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20.11.2008 NDC News

Politicisation of National Youth Employment Programme20 teachers fired at Saboba… For being NDC sympathisers

By William N-lanjerborr Jalulah, Saboba - Ghanaian Chronicle

There are accusations and counter-accusations going on at Saboba in the Northern Region, over the dismissal of 20 teachers under the teaching component of the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP), for allegedly being sympathisers of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

While the Saboba District Coordinator of the NYEP, Atta Kumah Peter, has stated that the teachers were fired because of their poor performance in the classroom and irregular attendance, the teachers are also claiming that their dismissals were politically motivated.

According to the teachers, they were never given any query letters from their Coordinator, warning them of their so-called poor performance or irregular attendance to school, until last Saturday when they went for their two months allowances, and to their utmost amazement were given letters of dismissal.

One of the teachers at the Yankazia SDA Primary School, Wumbei Nana Robert, in an interview, said the reasons assigned for their dismissal were unexplainable, because Mr. Kumah, popularly known as Atta, had never visited his school, saying, “There is no record to show that he has visited the school.”

Mr. Wumbei claimed that though they had taught up to October this year, they were only paid up to September. When they made efforts to enquire from the Coordinator why they were not paid for the month of October, he allegedly said their dismissal took effect from October and not November.

Mr. Dokurugu Noah, also a victim, said he received his dismissal letter on November 11, with the same content that he had performed poorly, and was not also regular in his attendance to school.

This, to him, was a shock, because the first and last time the Coordinator visited his school, he was present. According to him, he cannot recollect a visit to the school again by the Coordinator to access his performance, before coming to the conclusion that he was not performing well.

He accused Mr. Kumah of replacing him and his colleagues with his allies and party (New Patriotic Party (NPP) people who were not even teaching, but would be taking allowances.

Other affected teachers like Mr. George Uyemi of the Kpegu Junior High School, also accused the Coordinator of dismissing them because they were members and supporters of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

Mr. Ntasuln Evans of the Sanguli R/C Primary School blamed his colleague teachers and community members who are supporters of the NPP, for masterminding their dismissals. He expressed fears that more teachers could be fired under the same circumstances.

The Chaplain of the Saboba E.P Senior High School, Rev. David Bindati, whose wife was also affected, told this reporter that Atta Kumah had not been officially appointed as the Coordinator of the programme, and therefore wondered why he could dismiss people he was not officially mandated to supervise.

According to Rev. Bindati, Atta and one Masuln were deployed at a rally organised in Saboba in honour of the NDC presidential candidate, Prof. J. E. A. Mills, to fish out teachers who had attended the rally, so as to dismiss them.

A Circuit Supervisor in Saboba, Mr. Ali Adolf, said when the schools reopened, it was only once that Atta visited some schools.

Atta did not also notify any of the supervisors or headteachers of the poor performance of the teachers.

He contended that apart from the above shortcomings, Atta also failed to query the affected teachers, and that there was no justification in dismissing them.

Mr. Ali alleged that the Coordinator was once exposed, when he attempted to claim the allowances of a volunteer teacher at the Saboba L /A Primary School, who had been replaced by one of the teachers of the NYEP, who had left the job.

Reacting to the allegations raised against him, Mr. Kumah maintained that the teachers were fired for non-performance and poor attendance to school, but denied that their dismissals were politically motivated.

He admitted that he was a member of the NPP, but claimed he did not dismiss the teachers because they were supporters of the NDC, but because he was interested in the welfare of the children, that the teachers were supposed to teach.

He claimed there were some members of the NPP who were also sacked.

Mr. Kumah alleged that some of the teachers had connived with their headteachers and Circuit Supervisors, to share the allowances that were being given to them, even though they are not in the classroom teaching.

According to him, people did not understand the NYEP, explaining that the employees and the government did not sign any contract to attest that they were permanent workers, and that they could be fired at any time if they were not making any positive impact.

He added that apart from the coordinators of the programme, other beneficiaries (employees) of the programme were not given appointment letters.

Mr. Kumah cited an instance at Kokolnzoli, where one Daniel, a teacher, had left for school and did not inform him, but still went back for his allowances.

It was later when he visited the school that he found out that the teacher had left for school, but was still taking his allowances.

He contended that the teachers had violated the Labour Act that stipulates that if a worker did not go to work for 15 days, he should be fired.

In a telephone interview with the District Chief Executive (DCE) for Saboba, Mr. David Nyame, he confirmed that he had received copies of the dismissal letters to the affected teachers.

While Atta was claiming that only 20 teachers were dismissed, the dismissed teachers were also claiming that they were close to 40, and that the mater had been reported to the District Director of Education and the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice.