Time with retirees

In October 2019, Madam Margaret Lardi Akparibo one of the pioneers of the Teachers’ Fund went on retirement. Having contributed to the Fund since its inception, Madam Akparibo went home with a huge sum of money totaling Ninety-Three Thousand, Eight-Hundred and Twenty-Five Ghana Cedis, Thirty-Seven Pesewas (GH¢93,825.37)

In the first of our series “TIME WITH OUR RETIREES”, Sena Atoklo recently visited Madam Margaret Akparibo in her home at Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region to interact with her about her days with the Fund.  We reproduce the conversation below.

Sena Atoklo (S.A):   Good morning madam. Please kindly introduce yourself.

Margaret Akparibo (M.A):   I am Margaret Lardi Akparibo once an active member of GNAT and the Teachers’ Fund but on retirement since October 2019.

S.A.: Do you remember when your first deduction was made to the Fund?

M.A.: The Teachers’ Fund started in 1998 and I am proud to say that I was among those who started the Fund. I don’t quite remember the month my first deduction was made but I know that it was in 1998 when the Fund started.

S.A.: Can you recollect or remember your Fund ID?

MA: No not quite. I knew the first number however, when you introduced the ten-digit number, it became too much for me to commit into memory. However, I suspected you will ask me about it so I wrote it down on a piece of paper.

S.A.: What motivated you to join the Teachers’ Fund?

MA.: A number of issues. I was in the leadership of GNAT as the Second Cycle Representative in the Upper East Region. I remember in 1993, GNAT embarked on an industrial action but it was a fiasco. The politicians dealt with us. They took over the classrooms and even invited retired soldiers, teachers and a number of retirees to take over the classrooms. It was such a hurt. They were not ready to do anything to improve our conditions of service. So we felt that we needed to take our destinies into our own hands hence the idea of the Teachers’ Fund. When the idea was mooted, as leadership we were able to galvanize teachers to support it and that is how we got started.

S.A.: Would you say that singular decision for the fund has been worthwhile and why?

M.A.: It has been worthwhile. Very much. At the point of retirement. Infact even before retirement you know the Fund has other facilities, Credit Mall is an offshoot of the Fund. The loan facilities. I remember the car loan through which a number of teachers got vehicles even motor bikes. Without the Fund all these couldn’t have been possible.  And on retirement, that is when you see the pudding you are eating is really sweet. I am a clear example and I have been telling my colleagues. You see there is a Pick-up parked out there, yes it is because of the Teachers Fund that I have been able to buy that car- a Pick-up not a saloon car on retirement. My colleagues have been wondering eh! Pick-up, how! I take the opportunity to ask if they are part of the Teachers. I tell them if they are not, they must do well to join and tell other members who are teachers to also take the step to join the Teachers’ Fund.

S.A.: In the run-up to your retirement, how much were you contributing to the Fund monthly.

MA: I was contributing GH¢1,000 a month before I retired. The Fund has two categories of contributors-those who contribute the basic and those who do differential contributions meaning those who contribute more than the basic. For me I have always ensured that I contributed more than the basic amount. I have always stepped up mu contributions. I remember when it was GH¢20, I was contributing GH¢50, then I increased it to 100,200. About 2years to my retirement, I went up to GH¢500 then eventually GH¢1,000 a month till I retired.

SA: When you retired, how much was your total benefit.

MA: I got Ninety-Three Thousand, Eight Hundred and Eighty-Six Ghana Cedis there about (GH¢93, 886). I am not sure about the exact amount but Ninety-Three Thousand for sure.

SA: It was Ninety-Three Thousand, Eight Hundred and Twenty-Five Ghana Cedis, Thirty-Seven Pesewas (GH¢93,825.37).

MA: Thank you.

SA: Did you anticipate that you will receive such a huge amount from the Fund upon your retirement.

MA: (Smiles) oh sure. I was even targeting a round figure of Hundred Thousand Ghana Cedis but got Ninety-Three (chuckles) but its ok.

SA: What did you use the benefit for?

MA: I knew I needed a means of transport and one that will help the family and when you  see my District Secretary, he will tell you I always say that my retirement vehicle must come from this and that was the target and it has helped me to procure a Pick-up vehicle so I am satisfied.

SA: What message do you have for teachers who are members and to those who are yet to be members of the Fund.

MA: Those who are not members, I have been urging them to join especially this Pick-up it’s a good advert for Teachers’ Fund. Most of my senior colleagues who retire buy saloon cars but they have seen that I have retired and it’s a Pick-up and I tell them it is Teachers’ Fund, are you a member! Then try and join. And those who are already there even before I retired I have always advocated that they become optional contributors because it is your own money and Teachers’ Fund will ensure that you go home with a big smile. It is good to always be an optional contributor and work towards your target because when you retire you are not going to be on a monthly salary, Infact you are going to be given stipend so it will help. Even if it’s not a vehicle, if you want to start a business or whatever.

SA: You were given a citation by the Teachers Fund.

MA:  Yes, I can read it out for you. (she reads the citation)

SA: And how did you feel when you were presented with the citation.

MA: I really felt happy that there was this recognition. And so I wished I could increase my monthly contribution. I think the Citation even motivated me the more to continue to contribute the GH¢1,000. I was really touched with this recognition because I am doing something for myself and was being recognized what is more than that.

SA: What is your final message

MA: My message to Teachers’ Fund is to keep on. Keep on educating members. You can even open up your doors to non-teachers so that this Fund can do a lot for even those outside the teachers’ fold. After all the teacher educates everybody. Without education there cannot be development. I hope that all manner of people will be accepted so that this Fund can grow.