I have made a few references to my “Booklet for Teachers”. This is an 8 page A5 leaflet that is now in the hands of all teachers in the District. Production was funded by friends from home and money has never been better spent according to officers and headteachers alike. The Director carries a few around and distributes them like Business Cards. I’m sure it will be cloned around Ghana, which is all to the good.
Local headteachers and I wrote it in July in response to various grumblings about the failings of teachers on their staff teams. It appears there is nothing written that tells a teacher what they should do in their role. It is basic stuff and you might imagine, doesn’t need to be said. You would be wrong! Here are a couple of excerpts……..
Teachers provide role models for their pupils and are expected to behave in a professional manner at all times whilst on education premises. As good role models they will not smoke, shout, drink alcohol or be under the influence in the classroom. Their behaviour and dress will give good
examples to pupils in the community. Kindly, with respect, avoid “Oto Fister & “I’m aware”.
( Oto Fister was a coach to the Ghana Black Stars, football team and was the first man here to wear his trousers below his hips! I’m aware, is directed at women who show too much cleavage or midriff.)
Teachers should accept that they are there for the education and welfare of pupils throughout the school opening hours. Nobody should be engaging in personal conversations, activities or transactions during instructional hours. This includes phone calls and the playing of music.
Teachers must be fair to all pupils. Pupils should be treated equally including fairness in examinations. There must be no malpractice or leaking of questions to anyone.
Staff must be fair and firm in dealing with pupils. Caning is discouraged, will only be administered by the headteacher and recorded in the Punishment Book.
Teachers must make sure they do not have sexual relationships with any pupil. This is illegal and a very serious issue. Sexual relationship issues must not be settled outside court.
Many teachers carry a stick throughout the day. In many cases it is a threat. The pupils don’t appear particularly threatened by canes. Indeed, they rather expect them and treat a caning as we would a “missed playtime”! Is it all just about what you are used to? The Director wrote the “caning” sentence. I told her if I wrote it, it would read quite differently!
I recall the many “Victorian Days” I have experienced over the years in aid of primary school history projects. Teachers walk around with a “cane” in their hands and the children are pleading with her to cane them. The mock punishments elicit great excitement and everyone wants a go!
When I have introduced this booklet to various groups, there have been comments about the sentence above. When I tell them I would have lost my job if I had ever hit a child, they laugh in amazement and disbelief. “The African child cannot be controlled without the cane”, is a response I have heard often. They cannot believe we manage that in England and probably believe we have some alternative powers to achieve it. I suppose they are correct. The “powers” are called, self discipline, mutual respect, pupil accountability, positive focus on learning, pride and consistent approaches to discipline, to name a few. These things take a long time to develop but you have to want to achieve them. I wonder whether this will ever change in Ghana? The roots of this change are very deep in the culture and would herald all sorts of behaviour developments amongst adults too. If you saw the frequent incidents of “domestic violence” that make people laugh on TV soaps, you would know what I meant.