Use dialogue, not strike

On October 18, this year, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo terminated the January 2021 secondment of Professor Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology to the Ghana Education Service (GES) as its Director-General.

The following day, the President appointed Dr Eric Nkansah to replace Prof. Opoku-Amankwa.

Following the announcement, a group of teachers describing themselves as concerned teachers hailed the appointment, commending President Akufo-Addo for symbolically demonstrating confidence in the youth of the country and that Dr Nkansah has the capacity to head the GES to the satisfaction of all stakeholders.

Even five days ago, the leadership of the Teachers and Educational Workers’ Union (TEWU) congratulated  Dr Nkansah, on his appointment.

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However, the appointment of Dr Nkrumah has suffered a protest from three teacher unions which describe him as an outsider being imposed on them and implored the President to reverse his decision and appoint someone who will be wholeheartedly accepted by the teaching fraternity or risk industrial action by teachers from November 4.

According to them, they had started some negotiations with Prof. Opoku-Amankwah, which had broken down  because of his exit from office and that they were not prepared to engage Dr Nkansah on any issue concerning teachers.

President Akufo-Addo has, so far, not heeded the unions’ pressure, so the leadership of the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) and the Coalition of Concerned Teachers (CCT-Ghana) have asked their members to withdraw their services in all pre-tertiary education institutions with effect from yesterday.

At their press conference yesterday to announce their strike, the unions gave other reasons for their action. (See our lead story).

The Ghanaian Times is worried that the unions have added other reasons to justify their action.

Sincerely, they have no legal basis for rejecting Dr Nkansah’s appointment and their claim that the position is the preserve of teachers is not tenable,

If they are appealing that the convention of appointing teachers or educationists to the position must not be broken, that is understandable because it gives the hope that one day, one of them would occupy it.

Per his functions, the Director-General is the Chief Executive of the GES and its chief administrator, who does not need teaching skills to be able to function.

After all, Section 12 of the Ghana Education Service Act 1995 (Act 506) stipulates that the Director-General of GES shall be appointed by the President in accordance with the advice of the GES Council given in consultation with the Public Services Commission.

We would only say that for what has happened, the teacher unions should rather use dialogue to call for some changes in the appointment process, including broad engagement with the unions even if the person to be appointed has once won the best teacher award.

In fact, for Dr Nkansah to be appointed just a day after relieving Prof. Opoku-Amankwa may mean less consultation or a long-planned decision to replace him.

As things stand now, we can only say though the teachers have the right to embark on a strike to have their grievances addressed, on this occasion they seem to be abusing that right.

Therefore, they can rescind their decision and save pre-tertiary students from unduly suffering from an underserving act.

Dialogue is the best option, and the way forwar, to avoid unrest in the education sector.

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