Following my recent request to the Director-General of Ghana Education Service (GES), Ms. Benedicta Naana Biney to lift the ban on teacher recruitment, I have received several calls from affected teachers in different parts of the country. In fact, the stories being told by the victims of the freeze on teacher recruitment leave much to be desired. The ban has affected the livelihood of many young graduates and their families, thus leaving them emotionally and psychologically unbalanced. Some even regret being born Ghanaians.
The benefits of quality education, as I have always maintained, cannot be quantified in monetary terms.It is therefore surprising that Ghanaians have turned a blind eye to the bad educational policies currently being implemented by the Mahama-led NDC government.
As if President Mahama, the man who contributed nothing financially towards his entire education does not want the Ghanaian child to step into his shoes, Mahama's administration has placed a ban on teacher recruitment since August 2013. In addition, the teacher training allowances meant to motivate SHS graduates to enter the teaching profession and also help the needy students to acquire learning materials has been scrapped. Regrettably, these two policies have been implemented in a country where 60,000 teachers are urgently needed to fill the basic schools (kindergarten, primary, and JHS) alone. What then is wrong with this NDC government, if I may ask?
When Nana Akufo-Addo, the NPP's Presidential Candidate for Election 2012, used Free SHS as his Campaign Message, this same Mahama was the first to argue that "Quality Education" especially at the basic level, was more crucial to the Ghanaian child than free secondary education. Therefore, whether the ban on teacher recruitment is now a component of Mahama's quality education or not is something Ghanaians need to find out from him.
For me, the implementation of these two unpopular educational policies - under a "Better Ghana" government goes to underscore the fact that the Ghanaian child has no future under an NDC government. This is a recipe for disaster as far as the socio-economic development of this country is concerned. It is thus imperative for all the educational stakeholders to wake up from their slumber and address this pertinent issue.
It would be recalled that in June 2012 and 2013, a lot of Ghanaians who wanted to join the Ghana Education Service (GES) graduated from the Universities of Winneba (UE) and Cape Coast (UCC). After serving the nation for a year under the National Service Scheme, these graduates were mandated to fill posting forms from the GES in order for them to be posted to areas where their services would be needed.
Those who were posted to the schools, especially in the remotest parts of the country, made preparations to start their new job in September 2013. Some even paid for their accommodation in the communities, not to mention those who frequently travelled to the northern and southern parts of the country for their appointment letters. Surprisingly and regrettably, these graduates were asked to bring back their appointment letters to the District Education Offices that issued them. The reason being that a ban has been placed on teacher recruitment from August 20, 2013.
Thus, having struggled to pay for the cost of one's university education for four (4) solid years with the intention of imparting knowledge into children as a professional, this is the plight of a newly trained teacher who wants to serve his country. The question then is; why do the University of Education, Winneba, and University of Cape Coast continue to admit new students to be trained as teachers?
Nor is this all, for, the situation of teachers who left the profession either for further studies without pay, or for other professions and want to come back is not different. These people cannot be re-engaged or reinstated in the education service simply because of the ban. My wife and I, for instance, returned from the United Kingdom in June 2013 with the view to re-joining the GES, but this has not been materialised.
I visited a number of rural schools that needed teachers, but the head teachers and the Education Directors have been warned not to issue any appointment letter to anyone whose name is not on the government's payroll as a teacher. Similarly, there are other graduates from private Colleges of Education, who hitherto were employed by the government, but these people have all been affected by the policy directive. They cannot be employed by the government. The only category of teachers that is not affected by the ban are graduates from the 38 Colleges of Education. This is because, their names are already on the government's payroll due to the monthly allowances they received at school.
It could be deduced from the above that, apart from the government fuelling the graduate unemployment situation in Ghana, effective teaching and learning cannot be said to be taking place in many Ghanaian schools. This obviously affects quality education that we are all yearning for. As an educationist, patriotic citizen, and someone who values formal education, I cannot just sit down unconcerned whilst this policy blunder gains root in our educational system. This policy has the potency to "kill" many children in Ghana, for a barrier to education at any level anywhere is the breeding place for poverty, disease, ignorance , and all forms of social vices.
In this sense, I humbly appeal to all educational stakeholders, especially those affected teachers to join me in doing a press conference in Kumasi on January 31, 2014. This is to draw the government's attention to the repercussion of the ban, and the need for it to be lifted without further delay. I believe this will go a long way in reducing graduate unemployment in the country, whilst ensuring quality education at the same time.
The Ghanaian child deserves better under a 'Better Ghana'!
God bless Ghana! God bless Teachers !! God bless Kufuor !!!
Katakyie Kwame Opoku Agyemang, Asante Bekwai-Asakyiri
(Free SHS Ambassador) Official blog: (www.katakyie.com) [email protected] 0202471070 : 0264931361 : 0547851100
"Vision, coupled with persistency, results in true success"