I researched archived documents and had discussions with surviving retired teachers, MPs and seasoned academics who knew about Kwame Nkrumah’s regime, such as Professor Ivan Addae Mensah, former politician and former vice-chancellor from the University of Ghana. The following revelations, drawn from my interactions with them, deserve to be articulated to shape our discourse on the conditions of service of the Ghanaian teacher today.
Prior to independence in 1951, until the end of the First Republic, university professors were seen as essential to producing a critical mass of nation builders for Ghana. They were therefore among the highest paid civil servants in Ghana. Salaries of lecturers in Ghana were similar to their counterparts in the UK. For example, a lecturer was paid Â£ 1,040 per year while a Member of Parliament received Â£ 960 per year.
Lecturers were paid around Â£ 1,350 per year, while deputy ministers were paid Â£ 1,200 per year. However, faculty members were paid more than ministers, with the former receiving between Â£ 1,600 and Â£ 2,100 while the latter were paid around Â£ 1,450.
Teachers and principals of secondary schools were paid so well that even government appointees enjoyed serving as principals. For example, Chapman Nyaho, Cabinet Secretary and Ghanaian Ambassador to the United States, was prepared to accept an appointment as Principal of the Achimota School. Isaac Chinebuah, Senior Lecturer in the Linguistics Department at the University of Ghana, has also agreed to teach and become Principal of the Achimota School. In addition, MEA Haizel, father of the former University of Ghana Clerk, who worked in the African Studies Department at the University of Ghana, accepted an appointment as the head of the Achimota School.
Nkrumah’s government has been frugal in the use of public resources and channeled money into areas, like education, that really require the motivation to build the country’s labor base. Nkrumah ensured that only civil servants, doctors and judges were allocated government bungalows to reduce costs and ensure sufficient resources to adequately pay teachers.
All politicians and ministers bought their own cars, rented and paid for their own accommodation. When Nkrumah later built estates, appointees and politicians who could afford them bought estates for themselves without any government loan guarantees.
In addition to cutting costs and saving enough to be able to pay adequate compensation, Nkrumah’s decision not to allocate government bungalows to politicians, especially parliamentarians, was based on his belief that “MPs’ homes are in their hands. constituencies. They are foreigners in Accra and should only have temporary accommodation. This belief was to require MPs to travel to their homes and visit their constituents frequently to ensure effective representation. So, for example, the Abavana junction around Accra New Town was named after Mr. R. Abavana, MP for Navrongo and Minister of Education under Nkrumah, who lived in his own house. Nkrumah himself lived in a rented apartment around Accra New Town until he moved to the castle around 1959.
Immediately after the overthrow of Nkrumah, successive governments, both military and civilian, resorted to salary increases and improvements in conditions of service for politicians without doing the same for teachers. In particular, the various military regimes recruited young civilians who had never worked before, fresh out of school, to serve in their government. These named youths were given state bungalows, vehicles, and many other incentives and terms of service because they were young and had nothing. Successive civil governments have continued this practice to the negligence of the teacher.
It must be reiterated that both the colonial government and Nkrumah valued the teachers and paid them more than the politician to ensure quality production of human resources and nation builders. How teachers fared back then in terms of status in society is still remembered by those who lived at the time. Their production was also top notch as they had all the incentives and recognition to allow them to make a decent living.
Unfortunately, since the overthrow of Nkrumah, subsequent regimes have had no idea of ââthe value of a motivated teacher in nation building. President Akufo-Addo recently made an unfortunate remark that no one goes into education and expects to be a millionaire. This is a fundamental misrepresentation of historical facts. The teachers were well paid and could afford to buy their own luxury vehicles and build their mansions. If today people who are entering education cannot hope to become millionaires, can they?
Isn’t he the politician? Politicians who value nation building beyond mere rhetoric, and those interested in leaving a good legacy after their terms of government expire, should, after reading this article, quickly turn back the clock. to learn how colonial masters and Nkrumah valued teachers over politicians. They should also take inspiration from German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s point of view that you cannot pay politicians more than those who taught them.
PAV Ansah Street
Suro Nipa House