his/her hands. There are other enterprising teachers who make fortunes by going into further research and publications. The sales and awards that proceed from such ventures cannot be attributed to teaching. Ghana needs more of such adventuring lecturers to break away from the dependence on products from overseas. Our scientists must be daring and Government must be seen investing in research but not only paying salaries.

There are longstanding issues that Ghana is bedevilled with, like any nation in the world. We are in extraordinary times, new to all the peoples of the world. We have a responsibility to find middle ground. Managing our delicate human relations requires sober heads at all fronts. Those who take delight in rabble rousing should take heed that nothing progressive has ever been achieved in violence. Divergent views must be tolerated. We can win together. Let the Government act right, to do right to the Citizenry and acquit Itself in honour.

There are many distortions in the conversations around public issues. It is of utmost importance to stem the tide of falsehood engendered dialogue. If the wrong standards are set, not the best of efforts will ever measure right. There is therefore the need for circumspection, sincerity, transparency and tolerance in unravelling the many self-inflicted recurrent problems. We can win. We must win for Ghana. This is our homeland to which we must genuinely pledge “loyalty to a higher calling” – of truth, not lies; love, patriotism, hard work and the fear of God.

Chief Justice John Roberts of the United States recently remarked; “COVID-19 has pierced through our illusions of certainty and control. It has taught us that we are not in charge. Someone else is. Let’s be sober.” The impasse involving sectors of Labour and Government with the arbiter, National Labour Commission losing its independence and trust among Labour requires sober, deliberate and sincere reflections aimed at consensus building. Gladly, we have made progress with the call off of the strike by UTAG. I am happy as a student. What worked must be applied in similar fashion to all other concerns.

To conclude this rejoinder, I wish to quote two great leaders of two great nations of the world. Benjamin Franklin (1787) said; “living as long as I have, I’ve come to the conclusion that we must all, at times, doubt our own infallibility.” Kwame Nkrumah (1968) also said; “Those who would judge us merely by the heights we have achieved would do well to remember the depths from which we started.” We have a nation to build. Let leadership show the way and all others follow conscientiously. Let none be left behind or jump ahead.

 

The writer is the Managing Editor of The National Forum, TNF newspaper and a Research Student at the School for Development Studies, UCC.

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