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11.11.2005 General News

Student teachers threaten hunger strike

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Accra, Nov. 11, GNA - Student teachers on various university campuses said on Friday that they would embark on an indefinite hunger strike beginning November 13 to pressurise government and the Ministry of Education to grant them study leave with pay.

A statement signed by Mr Kwame Boadi, Chairman and Mr Alexander Eshun, Secretary, of the Committee of Affected Students in Accra, said they would also present a petition to Parliament on the worsening economic condition on the campuses.

"In fact, the economic situations on campus coupled with other necessities that go with tertiary education are becoming unbearable. Many of us taught between three and 22 years, some are married with children and these children's schools fees need to be paid," he said. "Where do such parents raise funds to pay fees, cater for their nucleus families and even raise funds to cater for themselves? Many of us have become destitute and living on the mercy of benevolent people and families."

The statement said that the group had no parochial interest in demonstrations.

"Our interest is to plead to the Ghanaian public to consider our plight and plead on our behalf to the Minister and the Government to temper justice with mercy even if we have committed anything wrong, and grant us study leave with pay.

"We are also Ghanaians and qualified teachers, who worked under the conditions of the service of the Ghana Education Service." According to the statement, they had learnt with dismay the manner in which the authorities were treating the issue concerning granting of study leave with pay for 2004/2005 academic year. It said the leadership of the affected student had taken various measeures through negotiations and consultations with the Minister of Education and Sports and the Director General of GES but no positive response had come out.

It said as such affected student teachers took to the streets in April 2005 in pursuit of their demand after which the Minister of Education Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo set up a committee. It said though the report was silent on whether or not the affected students would be granted study leave with pay, part of the report had been implemented nationwide.

It said they wrote a letter in October 2005 to the Minister requesting the Ministry to come out with its stand on the issue and the students were glad when the list of affected students was requested by the Minister's office.

This had since been done but to date nothing had been heard from the Headquarters of GES. The statement called for a positive response from the Ministry to enable student teachers to stay on campus quietly to learn.