Cape Coast, Nov. 5, GNA - The Government would next year provide free tuition for teachers undertaking distance learning programmes, President John Agyekum Kufuor announced on Saturday. He said the Government would provide 15 billion cedis next year to pay for the tuition to enable teachers to stay in the classroom instead of leaving for full time courses.
In addition a car loan scheme, under similar conditions as the scheme for health professionals and the provision of new duty-post vehicles for all district directors of education, would also be provided.
President Kufuor, who announced these at the 10th National Teachers' Award Ceremony at Cape Coast; said the Government attached importance to the contributions of teachers in the national developmental agenda. He said it was in recognition of this, that the Government had enhanced prizes for best teachers with the ultimate prize of a house being increased in value from 250 million cedis to 300 million cedis and provision of computers to three schools from where best teachers emerged.
The President said the Government was determined to improve working conditions for teachers to "sustain their pride in the profession", adding that their contributions, could not be quantified or amply rewarded, but observed that society had taken such invaluable contributions for granted and stressed that any reward teachers were given should be here on earth. He said the indispensability of the teachers' roles must first be acknowledged and their legitimate concerns addressed, and said it was as a result; that the Government appreciated the contribution made by teachers and would continue to promote their welfare.
Reacting to concerns raised by the Acting National President of the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), Ms Portia Molly Anafo, about Government's being unconcerned about labour issues, President Kufuor said there was the need for all to recognize and respect the National Labour Commission (NLC) He emphasized that there it was imperative to use dialogue in resolving issues in order not to jeopardize the future of the youth in the country, and on the decentralization of education, pointed out that the Government was committed to quality education. He said it was in this regard, that it was strengthening District Directorates of Education and stressed that the Ghana Education Service (GES) still had a supervisory role in guaranteeing uniform standards and would be given the requisite support.
President Kufuor, recognized the role of all stakeholders in the upbringing and education of children and said the State's role was to support as much as possible, for instance with the provision of the capitation grant, while parents, nurtured and provided school uniforms, learning materials and food for their children. He said as a result of such collaborative efforts, it was, therefore, important for parents to demand accountability to ensure the production of the "right calibre people". He also touched on the need for private sector partnership in education and employment provision and said it was important for business concerns to help to develop technical and vocational education, by making provisions for practical attachment for basic and second cycle students, who were unable to further their education to acquire skills.
President Kufuor, commended the award winners and tasked them to aspire to greater heights, and told them that the fact that they had been chosen among their colleagues was ample evidence that they had administered their profession effectively. He also tasked all teachers to rededicate themselves to their work and to help the nation to produce the required human resource base.
The Minister of Education, Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo reiterated the Government's commitment to enhancing the welfare of teachers. He mentioned interventions aimed at creating opportunities for teachers to upgrade themselves, and said in order not to lose teachers to the other professions, the Government was working out incentive packages like improved accommodation and good working conditions and promised that by the end of the year, all school pupils would have been provided with textbooks.
Mr Osafo-Maafo commended the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) and traditional rulers for their contribution towards education, and urged all traditional rulers to set up educational endowment funds in their areas. The Acting GNAT General Secretary stressed the need for teachers to upgrade themselves, and said their working conditions should be improved to create the right teaching environment, such as the review of allowances. She pledged GNAT's commitment towards ensuring this and said the GES needed to be repackaged to enable teachers to meet global challenges, and expressed the hope that the final report of the Presidential Commission on Pensions would make recommendations that would be beneficial to all workers.
Ms Anafo, called on all teachers to endeavour to "strive against all odds to produce the right citizens", and exhorted the awards winners to let their awards serve as motivation for them to work harder. In a welcoming address, the Central Regional Minister, Mr Isaac Edumadze was also full of praise for teachers for their contribution towards the development of the nation's human resource. He expressed concern about the current spate of indiscipline and urged teachers to lead exemplary lives.
Mr Edumadze, appealed to the educational authorities to ensure the provision of placements for candidates, who hailed from the Region, into the elite schools located in the Region to help to improve educational standards. The Reverend Professor Emmanuel Adow Obeng, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast, who presided, also made reference to the numerous educational institutions in the Region and urged traditional rulers to encourage their people to educate their children.