|The Importance of Posting in Becoming a Teacher in Ghana (CIE, 2000, 46 p.)|
In February and March 2000 I returned to Central Region in order to trace the teachers involved in the study and, where possible, to re-interview and observe them. I also interviewed respondents in GES, or in a number of cases their replacements, and discussed drafts of this article with key Ghanaian informants and colleagues. A number of things emerged to clarify the picture of posting.
There were 23 newly trained teachers at the core of the study: 8 women and 15 men. Selection was based on which college they had studied at and was aimed at achieving a balanced sample between men and women, rural and urban teachers, but was otherwise random. 5 of the teachers had graduated in 1997 and of those 3 had transferred from remote to semi-urban schools after the first year. Out of 8 women, 3 had had babies within the first two years of teaching and one of them had obtained a transfer to a district office desk job nearer her husband's place of work. 8/17 (almost 50% of teachers posted to rural and remote schools) were transferred or released during or at the end of their first year in post. Also, of the 8 women, 4 were posted to rural schools and only one stayed longer than one year. One of the 1997 teachers transferred from a remote to a semi urban school at the end of his first year, and, after one more year, has been given study leave and is in Winneba furthering his studies. All the teachers posted initially to urban or semi urban schools are still in post.
This sample cannot be considered representative of the bigger picture, but when their experiences are considered alongside the information obtained from district officers a number of issues arise and there are clear areas for further research.
The initial career paths of newly trained teachers do not, in the majority of cases here, conform to the pattern of taking up a post for three years after pre-service. This is particularly true in rural areas and severely undermines continuity of staffing in many of those schools. In the face of a staffing and deployment crisis, district offices with high numbers of rural schools have introduced a number of pragmatic policies to prevent high levels of non-reporting. One district director noted that pupil teachers are "holding the fort" in many schools and admitted that they had almost given up trying to post newly trained teachers to the more remote schools because of high levels of non-reporting the previous year:
This year was a bit different. Instead of posting them to the hinterland, we posted them to schools on the main road. The schools in the interior still suffer. We made a special application for 70+ pupil teachers this year. [District director]
Another district director admitted that the common practice of transferring teachers after one year from "hardship" postings had become a de facto promise to give newly posted teachers an incentive to stay for at least one year. All saw the problem of getting newly trained women teachers, and rich male teachers10, to accept difficult postings and saw sponsorship as offering a possible solution, particularly if based on a form of circuit sponsorship.
10 The following are typical perceptions of many district officers: "Some people are hardy and some are reared on plates. Even P. here, some object. Those from rich backgrounds have problems...cooking on firewood..."; "Human nature being what it is. If you have a father in GES HQ and you are posted to F. district, you should be given a pleasant posting, if you are not used to rural life.
The problem of delayed payments of salaries had been one of the causes of the strike and many in the district offices had sympathy with the teachers, although they had not joined them in the strike. Allowances had been provided by GES to ameliorate the delays, an improvement on the situation last year, but at district level many saw inefficiencies in the centralised nature of the system, particularly with the perceived bottleneck at the Accountant General's office (through which all posting information must pass before salaries can be released), as the main problem, along with late reporting of teachers and the problem of dealing with high levels of non reporting and early transfers.
In almost all of the districts visited I was confronted by new district directors and, in line with the importance placed on districts by current reforms such as decentralisation and Whole School Development, there were signs of increased interaction and sharing of best practice across the region as a whole. For example, all districts had offered orientation programmes for newly trained teachers in 1999 where several had not the previous year.