The directive given by the National Service Secretariat to newly trained teachers (2018 year group) to compulsorily register for and do the National Service was the first of its kind in many years. Over the years, newly trained teachers who successfully completed the Colleges of Education, now University College of Education, were recruited and posted by the Ghana Education Service without doing the Service. The news, therefore, came as a huge disappointment to the newly trained teachers especially after being extemporaneously forced to write a licensure examination and eagerly waiting to be posted.
The Teacher Trainees Association of Ghana (TTAG) on Wednesday 7th November 2018 converged at the Obra Spot to register their displeasure with this new development. In reaction to their protest, the Minister of Education, Hon. Matthew Opoku Prempeh insisted that they would do the National Service "whether they like it or not". According to the Minister, nurses, doctors, lawyers and everybody who have gone through the tertiary system does National Service hence teachers are no better than them.
In an article posted by Gabriel Osei Junior captioned 'The True Meaning of National Service', it was stated that the Scheme derives its mandate from Act 426 of 1980 and that the National Service Scheme deploys Ghanaian graduates who successfully complete _tertiary_ _education_ both home and abroad on national development programmes ( https://nss.gov.gh ). The question is " Are the Colleges of Education really tertiary institutions? "
Students in tertiary institutions like the universities and polytechnics are not given trainee allowances. That is why it was premature for the erstwhile Mahama administration to scrap the trainee allowances which incurred the ire of many Ghanaians including the Hon. Matthew Opoku Prempeh. Again, students in tertiary institutions are not paid feeding grants and do not go to dining like the SHS students. They do not put on school uniforms, take exeats before leaving school premises, scrub, weed and fetch water to the pantry, etc. Take these out of the equation, make trainees operate freely as their colleagues in the universities and they would be ready for National Service. After all, university students are also no better than teacher trainees.
Delving into legalities, article 7(1) of Act 426 states that,
" A person who has not commenced or completed his period of national service shall not:
- obtain employment outside the scheme; or
- be employed by any other person outside the scheme; or
- be engaged in any employment outside the Scheme whether self-employed or otherwise, without the prior permission in writing by the Board".
This means that successive governments including the current Ministry of Education have blatantly overlooked and breached the above article. So is the Hon. Minister and the NSS ready to face the consequences by reactivating the above article to make all those who were immediately employed right after completion of College do the National Service?
Article 7(2) of this same Act 426 also stipulates,
" It shall be the duty of every employer to ascertain from every employee upon his appointment whether or not he is liable to national service and if he is, the employer shall notify the fact to the Board forthwith". Clearly, the Ghana Education Service, the employer of teacher trainees, have failed to perform the above duty as they have employed so many trained teachers who have never done their national service including last year's batch. Indeed the laws of Ghana must work!
Drawing down the curtain, it would only be fair to start the National Service in four years time with the newly admitted students into the various Colleges upon their successful completion and leave our poor newly trained teachers alone.
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