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Opinions of Sunday, 14 June 2020

Columnist: Asamoah Eric

FOSCO students cry over administrative decision

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As teacher trainees under the governance of H.E Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, we are entitled to GH¢400.00 allowance monthly so long as we remain on campus i.e four times (months) in a semester, eight months in the academic year(in a year).

The allocation of the said amount is presented below:
* 50% i.e GH¢200.00 to student teachers
* 49% i.e GH¢196.00 to the College for feeding of trainees and
* 1% i.e GH¢4.00 to TTAG-Teacher Trainees Association of Ghana as dues.

The program for Diploma in Basic Education, DBE is structured such that the first two(2) years out the three(3) are spent on campus whilst the last year, 3rd year and final year is marked as off-campus(for attachment program).

At the beginning of the Academic year (2019/2020), the final year group who were embarking on off-campus teaching practice said that because the College is no longer going to feed us but still receive that 49% of the net allowance (GH¢400.00), the accumulated amount within the first semester alone was more than enough to settle the fees for the academic year. The college in retreat said that they needed money for other things and because they were not certain when they will receive their portion of our allowance, we needed to pay at least 70% of the academic year bill which GHC684.53. In fact, it was hell for most of us because we had already used our monies to rent rooms for our off-campus teaching practice.

We were made to pay the 70%(pay to see who the supervisor is payment policy) on the grounds that when the 49% of our allowance is paid to the College, one can even go for the balance if any.

After a while, Institute of Education, UCC, brought the exams registration fee for third years which is GHC320.00. The general consensus on our year group WhatsApp platform was that, since the College has accumulated four times of GHC196.00 totalling GH¢784.00, it was more than enough for the College to settle the exams fees on our behalf rather than going to College for the sum. We petitioned our SRC executives to work on that only to be told that the College has not enough funds to undertake that exercise. Hmmm. So the general impression was ....."wow! but we are not asking the College to pay that from their funds. We are saying that they should do that from our feeding component of the allowance sum" but yielded no results.

It is so horrible and astonishing to note that a college that thinks not about how to get candidates registered for exams *thinks greatly about how these ones can graduate*. All this denial we were facing was on the basis of the college using the said funds to arrange for our graduation ceremony(costing GH¢540.00) which was one year ahead. The general question was "how can one graduate without taking the necessary exams?"

Since the time, we have been holding discussions with our Principal only to come to hear our story but that effort landed on rocks. The College couldn't pay GH¢320.00 to get candidates registered for exams and of course, final exams but have absorbed GH¢540.00 for the graduation ceremony. We even said that, when this is done, the subsequent allowance (GH¢784.00) for this(second and current) semester should be used to settle the graduation fee scheduled for next year. They said *NO!*. Register yourself or count yourself out.

In the same vein, our Education Department is also asking us to pay GH¢80.00 for engaging us during our off-campus teaching practice meanwhile, the College through our fees paid, pay them their t&t and fuel their vehicles(those with vehicles) whenever they came for that two-hour academic engagement once a week in our cluster centres which they dilly-dallied. They are also on our neck threatening to fail anyone who does not pay. The Head of Education Department (the department hosting our off-campus program) always asking us to pay because we have our fingers in their(department's) mouth. We are all confused if it was extra classes they wanted to engage us in that they could say it plain because it's on a ban or something else because they are paid for that teaching work they do monthly. We understand it has been their practice over the years. Why should they be paid by the state and also expect us to pay them when they engage us? What then is their work? Had it be that they used their own monies for their t&t and fuel their vehicles, it would sound sensible enough.

In fact, this period has been a hell for the majority of us.

Even the President of the Country admits that we are not in normal times but Foso College of Education, FOSCO management never seem to know or hear of it.

We are being strangled. We are voiceless.