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04.10.2002 General News

Study leave for teachers to be reviewed

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THE Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service (GES) are seriously considering a review of the study leave policy for teachers to enable more of them to benefit from the scheme.

A source close to the ministry said in an interview that the move is in response to requests made by the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) to give more teachers the opportunity to upgrade their qualifications. It said this year about 10,000 teachers applied for study leave but only half could be approved due to circumstances beyond the control of the GES.

The source said the ministry and GES will continue to support distance learning programmes for teachers. Sandwich programmes in some of the country's tertiary institutions will also be supported.

It said the two organisations are currently working on the cost of sponsoring the study leave for teachers to be factored into the budget of the GES. The source said the ministry and the GES are unable to grant all the request for leave because of the shortage of teachers in the system.

It said much as the ministry is not against any teacher upgrading him/herself, it is, concerned about the large number of teachers who want to go to school at the same time.

The source expressed the hope that those selected will live up to their promise to return to the classroom to help improve the standard of education in the country.

In another development, the former General Secretary of GNAT, Mr Thomas A. Bediako, has said that it is the prerogative of the GES as the employer of teachers to decide what number of teachers should be allowed to go on study leave with pay at a particular year.

Mr Bediako who is also the Chief Co-ordinator of Education International, Africa Region, was responding to a question from a teacher at the 70th anniversary lecture of GNAT in Accra yesterday.

He said the GES cannot afford to sponsor all those who qualify or apply to go on study leave during a year and suggested that to enable more teachers to go on study leave, there is the need for GNAT to consider setting up a fund to complement the efforts of the GES and the ministry. He also made it clear that it will serve the interest of the employer and the GNAT if the study leave is rationalised.

Delivering the lecture on the theme, “GNAT — 70 years of construction and committed teacher unionism”, Mr Bediako congratulated GNAT for the numerous achievements it has chalked up over the years.

He said in the years ahead, the greatest challenge of the association will be how to improve the quality of public education in the country.

Mr Bediako asked the teachers to restore the confidence in the public schools by putting in efforts to improve the quality of teaching.

He urged the association to endeavour to address the problems of all teachers to prevent further breakaways as has been the case, adding that, “there is the need for the association to work hard to bring those who have left back to its fold”.

The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast, Reverend Professor Emmanuel Addo Obeng, who chaired the function, asked the government to stop paying lip-service to improving the conditions of service of teachers.

He said issues of education, particularly the welfare of teachers, should not be treated as secondary matters, since the role of teachers in nation-building cannot be ignored.

Professor Obeng congratulated GNAT for its achievements and urged the association to face the challenges ahead with tact and professionalism.

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