The African Awakening- Second Teacher Strike in Ghana
2011 was marked by the Arab Spring, a period of protests and revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, and elsewhere in the world. The Arab Spring gained a lot of media presence and attention. Little known about has been the African Awakening, a movement marked by marginalized populations throughout the continent protesting for equity. From Zimbabwe to Sudan and recently Burkina Faso, African countries, often living through the legacy of colonialism and lackluster leadership since independence is rising against the status quo.
Ghana is among the countries experiencing the African Awakening. With rising inflation at 25%, according to the Ghana National Bank, the impacts of the unstable economic situation is felt across all sectors and overall development. This has been especially true for education. From October 20 to November 10, 2014, two teacher unions, Unions are the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), the Coalition of Concerned Teachers (CCT) and the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) in Ghana have been on strike and this has been negatively impacting students in government schools. The strike is a result of cancellation of teachers’ pension plan.
Ashanti region students of the Girls Education Initiative of Ghana, GEIG, were asked to document and discuss the effects of the strike of them and their education.
Martha Frimpong of Esreso D/A 2 says “we are wasting much time and we cant get the time back. It (the strike) can even let us fail the exams that are awaiting us in November/December”
Bushira Sumalia noted “ the truth is that the students will go around without learning… students will not get understanding of topics to be taught and teachers will rush getting nearer to exam times and students will not get the understanding of topics and their results will be poor.”
Harriet Osei states “foremost, the strike action has brought academic activities in government schools too a standstill. This has really affected the students in final year. The students are in panic for fear of failing their examination. Furthermore, it has also led to delinquency. Children are found to be loitering about in the streets during school hours.
Zakia Ali adds “the students will not be able to go to school and for that matter put pressure on their parents.” However, “the positive aspect of this strike is that it will help the teachers get what they’re asking from the government. The government and teachers will go to the negotiation table and solve their differences.”
These insights from students are indicative of some of the hardships youth in Ghana and elsewhere on the continent face. I am especially impressed by Zakia’s input. While she acknowledges the difficulties posed by the strike on students, families, and society as a whole, she has the understanding of governance and civic participation and acknowledges the positive aspect of a trying situation. Reform for the education system and the country as a whole will stem from adequately prepared students who are civic minded and forward thinking regarding their futures and the future of the country, the continent, and the globe. This is what I hope GEIG programs will instill in our girls and community members.