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General News of Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Source: Daily Statesman

NPP to offer free WiFi to SHS, Polytechnics and Varsities

As part of its determination to enhance quality education, the next New Patriotic Party government, under the presidency of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, will ensure the provision of free WiFi services for students in the senior high schools and tertiary institutions across the country.

The initiative which will be undertaken through collaboration with the private sector will be dedicated to learning, administration and enhancing the capacity to do research.

"We shall improve the facilities and the curriculum for ICT education at all levels. We shall develop an online educational platform to host, stream, and share short videos of mini-lectures to classrooms or offices around the country," the NPP adds in its 2016 Manifesto launched at the weekend.

Again, under the next NPP government, the mission of traditional universities will be enhanced through the provision of appropriate and adequate infrastructure and learning facilities to accommodate expansion and ensure conducive teaching and learning and research.

"We will also abolish the payment of utility bills by students. We will also increase the amount of loans under the Student Loan Scheme and restructure to streamline its administration to enhance recovery of the loans," the NPP adds in its 2016 Manifesto.

Still on education, the NPP will ensure that children with special needs are not left behind, but are assisted by teachers with the requisite skills in differentiated teaching methods.
"Whenever possible, facilities will be provided to enable disabled children be integrated within regular schools," the Manifesto states.

With regards to the book and research allowance, which became an issue between the NDC government and the University Teachers Association of Ghana for some time now, the NPP says it will establish a Research Fund to facilitate further research and innovation with emphasis on the "continuous linkage of academia with industry and the world of work to ensure curriculum relevance, thereby reducing graduate unemployment."

The NPP government will also reactivate the original aim of linking technical and vocational institutions to the Technical Universities, explaining "they will be assisted to refocus on technical education and will be at the forefront of the NPP's One District, One Factory programme."

The NPP has also assured that teacher-trainees' allowances will be fully restored whilst mechanisms will be put in place to ensure salaries of newly-trained teachers are promptly paid, unlike the current situation under the NDC government which has seen significant delays in their payment.
The Mahama government has come under severe criticisms from trainee-teachers who have asked it to immediately restore their scrapped allowances or incur their wrath.

A group calling itself Concerned Teacher Trainees in press statement in July stated that the Mahama-led NDC government had shown gross disrespect to teacher trainees and teaching as a profession.

"It is not surprising that some teachers always have their salaries delayed or not paid for several months which lead to the poor performance of public sector education," they said in the press statement.

The trainee-teachers are particularly upset about the attitude of sector minister, Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang, an educationist and a former University Vice Chancellor, who ideally should have proactively been addressing challenges in the educational sector.

It would be recalled that the Mahama government, which has become very unpopular in the country due to its mismanagement of the economy, cancelled the teacher trainees' allowances, claiming the decision was aimed at ensuring more intake and equity.

Apart from the decision to restore the allowances, the "NPP will encourage the Colleges of Education to update their curricula to ensure they produce graduates that would teach the well-equipped and critical thinking population we need to move the country forward."

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