A spokesperson for the Ministry of Education, Kwasi Kwarteng, has stated that there are no ongoing conversations to scrap the payment of teacher trainee allowance.
According to him, despite the rumours, the government is still paying the allowance, adding that scrapping the allowance does not guarantee an automatic solution to all challenges faced by Colleges of Education in the country.
Speaking on The Pulse on JoyNews on Tuesday, Mr. Kwarteng said, “so far as the Ministry is concerned, there has been no such conversation on the scrapping of allowance and as at now, the allowances are being paid, the allowances on authority, categorically, have not been scrapped.”
He explained that although some people are calling for the removal of the allowance, there have been studies that support it.
“If you look at the allowances, there are a lot of other studies making a very strong case for it, we have students buying their books, handouts with it and a lot of things also goes into it as well,” Mr Kwarteng added.
This follows the circulation of rumours that the allowances for teachers and nursing trainees would be scrapped off in 2022. The Ministry in 2021 had denied the rumours. However, that did not stop people from wondering as payment of the allowances delayed.
After the budget presentation, in November 2021, data from the 2022-2025 budget preparation guideline document pegs total allocation for both teacher and nursing trainee allowances for 2022 at ¢401.1 million.
Of this amount, nursing trainee allowance (¢231.2) for the period represent 57.6 per cent while teacher trainee allowance (¢169.9 million) represent 42.4 per cent of the total projected allocation of ¢401.1 million.
Reacting to this, the General Secretary of the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS), Julius Kwame Anthony says government must reconsider the payment of teacher and nursing trainee allowances.
He said, “I know suggesting that the state stops paying the allowances is the unpopular opinion, but friends, when that dialogue begins I’ll make an analysis on what the alternative to this consumption expenditure could be.
“We need to have a conversation around this and it starts when the last penny in arrears is paid. Government must reconsider the teacher and nursing training allowances,” he said.
Meanwhile, Vice President of policy think tank IMANI Africa, Franklin Cudjoe has advocated for the scrapping or reordering of the allowance.
Also speaking on The Pulse, he said the Colleges of Education are struggling with infrastructure deficit among many other challenges because resources are not being used to address challenges in the schools.
“Let people take loans and pay back, that is what we all did when we went to the university. I don’t see why I should be feeding grownup people wanting to be teachers and at the same time giving them money for attendance. I don’t think that is a good use of our money, either scrap or reorder the payment of these allowances through the private means,” Mr Cudjoe added.
Also on the show, Editor of Colleges of Education Weekly Journal, Larry K. Agbador reiterated the need for the Ministry to prioritise other challenges the Colleges of Education face over the payment of the allowance.
He explained that “we have about over 70,000 applicants applying and they will pick only 16,000. When you pick them, you have to pay them allowance, but if you put that allowance aside, use such monies to put up infrastructure, no matter the number that applies, we will surely be able to pick them.”
Mr. Agbador stated that more has to be done in terms of infrastructure and training of more teachers, especially since the current teacher-student ratio in the basic schools is not encouraging.
However, Mr. Kwarteng believes that payment of the allowance has no correlation with admissions and application systems.
“We shouldn’t premise our infrastructural challenges on the fact that allowances are being paid. That is very simplistic to say,” he contended.
He added that stakeholders can however be engaged on the allowance and alternatives.
“We do have challenges but we have to discuss them from a dispassionate and honest point of view,” Mr Kwarteng said.
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