At a time when the government has launched the Ghana Smart School Project to distribute 1.3 million tablets to public Senior High School and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) students, teacher unions have raised red flags over the government’s failure to deliver on its promise under the 1 Teacher 1 Laptop project.

Speaking on JoyNews’ PM Express on Monday to justify why public school teachers have been on strike since last week Wednesday, President of the Ghana National Association of Teachers, Rev. Isaac Owusu said over 100,000 public school teachers have yet to receive the laptops they have been deducted for since 2021.

Teachers on strike Rev. Isaac Owusu, who was speaking in response to the condemnation of the ongoing strike action of teachers in public by public schools by the CEO of the Fairs Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC), Ben Arthur, on the same programme, retorted, “Engineer [Fair Wages CEO] has been attacking us at the least opportunity he gets since Wednesday when we declared the strike.

“Evans, when it comes to the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission, the unions have raised five solid issues, and each of the issues is very important and dear to the teacher we’re representing. Regarding the issue concerning the laptop, the contract says that within 12 calendar months; that is from January 2021 to December 2021, the supplier should have finished the distribution and we are in 2024. More than 100,000 teachers have not received the laptop, and what is the engineer talking about?” he fumed.

As of December 2021, the Ghana Education Service (GES) said it has distributed about 80% of the 62,000 laptops to teachers in Senior High Schools under phase one of the project.

But President Akufo-Addo, who spoke at the launch of the Ghana Smart Schools Project to provide smart tablets for SHS students, said that the Ministry of Education had already distributed 200,000 laptops to teachers in pre-tertiary institutions nationwide.

On March 20, the three teacher unions namely, the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), Ghana National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), and the Coalition of Concerned Teachers Ghana (CCT-GH) declared a strike due to unsatisfactory conditions of service.

According to the unions, the government had failed to renew its collective agreement, among other concerns, following its expiration in 2023.

They argued that since all efforts to get the government to the negotiation table have proven futile, laying down their tools was their last resort.

Teachers disregarded strike procedure The FWSC CEO said the teacher unions had disregarded the processes for declaring a strike and had also failed to respect an order by the National Labour Commission for them to call off their strike. He also lambasted them for failing to show up for a meeting called by the FWSC and its mother agency, the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations.

“There are procedures, there are provisions as to what must happen before you can really embark on a strike. You failed to notify the employer, Fair Wages was not in the know, and what was statutory of you to notify the National Labour Commission was also not done, and then all of a sudden we’re ambushed."

Teachers strike to end only after But the GNAT President told the host, Evans Mensah, that teachers will not return to the classroom until all their demands are met, no matter the attacks on them, referring to the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission CEO’s remarks on the show about their strike.

“The collective agreement, before the 2020 one that we signed, we were having 2009 collective agreement and we used it from 2009 to the year 2020. I want Engineer [FWSC CEO] to understand that, yes, you’re under the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations, but you’re not the employer of the teacher. The law says that if we want to embark on industrial action we should notify the employer. Engineer, are you the Director-General for GES? Evans, we wrote two separate letters on the 29th of February and in those letters, the NLC was duly notified.”

"The teachers of today are not the teachers of yesterday. The teachers of today are demanding results from leadership, and that’s what we are doing. We don’t have any ill motives and nobody is behind us,” he noted, in response to Mr Ben Arthur’s query to know what their true motivation for the strike is.

He indicated that they’re meeting the National Labour Commission on Tuesday, March 26, on the same matters.

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.