Friday, 20 September 2013

Decision To Scrap Allowances To Teacher Trainees

Government`s decision to remove allowances to Teacher trainees is a step in the right direction and perhaps long overdue. For years now teacher trainees have been given training allowances to see them through their course and perhaps to motivate and attract prospective school leavers to the teaching profession. With the passage of the College Of Education bill, the training colleges attained tertiary status and since it would be practically unwise to pay allowances to tertiary students’ government decided to scrap the allowances. Teacher trainees are now given the option of applying to the Students Loan Scheme for instant loans to finance their education. Invariably monies saved from the withdrawn allowances could be diverted to expanding facilities in the Colleges of Education. With their new status, the Colleges of Education might require improved infrastructure and expanded facilities such as ICT laboratories, school auditoriums and perhaps readily available research funds.

There is no doubt the cancellation of the allowance will inure to the benefit of trainee teachers because hitherto government restricted admission to the teacher training colleges through the quota system in view of the huge financial encumbrances involved in paying the allowances. It is unfortunate teachers trained with the tax payer`s money drift to perceived lucrative areas like politics, business, law and medicine. Some refuse postings to deprived areas where their services are most needed. Now that teacher trainees will no longer be given allowances more students can be admitted to the Colleges of Education to churn out more teachers. That perhaps explains why government has directed the Colleges of Education to increase their enrolment by 40 percent to ensure that more applicants are accommodated for the 2013/2014 academic year. According to Deputy Minister of Education, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa the 38 Colleges of Education dotted across the country are expected to admit about 20 thousand applicants. When teacher trainees pay their own fees to see them through education, the umbrella body, GNAT, can then negotiate for better conditions of service for the living standard of teachers to improve. With the removal of the allowances there is the likelihood that only committed teachers will enter the profession and not those attracted by the allowances.

Teaching is one of the most important professions the world ever. It is a noble profession and ready jobs are guaranteed upon completion of training. Most of us owe the teacher a debt of gratitude for what we are today. It will therefore be prudent to make the profession attractive to school leavers. Government has no option but to improve infrastructure at the Colleges of Education as most of the infrastructure at these Colleges are in deplorable condition. For instance, at the Kibi Presbyterian College of Education, a report by a fact finding committee set up by the National Council for Teacher Education showed bad road network, leaking teachers bungalows - some of them not rehabilitated for years now. Now that the statuses of these training colleges have changed, there should be a development plan to bring infrastructure there at par with the Universities. Government must expedite action on the construction of the ten additional Colleges of Education in all the Regions as promised in the NDC manifesto. Even though some people argue that the plan is ambitious and superfluous, there is no denying the fact that better qualified teachers need to be trained to meet the country`s development needs. A popular adage says if you think education is expensive try illiteracy. Quality education can never be free. Whatever is free is never cherished and turns out to be more expensive. As the British adage goes, there is no free lunch. Government must keep focus and go ahead with its education development plan, teacher education inclusive. The floodgates have now been opened for us to get more quality teachers for our students, and no agitations can stop this.

BY: JUSTICE MINGLE, A JOURNALIST.

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