Politics of Monday, 16 September 2013
Source: The Young Social Democrats, Ghana
The Young Social Democrats (TYDE) has carefully studied Government of Ghana’s proposal for scrapping the allowances for trainee teachers, compared this policy initiative to other best practices elsewhere and wishes to make some observations.
Some trainee teachers, upon hearing the announcement, were resented and have, in some instance, threatened go on public protest. TYDE vehemently believes that this regime of allowance has outlived its purpose and that it places huge financial burden on government coffers.
Some health sector authorities such as Dr. John Awoonor-Williams and Dr. Joseph Teye Nuertey have subsequently argued for the scrapping of same allowances from trainee nurses too. Additionally, it is worth mentioning that other health professionals such pharmacists, biomedical scientists, doctors and health service administrators do not benefit from the same regime of allowances trainee nurses receive. There are other claims, however, by some other health experts from the ministry of health that scrapping the allowances will be disincentive to prospective trainee nurses.
Trainee teachers and nurses are not the only categories of training institution students who benefit from this regime of allowances. Research by TYDE has revealed that Ghanaian trainees in certificate and diploma programmes such as Disease Control, Community Health and Sanitation, Laboratory Technician, Agriculture, Police and Prisons services also receive some allowances.
It is important for government to apply the general equity principle of ‘what is good for the goose is good for the gander’ in its determination of allowances for all training institutions in the country. In this regard, we believe allowances for all trainee professionals must be scrapped and the money put to other useful purposes such as infrastructural expansion, training logistics, career development and incentives for staff in their respective sectors.
The Student Loan Trust Fund (SLTF) could be an alternative to such students. However, TYDE has also observed that the wherewithal from SLTF, in most cases, does not suffice for the collective package of school fees, hostel rent, upkeep expenditure, and books and photocopy costs. Though the SLTF loan has helped many a student, the challenges with early disbursement, timing and the quantum of amount, have altogether been a big headache for most beneficiaries.
Moreover, TYDE is passionately concerned about the contemporary policy shift to funding of tertiary education for Ghanaian students. Toward that end, we call on government to engage the financial institutions to evolve bank loan schemes which actually suffice the cost and duration of courses or programmes offered by all tertiary or training institution students. Otherwise, we will end up giving a loaf of bread for a journey which requires five.
This proposal should be considered for the long-term approach. TYDE anticipates that some of the challenges would be credible national identification of the applicants; tax privileges, investment security and credit risk for those financial bodies which may so wish to venture into the business of giving long-term loans to students whose lifespans and educational outcomes will remain uncertain.
Finally, the Young Social Democrats wishes to draw government’s attention to an old debate of grouping all training institutions under the Ministry of Education. The status quo where training institutions are grouped separately under the Ministries of Health, Education, Agriculture, inter alia, sometimes brings about discrepancies in the administration. For the ease of administration, all such training institutions must be grouped under the Ministry of Education.