VIAM wishes to commend the government of Ghana for remaining steadfast on its policy decision to abolish allowances for teacher trainees. This is a follow-up to a press release issued on December 22nd, 2015 on scrapping the teacher training allowances. The withdrawal of the allowance has ultimately led to the cancellation of the quota system, thereby increasing enrolment rates from 9000 to 15000. Hitherto, the allowances had created a perverse set of incentives creating an artificial ceiling on student intake. The limitations on student enrolment at the Colleges of Education (CoEs) should be on the basis of available facilities and not quotas.
In our previous publication, we estimated that, the abolishing of the allowance system would help government to save up to Ghc12 million monthly to improve educational infrastructure across the country (see https://tinyurl.com/zpu5gcp , https://tinyurl.com/j5damka). Per this estimate, the introduction of the student loan scheme, which replaced the allowances, and consistent with what pertains in all other tertiary institutions that train teachers, has created the opportunity for Government to save over GHC 280 million over the last two years that would have been paid to teacher trainees. President John Mahama confirmed this when he addressed a cross section of students of the University of Education, Winneba as part of his ‘Accounting to the People tour’ in the Central region. In his speech, the President revealed that “government will be able to plough back the Ghc282 million that would have been paid to teacher trainees in expanding education so that we can employ more teachers”. We are happy to see VIAM Africa’s recommendations being implemented. We are however requesting that government states clearly the specific projects that the money will be used for.
Currently, the only major policy intervention at the CoEs appears to be the Transforming Teacher Education and Learning (T-TEL) project funded by the United Kingdom Government through its Department for International Development (DFID) at cost of £17 million over four years (2015-2018). Although this project seeks to reform and improve the teacher education sector, it has limited focus on providing physical infrastructure at the 38 CoEs to meet the demands of tertiary institutions. In addition, Government has absorbed five private CoEs into the public stream which has wide implications for the T-TEL project especially in relation to funding for the five additional CoEs, a position the project’s quarterly report of August 2015 tends to support. A lot of the training colleges, especially those in the Northern region, do not even match up to a standard secondary school. We therefore urge the Government to plough back the Ghc282million accrued from the scrapping of the teacher trainee allowance into infrastructural projects particularly in the 38 CoEs and the five private CoEs it has absorbed into the public stream. To ensure accountability and sustainability, VIAM Africa recommends the setting up of a distinct fund into which the accrued savings can be deposited. The CoEs can subsequently apply for funding for specific infrastructural projects with view to fostering public interest accountability.
Beyond this, VIAM Africa contends that prospective teachers must be offered the opportunity to live their own life and take responsibility for their action, in order to develop the requisite attitude and values they would need to succeed as leaders of their classrooms. They must be afforded the opportunity to experience the social life that their colleagues in other tertiary institutions and in particular teaching universities enjoy. After all, they have always demonstrated their ability to live independently during their one year off-campus teaching practice. We therefore recommend the provision of hostel facilities and halls of residence instead of the present boarding system as in the case of all tertiary institutions in Ghana. This should also mean that, wearing prescribed school uniforms, taking exeats, responding to school bells, weeding and cleaning compounds, among others, which presently pertain in the CoEs, should be abolished.