The Governing Council of the Assin Fosu College of Education in the Central Region has risen to government’s defence over the swapping of the monthly trainee teacher allowances with student loan scheme.
According to Dr. Richard Asiedu, Chairman of the Council, the support is hinged on the fact that the initiative had opened opportunities for more students to secure admission into the colleges of education which hitherto was difficult due to the quota system associated with the allowance.
Speaking at the eighth Congregation of the College at Assin Fosu on Thursday, he said admission into the College which was around 900 students, has almost doubled since the scrapping of the allowance.
He, therefore, described as unfortunate the politicisation of the scrapping of the allowance, and advised teacher trainees to analyse the issue devoid of politics since that could undermine future development.
The scrapping of the allowance, has become a contentious political issue between the governing National Democratic Congress and the opposition New Patriotic Party NPP) with the academia and trainee teachers trapped in the middle.
While the government continues to defend its decision that the initiative has reduced cost and increased enrollment, the opposition New Patriotic Party, has taken a strong stand against it with a promise to restore it if voted into office.
Some teacher trainee associations have also kicked against the initiative and have consequently threatened to vote against the government if it failed to restore the allowances before the upcoming elections, something the academia is seemly quiet on.
But according to Dr. Asiedu, the government should be commended instead of being condemned for taking “a bold initiative” to increase access to teacher training education, which provides ready employment.
“We, as students and the entire citizenry, including stakeholders in education need to recognise the fact that, if not for the scrapping of this allowance, many of you here would not have gotten admission into this noble college,” he stated.
Dr. Asiedu, however, urged the Student Loan Trust Fund to expedite action on the processing of students’ loans applications, and also appealed to the government to ensure the prompt release of feeding grants.
Out of a total of 267 students who graduated, eight, including two females, had first class honours, 71 and 121 were in the second class upper and lower divisions respectively, 64 had third class while three passed.
Rev. Prof. Anthony Afful-Broni, Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of Education, Winneba, in an address read on his behalf, said although the increase in students enrolment and infrastructural development were good, focus should also be on improving quality education.
He expressed worry that moral standard in schools was fast deteriorating and said there was the need for renewed vision for educational policy and practice that was fully in tune with needs and issues of the 21st century to improve the dwindling quality education trend.
Dr. Nana Kwaku Asiedu, Principal of the College, for his part, noted that the college has infrastructural challenges, disclosing that due to inadequate accommodation for female students, the college may not be able to admit female students for its newly introduced five semester programme in September.
He cited encroachment of the college’s land and lack of a school bus as other challenges confronting the college.
Mrs. Wilhelmina Asamoah, Director of Tertiary Education at the Ministry of Education, announced that the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission and a review committee tasked to work on the migration of staff of the various colleges onto the single spine salary scheme had completed its work.
She said interventions had been made with the GETFund to ensure that all ongoing projects were completed before new ones were started, adding that outstanding feeding grants have been released while funds have been made available to support the professional development of staff of the colleges.
From Jonathan Donkor, Assin Fosu