Let’s Dialogue On Teachers’ Allowance — GNAT

Mrs Irene Duncan AdanusaThe Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) has called on the government to engage them on the withdrawal of teacher trainer allowances or face stiff opposition to it.

General Secretary of GNAT, Mrs Irene Duncan-Adanusa, said the association was ready to dialogue and think through the policy’s implications for education in 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.

She said if nothing was 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 It is obvious that if the allowance is withdrawn then the GES would have no right to post teachers and bond them.”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 and explained 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 thus creating 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 calibre of prospective students with passion for the teaching profession”.
GNAT said rather the contrary would be the case and added that students were not being attracted 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 that statement was regrettable since it was a known fact that it was not only students in educational colleges who were paid allowances, but others who were undergoing similar training in comparable institutions also enjoyed allowances.

Giving a brief history on allowances, Mr Samuel Doe Alobuia, President of GNAT, traced the payment of allowances to the colonial era when many of 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 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 origin of the nation’s inability to meet its teacher needs adding that currently about 48 per cent of teachers in the country were untrained. — GNA.

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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