The Minister of Education, Science and Sports, Papa Owusu Ankomah has pledged the ministry's support for teachers who enforce discipline in the basic and secondary schools.
"We will stand by any teacher who enforces discipline in schools in the most stringent, strict, rigorous and robust manner," he told a gathering of heads of unions and institutions in the education sector.
The gathering was an informal forum, organized by the ministry to interact with heads of all stakeholder groups and institutions in the sector.
They included the Ghana Education Service (GES), National Union Ghana Students (NUGS), Teachers and Education Workers Union (TEWU), National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), Polytechnic Teachers Association of Ghana (POTAG) and the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG).
It was also to enable the stakeholders to take stock of the past year, with particular respect to the several challenges that faced the sector and evolve possible solutions to prevent the repetition of such challenges in the New Year.
"Last year was particularly turbulent for the sector and we need this kind of informal interaction to iron out our differences and forge ahead this year", the Minister said.
Papa Owusu Ankomah noted that one of the challenges that faced the sector was that of indiscipline in basic and secondary schools, which took a new shape in the form of occultism and increasing explicit sexual activity, which pointed to the breakdown of discipline in the schools.
He said the ministry had decided to be less accommodating of such behaviour beginning this year and would therefore stand firmly by teachers who would take the bull by the horn to instil discipline among students.
"We want results this year and would depend on you the teachers to bring us that results - I therefore authorize you to use rigorous and robust measures to get us the result we need."
Papa Owusu Ankomah said the increasing number of students made it quite difficult for teachers to maintain discipline, but the ministry would be monitoring the schools to provide teachers with what they needed to promote discipline.
He said as part of the new strategy to ensure discipline and high academic performance in schools, the educational system would undergo reforms from September this year to place more power and resources at the district and community levels so that managers at those levels would come up with innovative ways of moving the sector forward.
The Minister said as part of the strategy, many transfers had occurred in the sector, adding that he had taken notice of the several petitions sent to his office by teachers and other staff in the sector requesting for a second look at their transfers.
"I can assure you that I have seen the petitions but I would not be able to address the contents of the petitions because if I did, it would put the new reforms and strategy for this year out of gear", he said.
Papa Ankomah noted that though he had been accused of not being accommodating, the ministry would not accommodate demands and recalcitrant behaviour that would adversely impact on its policy strategy.
Mrs. Angelina Baiden-Amissah, Deputy Minister of Education in charge of Basic and Secondary Education said in the face of the new strategy, coupled with the increase in enrolment due to the Capitation Grant, the ministry was not in the position to grant the several request for study leave to teachers.
She appealed to teachers to bear with the ministry and allow the quota system to work in order to ensure that, while some teachers were on study leave, others would be around to teach and move the system forward.
"You can also make use of the Presidential Special Initiative (PSI) on distance learning to improve yourselves and avoid going on study leave", she said.
The Deputy Minister reminded the teachers that the sector alone enjoyed about 60 percent of government's total annual budget and that was still not enough to take care of all the sector's needs.
She added that in recognition of the budgetary constraints that faced the sector, unions should be a little more "liberal" in their demand for better conditions of service.
Mr. Samuel Bannerman Mensah, the new Director-General of the GES assured teachers of good working relationship during his tenure of office.
"I have observed that even though teachers are the main drivers of progress in the education sector they are the most demoralized because of poor conditions of service. But I have made it a point to find ways of boosting the morale of teachers to ensure that they bring the needed changes in our education system," he said.