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29.07.2005 General News

Multiplicity of school fees to be abolished


Sekondi July 29 (Smith)-GNA-The multiplicity of fees, which have served as obstacles to school enrolment and retention of pupils, would be abolished throughout the country as from next academic year. Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo, Western Regional Minister, announced this when closing a one-week workshop on Mathematics, Science, Technical Skills, French and Administration for 203 Junior and Senior Secondary teachers Western and Greater Accra Regions at Sekondi on Friday.

The workshop was organised by the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) and the Canadian Teachers Federation (CTF). Mr. Aidoo said focus would be placed on enforcement of regulations on fees in line with the priority interventions of the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy for the Education Sector.

The interventions are school improvement, teacher development, deployment and supervision, reformed management and special partnership programmes with non-state actors, he said.

Mr. Aidoo said as from next academic, school buildings would be designed in such a way that physically challenged students could use in order to improve their enrolment and retention in schools. He said there would also be a support package to improve education in science, technology and mathematics in basic schools during that period.

Mr Aidoo said another key priority is to provide basic teaching facilities in all community schools and rehabilitation and expansion of existing public technical schools. He said to ensure increased access to artisanal and technical education and training, each district would benefit from an additional Technical/Vocational Institute.

Mr. Aidoo said the school improvement programme would continue to focus on accelerated provision of infrastructure, furniture and toilet facilities in public schools in the most deprived districts starting from Northern Ghana.

He said the distribution of basic textbooks to all public schools as well as basic equipment for JSS workshops would also continue. Mr Aidoo said at the tertiary level, apart from the emphasis on improvement of existing infrastructure, the private sector and civil society involvement would be encouraged through curriculum development, fund raising and fuller use of distance education facilities. He said there would the introduction of teacher rotation/redeployment system to supply remote rural areas with qualified teachers serving for a minimum of two years in difficult areas.

Mr Aidoo said special funds would be made available to deprived districts and remote areas to provide teacher accommodation and financial incentives in order to attract and retain teachers posted to those areas.

He said the Ministry of Education and Sports has received the recommendations of an independent committee appointed to investigate the implementation of the Quota System in the award of study leave with pay for certified teachers, has submit its report. Mr Aidoo said government would make its views known as soon as feasible so that a lasting solution would be found to address the need for continuous professional education for teachers making sure the policy is not pursued to the detriment of students. He said the Presidential Commission on Pensions has also submitted its report to government.

Mr Aidoo said government is studying the document and in the next few months, the strategy for more decent pension arrangement for public sector employees would be made known to affected workers. Mr John Nyoagbe, Deputy General Secretary of GNAT, called on the Ministry of Education and Sports and the Ghana Education Service to promptly release the names of those qualified for study leave with pay in order to forestall any hiccups in the administration of this year's study leave pay facility.

He also urged the government to issue a white paper on the report of the Presidential Commission on Pensions. Mr Nyoagbe further asked for prompt upgrading of the allowances of heads of schools, academic departments, housemasters and guidance coordinators to avert "Wildcat Strike".

He said following the restoration of the 2004 suspended salaries to members of the Joint Consultative Forum of Teachers, Nurses, Civil Servants and Judicial Service staff, the government through the Central Management Board (CMB) has not been forthcoming with realistic mandate to continue negotiations for this year's salary adjustment. Mr Nyoagbe said, "We do not believe that members of the Forum alone should continue to make sacrifices for the economic stability of Ghana". He added, "Tension is seriously brewing amongst the membership of the four constituencies of the Forum. The earlier Government comes out with a realistic mandate to defuse the tension the better for all of us".