The debate surrounding payment of Teacher and Nursing Trainees Allowances continuous unabatedly as many have provided what were described as conflicting and contradicting commentary prior to the run up of the 2016 and 2020 General Elections respectively.
Some commentators, especially the New Patriotic Party (NPP) communicators believe that, the allowances due the trainees were cancelled by former President John Dramani Mahama’s National Democratic Congress (NDC) led administration after winning the December 2012 Presidential Election.
The then Presidential Candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) H.E Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and his running mate Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia also prioritized the cancellation of the Teacher and Nursing Trainees Allowances in their campaign messages and promised a restoration.
Though the assertions and claims were debunked by President John Dramani Mahama prior to the 2016 election in an interview with the Host of Good Evening Ghana of Metro TV Paul Adom-Otchere and the subsequent clarifications made by the then former Minister of Education Prof. Naana Jane Opoku Agyemang prior to the 2020 General Elections as a Vice Presidential Candidate of the opposition NDC, it does appears that, many are still in dilemma on issues regarding the controversial Teacher and Nursing Trainees Allowances.
In the midst of the debate, the then Deputy Minister of Education, In charge of Tertiary Education Honourable Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has laid bare some shocking facts on the trainees allowances.
The Member of Parliament for the North Tongu Constituency reiterated that, the then National Democratic Congress Government substituted the allowances with Feeding Grant and Students Loan for the purposes of equity across the tertiary institutions that train teachers for the country. He added that, the substitution was to upgrade the Colleges and also eliminate the quota system among many interventions.
Explaining the issue, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa said, “On the matter of Government’s flip-flop over teacher and nursing trainees’ allowances, first and foremost, we ought not to fall for the disingenuous propaganda that there was a restoration.”
He clarified that, before the decision to replace allowances with student loans and abolish the detrimental quota system; teacher trainees were receiving GH¢546.86 every month of the year (thus 12 months) following an increment by the Mills/Mahama government, an additional feeding grant of GH¢1,120 per student for an academic year (GH¢560 for each semester) paid to Principals, and the continuous payment of allowances for newly recruited teachers and nurses until they were formally added to the public sector payroll.
According to him, the incontrovertible fact establishes that even after the replacement of allowances with student loans, the John Dramani Mahama Administration continued to pay the Colleges of Education their feeding grants of GH¢1,120 per student for every academic year until the National Democratic Congress (NDC) left office in January 2017.
Mr. Ablakwa said, the records show that this is not the arrangement which was restored as claimed by the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia Government. He disclosed that, Teacher trainees now receive a paltry GHS200 and not GH¢546.86 which pertained under the NDC.
“The government then pays GH¢196 to the Colleges as feeding grant. Also, note that unlike in the past, these payments no longer cover every month of the year except the few months spent in school — normally a maximum of 8 months in a year. 2021 recorded 3 months spent in school.” Mr. Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa added.
Explaining further, he said, nursing trainees under Akufo-Addo/Bawumia receive GHS399 from a peak of GH¢700 under Mills/Mahama. Again, this is for a few months and not the entire 12 months as was the case.
“To RESTORE is to BRING BACK or RE-ESTABLISH what existed – that is not what happened, neither is that the case presently. Don’t fall for the deception. Even with the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia inferior allowances regime, they are not committed to the very low bar they set for themselves. The meagre allowances are consistently in arrears with current arrears owed trainees amounting to as many as FOUR months.”
“Even more tragic is the litany of abandoned infrastructure projects across all 46 public Colleges of Education. The dreaded quota system is also back with PRINCOF asked by government to admit not more than 16,000 trainees for the next academic year. When the NDC abolished the quota system, enrolment shot up by some 63% with 18,911 first year admissions for the 2016/17 academic year.” He explained.
“As for the current unprincipled convulsive U-turn which now acknowledges the well-reasoned and sincere policy position as canvassed by the Mahama Administration and all the vilification and vicious attacks we were subjected to, we shall continue to leave that to posterity. Deception and dishonesty may appear to be in the lead, however, truth shall always overtake them and emerge unassailably victorious.” Samuel Oudzeto Ablakwa said.