Second Lady Matilda Amissah-Arthur yesterday created a scene at a public function in Kukurantumi in the Eastern Region when she launched into tantrums, lambasting teachers for lacking innovation.
The Vice President’s wife said government had over pampered teachers so much that they had resorted to making demands for basic teaching materials like chalk and log books without being innovative.
She was provoked by a request for government to supply basic schools with learning materials like chalk, log book and register among others, which the government had failed to provide to the schools in addition to the non-payment of capitation grant.
The headmistress of the Kukurantumi Presbyterian Primary School, Juliet Oppong, complained of short supplies of chalk, registers, exercise books, note books, pencils and other materials in her welcome address when the Second Lady presented some computers to the school. The computers were to aid the setting up of an Information Communication Technology (ICT) centre in the school.
Mrs Oppong had thanked the Second Lady for computers and requested of her to communicate to government to provide some basic materials for the running of the school.
‘The elderly say if you want to communicate something to God, you say it to the wind. We are therefore requesting of you to tell government to try and come to our aid with these things which are in short supply in the school…,’ Mrs Oppong requested.
But Mrs Amissah-Arthur, who until becoming the Second Lady was a professional librarian, did not take what the headmistress said lightly.
Even before Madam Juliet Oppong could resume her seat, the Second Lady hit back with a swift riposte: ‘I won’t give you the chalk; I won’t give you the chalk today or tomorrow. Your teachers and PTA should go and buy it.
‘When head teacher was talking, she said they don’t have chalk, they don’t have log book; meanwhile a box of chalk is not expensive. Government has been giving all these materials but not all the schools get them. That is why we have PTAs so that they also come together to do the rest. The government gives more than three quarters of the materials. To headmistress, I’m disappointed that you would ask me for common chalk too,’ she stated in Twi, with same translated in the English language.
Again, she said: ‘You talked about log book and uniforms; I think you have been spoilt.’
She said, ‘We have given you school uniforms so now parents don’t even want to buy clothes for the children’, to the surprise of many who had gathered there including chiefs and members of the clergy.
Surprisingly, the Second Lady noted, ‘The school uniforms that government has been giving out are not by force; it is government which decided to give parents some form of a bailout by way of provision of uniforms because not all parents can afford it.’
Meanwhile, the provision of school uniforms for children of basic school going age was a major campaign promise of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) during the 2012 electioneering campaign.
Even though she said government had been supplying these items, the headmistress narrated that often times they do not receive them, which affects teaching and learning.
She indicated that occasionally they have to use the small monies they generate internally to purchase some of these items, and therefore asked government to come to their aid.
But Mrs Amissah-Arthur expressed disappointment in the headmistress and her comment, stating: ‘The head teacher has disappointed me. Head teacher, so if government has supplied school uniforms and they are not enough, can’t you find ways to acquire some?’ with an order in tow: ‘Please go and find other ways to supplement.’
She therefore suggested that the headmistress and the school compile a database of old students and contact them to assist them with some of these basic supplies since ‘people are now helping their schools.’
According to her, ‘it will even be embarrassing for me to go back to Accra and tell them the headmistress of Kukurantumi says they don’t have enough chalk so we should bring her chalk. Please, I can’t go and say this anywhere because they will even laugh at me. So I can’t go and say it.’
Mrs Amissah-Arthur was accompanied by the Regional Minister, Antwi Boasiako Sekyere, his Deputy, Mavis Ama Frimpong, East Akim Municipal Chief Executive, Peter Simeon Asirifi, and some NDC executives.
The programme was chaired by the Chief of Kukurantumi, Daasebre Boamah Darko.
By Charles Takyi-Boadu & Daniel Bampoe
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