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The saying/cliché, “A teacher’s reward is in heaven” is probably older than I am. It is said to teachers to pacify them when they complain about their poor conditions of service/remunerations, despite all their hard work and toil.

Their low pay translates into poor pensions on their retirement. I dare not say I have a live example in my house, for fear of upsetting the prevailing positive “domestic eco-system of peace!”

However, occasionally, it appears God drops a bit of the teacher’s reward here on earth as happened to my “Manager” last weekend.

Unexpectedly, we were the beneficiaries of two sacks containing a total of over fifty yams, and an impressive number of guinea fowls.

The young Lieutenant who delivered the parcel had been sent by his Commanding Officer in Tamale.

The parcel was from a former student of “Manager” at the Armed Forces Secondary Technical School, Burma Camp, who is now a big Lieutenant-Colonel.

I am not sure though if such earthly drops will be debited against the teacher’s total heavenly account.

This windfall of yams brought back memories.

“Ejisu-Eight”

As the Commanding Officer (now Commandant) of the Ghana Military Academy in the late 1990s, duty took me to Kumasi. “Manager” accompanied me.

From previous experience, I knew that, on our return trip to Accra, given the chance, she would want us to stop at every point food appeared, to buy yams, plantains, cocoyam, snails, nkontomire and any food item in sight, till my Command Land-Rover got full.

Not ready for this, I sternly declared, “Madam, there will be two stops for you to buy food. No more!”

Having decided Ejisu would be her first stop, she bought eight tubers of yam, among others, which she started distributing from Koforidua.

When we arrived home, she asked my driver and bodyguard to take one each of the three remaining tubers, leaving the last for us.

A sudden storm, however, resulted in my soldiers taking off with all three yams leaving us with zero from the eight Ejisu yams.

Manager’s plan of my breakfast the next day of my favourite fried yam thus got scuttled. She promised to make up at dinner that evening.

She would buy a tuber of yam in the afternoon after school.

Miracle?

While at a meeting that morning, I was told a soldier from Tamale had been sent by his Commanding Officer to see me. He was to deliver a parcel. I called Manager who was just leaving home for school.
She waited to collect the parcel. When I got home later that evening, she showed me a sack containing about 20 yams! From eight Ejisu-yams to zero-to-20 Tamale-yams!
Incidentally, the Commanding Officer (now a retired General) was my student when he was a Captain, and me a Lieutenant-Colonel in the early 1990s.

Discussion

Thirty-six-year-old Kenyan Teacher, Peter Tabichi, who won the 2019 “Global Teacher Prize Award” said: “Seeing my learners grow in knowledge, skills and confidence is my greatest joy in teaching. When they become resilient, creative and productive in society, I get a lot of satisfaction, for I act as their greatest destiny enabler and key that unlocks their potential in the most exciting manner.”

Following this achievement, President Uhuru Kenyatta donated $200,000 to Kericho Secondary School, where Peter Tabichi teaches, for the development of STEM.

Teachers in Germany have the highest salary in the country and when judges, doctors and engineers asked Chancellor Angela Merkel for the same salary, she asked, “How can I compare you to those who taught you?”

Coincidentally or interestingly, while working on my laptop for this article on August 17, 2022, I got a WhatsApp message from a Lieutenant-Colonel, my former cadet.

“Good day, Sir, I hope the General is doing well.

“Today marks 21 years of commissioning for Regular Career Course 41. As the CO-GMA (Commanding Officer, Ghana Military Academy), your leadership, nurturing and untiring efforts which made it all possible cannot be overlooked. May God continue to bless you and replenish you.

“Thank you. The Intake remains eternally grateful, Sir.”

Like Tabichi, my joy is to see my products grow into responsible citizens and be an improvement on my generation. When the second Force-Commander in Somalia, Ugandan Maj-Gen Francis Okello, proudly talked of his student days at the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College in the 1990s and introduced me at the AU HQ, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 2017 as “my teacher who made me what I am,” I was humbled and happy.

While a few teachers like Peter Tabichi, Manager and I have received part of our heavenly reward here on earth, the fact remains that majority have not!

For our decision-makers, please listen to Chancellor Merkel’s statement on teachers. We are all what we are because of teachers!

At a dance in the mid-1970s, the late musician Bob Cole appealed to the audience, saying “Please help me now, when I need help most. Don’t wait till I die, and give me a grand ‘befitting funeral’!”

Let us appreciate Ghanaian teachers here on earth like Germany and Finland have done, and stop saying, “the teacher’s reward is in heaven!” from where nobody has returned to confirm the reward.

Leadership, lead! Fellow Ghanaians, wake up!

Source: Brig Gen Dan Frimpong (Retd)

The writer is a former CEO, African Peace Support Trainers Association, Nairobi, Kenya & Council Chairman, Family Health University College, Accra. E-mail: dkfrimpong@yahoo.com

 

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