GES transfers, punitive or strategic measure

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The yearly ‘rituals’ of transfer of teachers in the GES have agitated the minds of many over the past years. A lot of people, largely those at the receiving ends of these transfers covertly express their displeasure about what they call ”arbitrary transfers” devoid of zero strategic bases. Even worse, those in authority, managers and administrators at the MMD or Regional Education Offices, seem to be providing little or no formal justification, whether in the Transfer Letters of teachers or any communique emanating from their outfit, for their decision to transfer teachers from one school to another. This article seeks to subject the subject of transfer of teachers in GES to rational analysis.

First, involuntary transfers are essentially done strategically to transfer expertise from one part of an organization or school to another. For instance, if school A has two or more Mathematics Teachers and another school B lacks such expertise, it would always be in the interest of efficiency and economic prudence to transfer one of the qualified Mathematics Teachers from school A to school B rather employing new human resource for school B. In this way, an involuntary transfer would then been seen to have a strategic impact on the quality of service or productivity of any organization that implements it. More importantly, it would be in the interest of transparency and good human relations to inform the worker or teacher to be transferred of the strategic underpinnings of transferring him or her in their Transfer Letter. This would engender much confidence in the transfer process, and erase the impression of officers using transfers primarily to punish teachers or settle scores with them. In fact, if the current consensus among teachers within the circles of GES is to the effect that transfers are just done to please the whims and caprices of some powerful people or conform to the MUSICAL CHAIRS system, then it is really worrying.

Second, a good involuntary transfer system should tick the box of convenience to the ‘tranferee’. This is rooted in the famous Theory Z propounded by William Ounchi which calls for managerial decisions to incorporate the well-being of an employee. It also calls for a balance between the work and the private life of an employee. Ounchi believes that if managerial decisions are underlined by the well-being of employees, it will not only significantly improve their quality of service provided at work but also increase productivity. It, therefore, stands to reason that an employee who feels uncomfortable by reason of arbitrary transfer is not likely to render quality service or increase output. When teachers are transferred to new schools far from their abode, it is likely to inconvenience them and eventually affecting their productivity, because a sound mind lives in a sound body(Plato). Indeed, If GES Involuntary Transfers are not in the interest of productivity, then it should be given a second look.

Third, a strategic transfer should be geared towards stifling the emergence of corruption in an organization. If managers sense that corruption may rear its ugly head in any department or school, it would be a smart move to effect involuntary transfers in order to avert it from festering. This is not a punitive use of transfer at all, but a smart way to prevent graft. Similarly, a strategic involuntary transfer may be used to avoid conflict and thereby ensuring peace in an organization. But, this must be done under the shade of secrecy but in compliance with the principle of transparency. In other words, persons to be transferred in other to avoid conflict must be briefed about the decision and its rationale.

Fourth, it is instructive to note that if involuntary transfers are used as punishment, it will be of zero consequence, because if you transfer a teacher for drinking excessively, you have only successfully changed his/her drinking spots. Again, if you transfer a teacher for ‘chasing’ school girls or boys, you have only changed his or her girlfriends or boyfriends. Also, if you transfer a teacher for being lazy, you have to justify which schools deserve lazy teachers and which schools do not. So, it is therefore apparently clear that one way to fail successfully is to use transfers as punitive measures.

In a nutshell, every involuntary transfer ought to be strategic, thereby ensuring the increased quality of service, increased productivity, prevention of corruption, and promotion of peace. These can be achieved through making transfers convenient to teachers, not using transfers as punitive measures, avoiding arbitrary or ‘music chair’ transfers, and above all being transparent and diplomatic with the process.

Dee Van Salu Jnr
CEO, Van Education Consult
NIC – Accra