On Friday, January 31, 2014, over 100 hundred disappointed teachers filled the GNAT Hall in Kumasi for a press conference on the ban on teacher recruitment. Below is the press release by the Co-ordinator of the affected teachers, Katakyie Kwame Opoku Agyemang.
Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Guests, Members of the Media present, Fellow Affected Teachers, Ladies and Gentlemen.
Permit me to use this opportunity to welcome you all to this important gathering. I am indeed humbled by your presence at such a short notice. Your presence today is an indication of the love you have not only for the Ghanaian child, but also for the future of Mother Ghana, in terms of her socio-economic advancement. May Allah bless you all for this splendid display of true patriotism.
Mr. Chairman, it is needless to consume our precious time to speak about the significant role education plays in a developing country like ours. For, if today Ghana has reached a lower-middle income country, with products like John Agyekum Kufuor, Kofi Annan, Dr. Mensah Otabil, and of course John Mahama, then it is only appropriate to give credit to those who developed the skills, and imparted knowledge into heads of the afore-mentioned Ghanaians. Over the years, the government of Ghana has not relented in its efforts to eradicate illiteracy among its citizens. This is evidenced by the incorporation of non-formal, and distance education programmes into the Ghanaian educational system. However, the teacher who happens to be the pivot around which education reforms revolves has been neglected to the background. Therefore, the falling standards of education at all levels in the country cannot be said to be natural. It is something that has been covertly and overtly created by educational stakeholders, with the Ghana government taking a greater share of the blame.
Mr. Chairman, the future of the Ghanaian child is very bleak due to the introduction of two educational policies by the current government. However, it seems the general public has remained silent over these two pertinent issues, giving priority attention to the sale of Merchant Bank. In the 2013/14 academic year, the NDC government under Mr. John Mahama has withdrawn the allowances meant for trainee teachers in the Colleges of Education. Besides, an indefinite embargo has been placed on teacher recruitment in the country. A memo to that effect was written by the immediate-past Director-General of Ghana Education Service (GES), Ms. Benedicta Naana Biney.
Inasmuch as the government justifies the implementation of these two killer educational policies, their negative repercussions on students and teachers have been glossed over. In a country with 60,000 teacher deficit at the basic education level alone, according to the GES, and high level of graduate unemployment, one would think the implementation of such policies would be the last resort. In most rural communities, many classrooms are without teachers. This situation compels the few teachers to combine the classrooms in order to teach our children. Thus, we currently have a situation where a Class Two pupil will sit in the same classroom with a Class Three pupil, and being taught the same topic at the same time, irrespective of the age differences. Can we describe this type of education as quality as espoused by John Mahama prior to Election 2012? Certainly not!
Mr. Chairman, it is again pathetic to note that the embargo, no doubt, has affected the livelihood of many young graduates and their families, thus leaving them emotionally and psychologically unbalanced. A sizeable number of young people who chose teaching as their profession and completed their 4 year professional training at the Universities of Winneba (UE) and Cape Coast (UCC) in 2012 and 2013 cannot be absorbed into the Ghana Education Service. After serving the nation for a year under the National Service Scheme, these graduates were mandated to fill posting forms from the GES in order for them to be posted to areas where their services would be needed. Those who were posted to the schools, especially in the remotest parts of the country, made preparations to start their new job in September 2013. Some even paid for their accommodation in the communities, not to mention those who frequently travelled to the northern and southern parts of the country for their appointment letters. Surprisingly and regrettably, these graduates were asked to bring back their appointment letters to the District Education Offices that issued them. The reason being that a ban has been placed on teacher recruitment from August 20, 2013.
Thus, having struggled to pay for the cost of one’s university education for four (4) solid years with the intention of imparting knowledge into children as a professional, this is the plight of a newly trained teacher who wants to serve his country. The question then is; why do the University of Education, Winneba, and University of Cape Coast continue to admit new students to be trained as teachers? Where would such people go after their training?
Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Guests, the situation of teachers who left the profession either for further studies without pay, or for other professions and want to come back is not different. These people cannot be re-engaged or reinstated in the education service simply because of the embargo. My wife and I, for instance, returned from the United Kingdom in June 2013 with the view to re-joining the GES, but this has not been materialised. Most of us in this hall have visited a number of rural schools that needed teachers, but the head teachers and the Education Directors have all been warned not to issue any appointment letter to anyone whose name is not on the government’s payroll as a teacher. Similarly, there are other graduates from private Colleges of Education, who hitherto were employed by the government, but these people have all been affected by the policy directive. They cannot be employed by the government. The only category of teachers that is not affected by the ban are graduates from the 38 Colleges of Education. This is because, their names are already on the government’s payroll due to the monthly allowances they received at school.
It could be deduced from the above that, apart from the government fuelling the graduate unemployment situation in Ghana, effective teaching and learning cannot be said to be taking place in many Ghanaian schools. This obviously affects quality education that we are all yearning for. As educationists, patriotic citizens, and people who value formal education, we cannot just sit down unconcerned whilst this policy blunder gains root in our educational system. This policy has the potency to “kill” many children in Ghana, for a barrier to education at any level anywhere is the breeding place for poverty, disease, ignorance, and all forms of social vices.
Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen, we are by this press conference, appealing to the Ministry of Education, through the Director-General of GES to review the policy without further delay. It is our belief that this will go a long way in reducing graduate unemployment in the country, whilst ensuring quality education at the same time. We, the victims of this bad policy, will hit the streets by the end of February 2014, if our request fall on deaf ears. We want the government to tell us whether Ghana has teachers in abundance to warrant such action. We thank you all for making this press conference, a success.
The Ghanaian child deserves better; Teachers deserve better!