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TALKING DRUM: When teachers run for their lives!

St Johns

“Eii! This [new] teacher will be all knowing oo,” said six year old Perpetual. It was directed at me. Saying this in the Asante Twi dialect made her words more piercing.

There, at class one of a public school at Wamfie – a town on the Berekum-Dormaa road, Perpetual shot her right hand in the air and held it still. One would have (mis)taken her for a miniature of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s statue, at the Arts Centre in Accra, but hers was pointing a little upward.

The teacher in-charge of the class, who was my mentor, had instructed me to give the pupils crayons to colour their drawn work of art. I was on internship from the college of education. The crayons didn’t number up to ten. So, when I went near a pupil’s desk and gave him/her the crayon to colour, I needed to wait and collect it back for other person’s use. This, Perpetual thought I deliberately sidelined her in giving out the crayon.

Like a sledgehammer, her words crushed my spirit for the day.

But my Mentor would console me. She said she had encountered both physical and spiritual attacks [at broad day light] from her pupils and their relatives so I should take heart. “Just these words and you were heartbroken?” she teased, days after.

The work of the teacher may seem lucrative, as people say, because aside all things they have enough time from work. Indeed, it maybe. However, the occupational hazards that at times come with it could be disastrous.

Few days ago, I was saddened hearing that some thugs had thronged the St John’s Basic School at New Town, in Accra, to fish out a teacher to beat her up. That, the teacher in question’s crime was that she had punished their ward in class.

The pupil involved in the St John’s brouhaha, reports say, was not paying attention in class. Her class teacher upon realizing that told her to continue reading a passage from where her [pupil’s] colleague left off.

For being unable to read, the teacher instructed her to kneel down at where she sat and she would later give the pupil some few lashes. The pupil, annoyed by her teacher’s act, walked out of the classroom to return with a battalion of cane and knife-wielding hoodlums. They searched for the teacher.

Speaking on 3FM after the horrible incident, some teachers of the St John’s Basic School who were also maltreated by the thugs expressed worry of what they saw. These teachers asked to be transferred from the school saying they feared of yet another possible attack. After days of their request, they have had their heart desires (transferred).

This transfer did not come with ease. The teachers’ employer, the Ghana Education Service (GES), had told them to go back to the classroom to continue teaching despite the possibility of another attack. Was this not an inhumane directive from the GES? Elsewhere, these teachers would have been given psychologists to psyche them up for them to get over their never-to-be-forgotten experience.

We must congratulate the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) for standing behind these teachers in their hard times. GNAT stood on its grounds calling for provision of security at the school and fought for the teachers to be transferred to where their memories won’t haunt them.

This achievement, I think, has already been recorded in the archives of GNAT. As a people, there are a number of lessons to be learnt from this whole incident. In the subsequent lines, I share two with you.

Among Jesus’ twelve disciplines was Judas. So, I will not be surprised if among the good number of teachers out there, there are some bad nuts. Nonetheless, I personally see no reason for even the bad nuts within the teaching profession to wish the downfall of their students. For what gain?

A teacher’s attempt to correct our children may go wrong, which was not even the case of the issue at hand. If it happens for such a corrective measure to go wrong, it is never appropriate for the student’s relatives to attack such a teacher with weapons. The law court must be handling our grievances. Or, what do you think?

Also, the GES and other employers must not always think of their own good to the detriment of their employees. It was absolutely unreasonable for GES to push the teachers back to the classroom when they [GES] had not put in place security measures to protect the teachers. Man has but one chance to live and such life must be valued.

The Ghana Police must be commended for its attempt to bring these thugs to book. We can only wish the police well to pursue this case of thuggery to its logical conclusion.

I wish the transferred teachers well, too, at their new schools and I pray for a peaceful co-existence between parents and teachers nationwide.

By Solomon Mensah|3FM|3news.com

The writer is a broadcast journalist with 3FM. This piece remains solely his opinion and not that of his media organization.

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