Teachers are to enjoy new incentive packages to motivate them and enhance their service delivery, the Vice-President, Mr Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur, has said.
The packages include the payment of market premium and inducement allowances to eligible teachers.
For the market premium, which is akin to what is paid to public servants, emphasis will be placed on teachers with critical and scarce skills, while the inducement allowance will go to teachers posted to deprived areas.
Addressing the 18th National Best Teacher Awards in Kumasi Friday, Mr Amissah-Arthur said the government had taken a firm stand to religiously support teachers to deliver on the job.
The event, which attracted an appreciable participation, was on the theme, “Take a stand for Teachers”.
While appreciating the reality that the realisation of accelerated economic growth highly depended on the system of education in place, the Vice-President said, “This reality dictates a new development strategy that creates a quality educational system that produces a high calibre human resource at the centre of any development strategy.”
Mr Amissah-Arthur indicated that since assuming office about four years ago, the NDC government had taken a firm position never to underrate the power of education.
That, he said, explained why, annually, a quarter of the national budget went into the educational sector, the highest in the sub-region.
Giving some specifics, the Vice President said more than 1,200 new basic school buildings had been constructed to offer the teacher a conducive environment to work, adding that for senior high schools (SHSs), 3,000 classrooms had been added to the 9,000 inherited.
Besides, coverage of the school feeding programme had increased from about 400,000 schoolchildren in early 2009 to about one million in 2012.
He said other areas that had seen tremendous improvement were subsidies to SHSs and allowances to teacher trainees, which had increased from GH˘88 to about GH˘360 per month.
The Vice-President also mentioned the implementation of the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS) which had seen the salaries of teachers appreciating to record highs.
For instance, he said, a graduate entering the Ghana Education Service at the level of principal superintendent now took home GH˘1,136.75, as against GH˘518.83 in 2009.
In spite of the remarkable investments made in education, the Vice-President admitted that there was still a lot of work to do to produce the qualitative human resource required for national development.
He apportioned blame for the situation, mentioning teachers, parents, schoolchildren and the agencies that managed education as contributing to the situation.
Citing a recent World Bank study on Ghana’s educational system, he said the rate of absenteeism was 27 per cent and even teachers in the classrooms spent just one-third of their time on their tasks.
On a wider scale, he said, only 76 days out of the 197 days officially allocated for classroom work were devoted to learning tasks, compared with 148.1 days out of the 190 available days in Tunisia.
Mr Amissah-Arthur said as teachers observed World Teachers Day, they needed to put in greater efforts in their work and have at the back of their minds that they were the “key to unlocking the wealth of the nation”.
Emphasising the government’s strong resolve to stand behind teachers to make teaching and learning easier, he said it was not surprising that last week Parliament approved a proposal for the setting up of computer laboratories and ICT learning centres in 2,509 SHSs.
Touching on the December general election, he said teachers provided a critical human resource base which could be utilised for electoral purposes and asked them to remain neutral in their dealings.
On whether SHS should become free, the Vice-President said that was a non-issue because the 1992 Constitution provided that secondary education shall be made generally available and accessible to every Ghanaian through progressive introduction of free education.
He also touched on the delay in the payment of capitation grant to schools and said next week he would hold a meeting with stakeholders in the educational sector and the Ministry of Finance to immediately redeem the arrears.
For his part, the Minister of Education, Mr Lee Ocran, said the programme to provide free laptops to each teacher was on course.
He urged teachers to remain dedicated to their work, promising that the government would never overlook their commitment to duty.
The Acherensuahene and Chairman of the Ghana Education Service Council, Agyewodin Adu Gyamfi Ampem, suggested a review of the teachers’ awards, with emphasis on the district level.
He also suggested that the school which produced the best teacher be rewarded with a house.
The Ashanti Regional Minister, Dr Kwaku Agyemang-Mensah, admonished teachers and other stakeholders in education to strive to make education better, in line with the government’s quest to create a better Ghana.
In a statement from the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), its acting National President, Mr Samuel Doe Alobuia, expressed concern over the slow pace at which teachers’ concerns were handled.
He mentioned, for instance, delays in the payment of allowances to teachers in deprived areas and delays in posting teachers and called for a shift.
Mr Alobuia appealed to the government to provide teachers with access to training facilities and continued professional development.
He mentioned the number of initiatives GNAT was undertaking to complement the government’s efforts at improving educational development and said the initiatives would continue into the future.
Source: Daily Graphic
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