Members of the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) have called on government to engage them on the withdrawal of the allowances of teacher trainees or face stiff opposition.
General Secretary of GNAT, Irene Duncan-Adanusa, said the Association was ready to dialogue and think through the policy’s implications for the education sector of the country.
“Whatever the reason, it seems economic rationale was being put at the forefront.
Government should think about the long-term implications and not short-term benefits, she said at a press conference to state GNAT’s position on the issue.
If nothing is done, the policy would be met with a fight and as the matter progresses we will know which form the fight would take.”
“Students in the universities and other institution on completion of their course of studies look for employment of their own choice, teacher trainees are prepared for a sole job. On completion of the course, they are posted to places where their services are needed. They have no control over it,” she said.
“What gives the GES the right to do this to the allowances paid to the teacher whiles in training? It is obvious that if the allowance is withdrawn then the GES would have no right to post teachers and bond them.
Mrs Duncan-Adanusa wondered whether the policy will solve the issue of equity, explaining that if teachers are allowed to rely on loans to pursue education they would not be obliged to accept posting from the Ghana Education Service (GES) and leave at anytime to create more empty classrooms.
Teachers are bonded to teach for a certain number of years whether they like it or not and this ensures teacher retention in spite of poor working conditions.”
The Association said it finds it difficult to comprehend how scrapping of the allowance will tend to “attract the best caliber of prospective students with passion for the teaching profession.”
GNAT said the contrary would the case and added that students were not being attracted to the education sector even with the allowances in place.
The Minister of Education’s statement that there was no justification to isolate only teacher trainees for allowances while other students who paid tax were not benefiting was unfortunate, GNAT said.
The Association explained that the statement was regrettable because students undergoing similar training in comparable institutions also enjoy allowances.
Samuel Doe Alobuia, President of GNAT, traced the payment of allowances to the colonial era, noting that the existing teacher training institutions belonged to religious bodies.
This, he said, was to attract people into the profession. Government therefore continued to pay the allowances while boarding and lodging fees were deducted from it and the rest paid to the students to be used in purchasing books and materials to aid their studies.
He said this continued till the overthrow of Dr Kwame Nkrumah when the National Liberation Council (NLC) announced a cancellation, saying “it was unwise for government not to pay teachers in training.”
The immediate effects, he said, was that many students who relied on the allowance could not report to college for a long time because they had to work on cocoa farms to raise money to enable them go back.
Mr Alobuia was of the view that this has been the source of the nation’s inability to meet its teacher needs, adding that currently about 48 percent of teachers in the country were untrained.
He said in 1986 as a result of persistent pressures from GNAT and other well-meaning Ghanaians, the allowance was reintroduced with a purpose of attracting school leavers to the teaching profession and also fill the colleges so that a sufficient number of teachers would be produced for schools in the country.
In this view, he said, the cancellation of the allowance was going to send the clock backwards and erode the little success chalked.
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