Teachers who absent themselves from duty for 10 continuous days or more shall be deemed to have vacated their post, the Minister of Education, Professor Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang, has said.
She told Parliament yesterday that all recalcitrant teachers would be dealt with according to the code of conduct of the Ghana Education Service (GES).
The code says, among other provisions, that 'no teacher shall leave the country without a written permission from the Director-General of the GES'.
The minister, who was answering a question on the floor of Parliament, therefore, directed the GES to 'exact stiffer sanctions on teachers who flout the code of conduct guiding the teaching profession'.
'The country will not reap the benefits of investments made in the educational sector if efforts are not made to curb the rampant absenteeism of teachers in the various parts of the country,' she said.
Prof Opoku-Agyemang said it had been observed that the GES rarely applied the sanctions to recalcitrant teachers due to lack of supervision.
The Member of Parliament (MP) for Agona West, Mr Charles Obeng-Inkoom, who had posed the question, wanted to know about measures which had been put in place to address the issue of teacher absenteeism in pre-tertiary schools and other institutions with a view to ensuring higher performance in relation to teacher delivery.
Prof Opoku-Agyemang spelt out the code of conduct for teachers which indicated that teachers should report for duty in good time before schoolwork began.
The code also stipulates that no teacher may leave the school during school hours without the permission of the head of the institution, while teachers leaving their schools for elsewhere are required to inform their heads of their whereabouts to facilitate their recall in an emergency.
Sanctions accompanying the code include warnings, reprimands, queries, forfeiture of pay for the number of days absent, stoppage of increments, suspension with loss of pay and allowance, disciplinary transfer and termination of appointment, where necessary.
When the minister was asked whether transfer was a punishment, she explained that that aspect of the code was being reviewed.
Prof Opoku-Agyemang said even though the sanctions were clear, they were not enforced and attributed the situation to lack of proper supervision.
That situation, according to the minister, prevented the collection of adequate information to sanction officers.
However, in some situations, she said, there was collusion among senior staff responsible for taking action meant to stop the practice, resulting in the perpetrators going unpunished.
'I have indicated my intention to expunge such practice in the system and my recent unannounced visits to schools and districts attest to the seriousness I attach to the problem of teacher absenteeism," she said.
Prof Opoku-Agyemang said she had instructed the Director-General of the GES and her team at the national, regional, district and circuit levels to adopt that approach and report on all such visits, even in the media, to draw public attention to the challenge.
The minister added that she had also directed the GES to intensify supervision in schools and ensure that punitive measures were taken against all those who flouted the code of conduct for teachers.
She said the ministry was committed to supporting the GES to set structures to improve teaching and learning, as well as school management.
"I urge the teacher unions to cooperate with the ministry to raise the level of professionalism in their members. Their involvement will bring significant progress to the efforts I have raised to address the problem of teacher absenteeism," Prof Opoku-Agyemang said.
By Emmanuel Adu-Gyamerah/Daily Graphic/Ghana