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08.04.2004 General News

Teachers advised not to drive pupils home for fees

By GNA

Accra, April 8, GNA - The Director General of Ghana Education Service (GES) Reverend Ama Afo Blay on Thursday said there was no regulation that empowered teachers to drive children in public schools out of classes for non- payment of fees.

Rev. Blay said school fees were not charged at the basic level; therefore, teachers who drove pupils out of classes for fees gave such directives at their own risk.

The Director General was reacting to concerns expressed by members of the National Multisectoral Committee on Child Protection at a meeting held at the Supreme Court in Accra.

Members of the Committee include the Judiciary, Women and Juvenile Unit of the Ghana Police Service, UNICEF, Prison Service and Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT).

Some of the concerns expressed by the Committee were on teachers who indulged in sexual abuse of children, corporal punishment in schools, Headteachers who refuse to accept nursing mothers back to school. Other areas were water and sanitation in schools, school buildings used as places of worship, status of children from poor parentage.

Rev Blay said levies imposed by the district assemblies, Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) and School Management Committees (SMC) were not school fees adding, "teachers are not supposed to send pupils out from classes should they fail to pay for them".

She said it was the responsibility of parents to help their children with materials such as books and other accessories to ensure their effective participation in learning.

The Director-General of GES, called on parents to change their attitude and sacrifice a little to support their children in school.

She said the GES had identified 40 deprived schools nation-wide and currently and was distributing school uniforms to the pupils in these schools.

Rev Blay advised proprietors of private schools that also engage in similar acts of driving away school children for school fees to stop and appealed to them to see their operations as a service to the nation. She reminded teachers, that, the Service would not shield any anyone who sexually abused any pupil stressing that the culprits would be handed over to the Police for prosecution.

Rev Blay said the GES in collaboration with the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) and National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) would soon revise the teachers' handbook to prescribe the mode of punishment for teachers, who sexually abused pupils.

She announced that the Service was in the process of reviewing the first three years of basic education to enhance creativity among children during their early stages.

The Director - General said the era where children at their early stages were saddled with more subjects would soon be over.

She said story telling, drawing and the introduction of workbooks had now been identified as the best options for growing children since these enhanced creativity among them.

Rev Blay commended the UNICEF and other supporting agencies for their immense contribution towards improving water and sanitation in some schools in Ghana.

Mr Justice George Kingsley Acquah, Chief Justice and Chairman for the occasion, asked the GES to consult the Judiciary when revising the teachers' handbook.

He said he was optimistic that the GES would give the issues raised at the meeting the needed attention to enhance children's rights in Ghana.

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