By: Muhammed Y. Darboe.
The common adage ‘No one can pay a teacher’, is indeed the beginning of falsehood. Disregard the semantics when the hidden meaning is clearly compromised for the raw text. Henceforth, I am using Reward not Pay. No one can reward a teacher except almighty God. Legit.
In our life, Teaching must be regarded as a payable job because teachers have families to feed and a life to live like their counterparts in other professions. Pay a labourer before his sweat dries. The government should pay its workers, and treat them fairly. Teachers, Nurses and Public Health Officers.
I have always heard students of economics talking about scale of preferences. I am not a student of economics but I understand how itemized preferences work. It is a pick and choose system from a variety of choices. Similarly, the government was honest to the teachers in the recently approved pay scale of civil servants. After a long period of suffering and disregard, they have presented a pay scale which only revealed the value and status scales of teachers in the government’s scale of preferences.
As far as I know, there is no discrepancy in the intention and presentation of data in the approved pay scale. It is a revelation that the teaching job can only attract peanuts as remuneration. The government thinks teachers with a degree, most of whom also acquired HTC, should be given lesser grading as compared to a graduate nurse. That SEN, CHN are placed on grade 7 while HTC and PTC are placed on grades 5 and 4 respectively. A graduate RN nurse is placed on grade 9 which is far above the grade for a graduate teacher who is placed on grade 6. Even a prison warden is more remunerated than a HTC holder. This shows gross disparities on the status of teachers and their sister professions. But very well, an ordinary health official has always earned far beyond most senior teachers. It is more of an incorporation into the system for a fair understanding. Technically, the entire grading structure of teachers have been relegated downwards such that the bogus salary increment may only appear as a glittering aluminum in the midst of gold. That’s the value scale of teachers in the eyes of the government.
There was an old friend of mine who was so obsessed about me being a teacher. I hate it whenever he proudly introduced me to people with a teacher tittle. To me, that’s a stumbling block for many potential marriages, including mine. ‘Who marries a teacher in this—a world of vanity?’, I often murmured. And since this cannot continue to happen, I decided to reveal my utter dissatisfaction to him regarding his introduction. That was the opener for a long discussion.
According to the old man, a teacher is an undying legend. His contributions remain even when he dies. His soul lives. His name lives. His great impacts live on. That’s the invincible immortal spirit banked on by philosophical teachers since the times of Socrates, Aristotle, and many more. After that first submission, I smiled. I remember my assignment on philosophy of Education and on a number of times, I had quoted those philosophers. I remember the time we spend in the classroom arguing about the different schools of thought. My old friend was right – teachers are immortal.
Then came his argument about prestige, honour and respect. The old man still lives in a century of imagination. May be it is only realistic in the existential world of yesteryears. He made a sober recollection of how teachers were respected by communities and their students. How the teaching job was highly valued and respected. In those days, teachers were scarce. They were rare commodities – honored and loved by everyone. Humble and caring. Hardworking and patient. You can enumerate more pair words illuminating service and character. They were still not paid a very fat salary but the environment was more conducive to live within their means.
Conversely, the teaching profession of present day is regarded as a stepping stone for good fortune seekers. The passion in teaching profession is diminishing. No development prospects. No benefits. People go into the teaching field to earn a hard experience in preparation of a lucrative future endeavour. Teachers are involved in all types of jobs in order to subsidise the chicken change received at the end of a long and frustrating month. You only receive a better lift up in renumeration if only you choose to go for a hardship zone. So we must suffer to get such a reward. Even the name of the allowance is discriminatory. Hardship Allowance!
This is the truth and it must be said as it should be said. No to exploitation of teachers.