PRESS CONFERENCE BY UNIONS IN THE PRE-TERTIARY EDUCATION -GHANA
(GNAT, NAGRAT, TEWU & CCT-GH)
Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media,
We have assembled you here to inform you of the current development on the education front, as critical stakeholders of the education enterprise, and you are the reliable medium by which the Ghanaian public would be informed of the said development.
We are aware of how Ghanaians are hailing the implementation of the free SHS education policy. We endorse this initiative because it aims at the mass of Ghanaian Children acquiring free secondary education, and in effect easing parents of their financial burdens, the government is at the same time stealthily bent on implementing what it has christened the Ghana Partnerships Schools (GPS) Project, effective September 2019.
The drama behind this, is the perception that teachers are to blame for the low quality of public education in this country.
Here are the major features of the GPS project;
The project would be operated in the Ashanti, Northern, Central and Greater Accra Regions. A total of a hundred (100) schools would be selected. These schools should have KG, Primary and JHS, and at least three-hundred (300) students enrolled across classes. The schools selected should not have any immediate need for infrastructural development or rehabilitation. The funding would be sourced from a World Bank IDA and Global Partnership in Education (GPE) as loans and grants respectively.
Unfortunately per the budget statement of 2019, government has secured funding to support the private operators, instead of the public schools (see paragraph 814, pg. 162, of the Budget Statement for 2019).
An aspect of this policy empowers the private operator to decide to work or not to work with the GES staff. Under the project, transfer of GES staff will not attract transfer grants and school heads will not be maintained automatically by the private operator; the operators have the liberty to invite people from within or outside the GES to manage the schools.
This is against the spirit and letter of our Collective Agreements with the Ghana Education Service and the Labour Act, 2003 (Act 651). We wish to remind government of the preamble to our Collective Agreements which enjoins the parties not to be anti-union or anti-management but rather recognize and agree to promote trust, respect, fairness and endeavor to uphold these virtues in their policies and standards.
The project is purported to run for three years after which it may be institutionalized permanently. We wish to note that the MOE/GES is collaborating with ARK – an international consortium to implement this project. Already the MOE and the Consultants (ARK) have held a three-day workshop with an intention to finalize the draft report for the implementation of the project.In all these endeavours, the major stakeholders, GNAT, NAGRAT, TEWU and CCT-GH. have not been involved in the two-year planning of the project. We find this unfortunate and unacceptable.
Our friends from the Media,
The Unions find the GPS Project a subtle and eventual privatization, commercialization and commodification of public education in Ghana with the approval of Government. We are amazed that the government would be trumpeting the implementation of free secondary education policy only to turn round to institute education for the highest bidder policy at the basic level (KG, Primary and JHS), to the consternation of Ghanaian parents and we hereby protest vehemently against it and call for its abolition.
According to the 2014 National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), Citizens’ Assessment Report on the Capitation Grant Scheme (page 18), head-teachers rely on direct borrowing to keep the schools running, with the hope to redeeming their indebtedness as soon as the capitation grant is released. The Unions wish to reiterate that government is obligated under the laws of Ghana to provide each school with competent staff, adequate resources, teaching and learning materials and allied logistics and put in a proper and effective system of supervision to ensure the required quality education delivery. We challenge government to put this in place, instead of privatizing school management to achieve the desired results.
Ladies and gentlemen, the way to go is not privatization whether opened or veiled (as under the GPS project), but the supply of adequate resources and timely releases of the capitation grant so that school heads would not resort to, or rely on direct borrowing to run the schools. This is what the Government should do; if it fails the heads would run the schools as they are and they should not be held responsible for any lapses or aberrations in the schools. (See pg. 19, 2014 Citizens’ Assessment Report on the Capitation Grant Scheme, NDPC)
As we speak today the Capitation Grants for 2018/19 academic year has not been released to the schools.
Again, between the periods 2012 to 2017 the Government of Ghana failed to release subventions due the District Directorates of Education in the country. It was in 2018 that an amount of twenty-six thousand Ghana Cedis (GH₵ 26,000) was released to each of the District Directorates. Even with that, some districts did not get the full amount. This was after the Unions had fought tirelessly for it. How then, should the districts and for that matter, District Directors of Education and their staff be blamed, for the failure of the employer to provide resources needed for effective monitoring and supervision of teaching and learning in the schools?
We therefore call on government to release the subventions due the District Directorates of Education on time to enable them undertake supervision as required and expected of them, and see whether the anticipated teaching and learning outcomes would not be attained!
In conclusion, we make reference to the “2014 National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), Citizens’ Assessment Report on the Capitation Grant Scheme (page 63)” which calls on Government to;
(1) Increase the numbers of qualified GES staff in the schools.
(2) Increase GES staff pay, with particular attention to deprived areas, to serve as an incentive to them, to give off their best.
(3) Improve the relevance of the curriculum.
We wish to state that the GES staff are also parents with best wishes and intents for their children and students. Government should therefore not look down on us, hold us in contempt nor reduce us to zombies and docile teachers, who should take instructions from policy formulators.
The shirking of Government’s responsibility to basic education and the well-being of teachers as contained in the 2014 NDPC Report as indicated earlier has occasioned not only the unnecessary condemnations, insults and mudslinging being thrown at teachers constantly by the Chairman of the same NDPC, but also the intention of Government to implement the GPS Project.
We again challenge government to provide all the required logistics needed for quality public education and address the needs of staff, and see whether or not public education would not be lifted to the desired level. Privatization, Commercialization and Commodification are not the answer to the provision of quality public education.
We, the Unions in pre-tertiary education, are against privatization, commercialization and commodification of public education in no uncertain terms and hereby serve notice to this effect. Failure to abolish the project will leave the unions with no option than to marshal our forces to resist this Ghana Partnerships Schools (GPS) Project.
Thanks for honouring our invitation and hope you will carry the message and concerns to the government and the Ghanaian public.
David Ofori Acheampong, General Secretary, GNAT ………………….
Eric Angel Carbonu, President, NAGRAT ………………….
Peter K. Lumor, National Chairman, TEWU …………………..
Patrick Sackey, Deputy General Secretary, CCT-GH ……. ……. … .. . (0245533090)/(0208967598)
DATE: TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2019