The official compulsory retirement age in Ghana, especially in the Ghana Education Service and other public institutions, is 60.
It is expected that at 60, a person in public service should have worked for 30 years or slightly more; at most 35 years. It is, however, often realised that some people in Ghana work for up to 42 years before retiring.
It is also common knowledge that people keep altering their dates of birth on their documents to escape the wrath of retirement. As a consequence of this, many people who should have gone on retirement several years back are still in active service, while energetic young men and women are seeking jobs in vain; most of them roaming the streets jobless.
We are all aware that in the 1940s and 50s, some people were enrolled in school when they were about 15 years or more. In Ghana Education Service (GES), especially, some people completed secondary school or college when they were about 30 years or more. If such people have worked for more than 30 years after college and continue to remain in the system, simply because their ages were not documented and young men and women with requisite qualifications to replace them continue to roam the streets without jobs, in which direction are we moving?
Monotonous daily routine
In the not-too-distant past, people cherished the period of retirement and were eager to reach the retirement age and rest from the monotonous daily routine work they had done for nearly half their lifetime.
Now, things are becoming quite different and people seem to have developed the fear for retirement. Despite the fact that we are in a computer era and database should have been kept intact, there is a rush by some people to change their dates of birth. The situation is alarming in the Upper West Region and something has to be done about it. If the authorities concerned continue to give positive responses to people’s requests to change their dates of birth, the situation will become unbearable in the near future. Some people may have genuine cases, as when for example, somebody’s name is mistakenly submitted for retirement, but these may be very few.
Several reasons seem to account for why people are reluctant to go on retirement:
1. The authoritative nature of some people while in service: Some people wield so much power or authority when they are in active service and are reluctant to retire for fear of losing such authority to become ordinary citizens.
2. Ill-preparation towards retirement:
3. Ill-treatment of subordinates or other colleague workers.
4. Fear of losing dignity and respect.
To these people, retirement is considered to be next to death and some people believe that when one retires from active service the next thing is death. People, therefore, resist retirement and strive to distance themselves from it by altering and falsifying their ages.
5. Some people are promoted to some high offices when they are left with a few years to retire. They, therefore, want to stay a little longer to enjoy the fruits of their toil.
I wish to appeal to the government to improve the conditions of service for workers, particularly GES staff, put in place housing loans for workers and improve on the SSNIT Pension Scheme. I also wish to suggest that the government maintain the compulsory retirement age. Workers’ documents should be critically examined and scrutinised to avert situations where dates of birth are altered and retirement postponed. If this is done, many people who should have retired but remain in the system will be flushed out to create vacancies for the young men and women who are jobless in the country.
Let us remember that we can cheat man but we cannot cheat God, and the longer we stay on the job, the more weak, stale and unproductive we become. Let us have pity on our young men and women. God bless us and give us the heart to do what is right.