Koforidua, April 7, GNA - Participants at a public forum on the 2005 Budget at Koforidua on Wednesday expressed doubt about the commitment of government to developing the country's human resource. They complained about the poor service conditions of teachers, which the said, had frustrated many trained teachers and made them to abandon the classrooms for better paid jobs.
They also expressed concern about non-supply of textbooks to public schools in the last four years and delays in the payment of salaries of pupil teachers, especially those working in deprived areas. The forum was organized by the Centre For Budget Advocacy and was attended by students and members of organized groups including the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), Civil Servants Association, Ghana Registered Nurses Association and representatives of some political parties.
Mr F. O. Asante of SDA Training College, said if government was serious about the human resource development of the country, teachers needed to be motivated well enough to stay in the classroom. He said with the current poor conditions of service, teachers would continue to leave the service for better-paid jobs at the detriment of future human resource base of the country.
Ms Abena Dwamena, a teacher, said the Ghana Education Service had not honour its promise to pay tuition fees of teachers undertaking the distance education programme.
She said this had made many more teachers to opt for the residential tertiary education programme where they would leave the classroom and yet enjoy their full salary and be entitled to some student's loan.
Mrs Joana Ofori-Ntow of the Methodist Education Unit, said it was sad that pupil teachers who had been engaged to teach in the rural areas had to wait for more than one year before their salaries are paid. She said if such development continued, the affected teachers were likely to leave the classroom.
A resource person, Mr Oscar Sena Aglover, observed that, the recent 50 per cent increase in petroleum prices with it's accompanying 30 per cent increase in transport fares were likely to erode almost all the economic gains, which the 2005 budget was targeting. Mr Aglover suggested that efforts be made to get some of the mass transport buses to the rural areas to help in the transportation of foodstuffs to the urban areas at reasonable fares.
Mr Franklin Twumasi-Agyepong, a university lecturer, said the 2005 budget showed a movement from economic stability to economic growth, adding that the Government should be commended for widening the tax net to include persons who hitherto were not paying taxes.
He said some of the projections in the budget could not be achieved if Ghanaians refused to change their altitude to work.
The Media and Campaign Co-ordinator of Integrated Social Development Centre(ISODEC), Mr Steve Manteaw, called for a shift from theories to realities when dealing with economic issues. Mr Manteaw called on the organizers of the "WAHALA March" to come out with suggestions as to how the revenue, which would be lost through the reduction in the petroleum price could be raised.