Accra, April 25, GNA - Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, Minister of Education and Sports, on Monday said government would have to spend close to 400 billion cedis or more per year as salaries for teachers on study leave and that of newly recruited teachers to replace them.
He noted that in a situation where 14,689 teachers leave the classroom annually in pursuit of academic laurels, the government had to recruit about the same number of personnel to fill those vacancies created.
"Currently, there is a shortfall of about 40,000 teachers in the country, with 28,000 untrained ones waiting on the list, but the country's training colleges are able to train only 8,000, therefore the GES should be careful not to deplete its coffers for the sake of study leave to create empty classrooms," he said.
Mr Osafo-Maafo gave the facts at press briefing following numerous petitions and allegations from the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) and other professional teachers in connection with the granting of study leave with pay to enable them pursue Diploma and Degree programmes for periods ranging from two to four years.
He said a five-member committee chaired by Alhaji Rahim Gbadamosi, former Director-General of the GES had been commissioned to investigate the allegations and report buck to the Minister within three weeks. The Committee is also expected to decide on bringing on board other stakeholders including representatives of the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) to ensure a comprehensive feedback Mr. Osafo-Maafo stated that as much as training and re-training for development of personnel of an organization was important to serve as a motivating incentive, it was also important that rules and regulations governing such incentives were strictly adhered to, to ensure its smooth implementation.
The Minister explained that the system where a huge vacuum was created in the classroom due to teachers leaving for further studies, necessitated the introduction of the quota system, by the Ghana Education Service, in the 2000- 2003 academic year to streamline the implementation of the Study Leave Policy to make it cost effective.
He said the quota system, which is demand driven, was based on the number of applicants to be granted study leave each year and the number of approved courses and subjects relevant to the service to be pursued and this should be determined by the GES council.
"In order to ensure that we do not create empty classrooms with the study leave policy, the management of the quota system had also taken into consideration the inflow of teachers annually from our training colleges and the outflow of teachers through the study leave system," he said. Mr Osafo-Maafo said that the number of teachers on study leave for the year 2005, stood at 14,689, as at April, with an average salary per annum per teacher over a little above 15 million cedis and "if steps were not taken to streamline things, it would disrupt teaching and effective learning which the Service seeks to achieve."
He cautioned teachers against the desertion of their posts in pursuit of academic laurels prior to the approval of their application, since the granting of study leave was not automatic under the quota system and that personnel could either be granted or refused the request, based on the advice of the Director-General.
"Those who have fallen victim to this have no cause to blame the GES for placing embargo on their salaries, since they deserted their posts without obtaining approval from the GES," he said.
Mr. Osafo-Maafo however, said the MOES had taken steps to review the existing policy guidelines and to investigate the allegations levelled against the GES personnel in-charge of study leave nationwide.
He said the Ministry had also taken immediate steps to ensure fairness and equity in the granting of study leave with pay by instituting proper allocation and utilization of resources for efficient and effective management of staff in the GES.
Efforts were being made to decentralise the Distant Education Programme to ensure that teachers were given the comfort of further education while still teaching, he said.