It is necessary to know and understand how the Teacher Trainee Allowance came about. Originally, the Training colleges were attached to some secondary schools, for example Achimota School in Accra and St. Augustines College in Cape Coast. There were other similar Institutions in Ashanti and elsewhere. The two types of Education were on the same compound. The fees paid by the secondary school students were higher than those of the Teacher Training Department. For example, in Achimota while the secondary students paid seven pounds, their counterparts in the Training College Department paid five pounds as fees. The motive behind the disparity was to encourage more students to offer Teacher Training. The expansion of educational programmes necessitated the training of more teachers for the first cycle schools. For this reason, six week Emergency Training Centres were established in all the regions to train pupil teachers already teaching in schools.
In addition to this, some of the four year Teacher Training Colleges were split into two, and they became certificate 'B' Training colleges and certificate 'A' ( otherwise known as Post B) Teacher Training Colleges. It is interesting to note that those who entered 'A' (that is post B) Teacher Training Colleges were to use the salaries they received on the field to pay for their fees, boarding, books and other expenses. Whatever was left was paid to them as allowance. It should be noted that not all the teacher trainees received the same amount of allowance. This was so because some had taught longer than others. If you were not a pupil teacher you could not enter (Cert B Training College) and if you entered Training College as a pupil teacher you were given pupils Teachers' pay.
It should be noted again that if you were not teaching in the classroom you could never attend a Training College aside this arrangement. If you taught for five years without going to Training College you were sacked to give way to others who were serious enough to enter Teacher Training Colleges. The Teacher Trainee allowance was to motivate people to offer teacher training. More teachers were trained within a short period as a result of this arrangement. For this reason, the Cert 'B' teacher training was stopped and the Four Year Training Colleges re-introduced as well as Cert 'A' (2 year) Post-Secondary Colleges. As part of training college expansion, a special dispensation was given to girls who finished middle school to enter straight away into Teacher Training Colleges after passing their exams successfully. These categories of teacher trainees were paid as pupil teachers and had to pay for their boarding, books, tuition and others from their pay and the balance given to them as allowance. Incidentally this type of arrangement came to an end in the Second Republic but was restored later on during the military regime. The trainee allowances were not purposely instituted by any government as allowance. It was a long term plan that when Ghana attained sufficiency in Teacher Training, teachers would have to apply for postings after successfully passing an interview by the G.E.S.
The question is, at this stage, should a new allowance be instituted for Teacher Trainees/or we should continue to pay them the allowance. Even if the allowance should ever be paid, it should rather be paid to newly trained teachers to buy teaching and learning materials to equip them in their profession and not for goodies and enjoyment.
BY JOHN AFFUL, RETIRED ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION 0202792696, 0277247098.