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Opinions of Friday, 11 September 2020

Columnist: Mutaka Adam, Contributor

Indifference of GES towards the plights of their audit suspended staff

File Photo: Ghana Education ServiceFile Photo: Ghana Education Service

The Ghana Education Service is an agency of government under the Ministry of Education. It superintends over matters relating to education in Ghana. So, some of its actions and inactions have contributed to the fall or otherwise; the living standards of teachers and other workers of the educational industry in the country. Employees are the lifeblood of every institution.

And GES is no exception. So, GES is clothed with the responsibility to ensure that, the primary welfare of workers beneath their lash are is taken care of. The workers under the ambit of GES have tried as much as they can, to live up to the demands of their employer. As the saying goes, "One good turn deserves another", it is now upon GES to execute their part of the bargain.

It is highly disheartening, how our employer: the GES has given weak countenance to the Audit Service of Ghana to suspend the salaries 14,345 of their staff through foul and fair. I wonder why GES was so handicapped to the extend that they did not see it coming or they saw it and did nothing to minimize the casualties, as there was a way to that. I feel that GES have literally left their flock to themselves. If so is the attitude of the Shepherd, then God save the flock.

The Audit Service, by way of implementing the the findings of the 2018 nationwide payroll audit, wrongly suspended the the salaries of genuine staff of GES. And I am among the affected staff. So, allow me to continue. The GES and Audit Service, after allowing the horses to bolt; they decided thereafter, to close the stables.

So, the Director General of GES issued a communiqué to all regional and district, municipal and metropolitan directors of education to compile names of GES staff who know that their names were wrongly suspended. We the affected staff were made to follow a process to have our salaries reactivated for us. This is what we were asked to do:

Everyone of us was to write application for salary reinstatement through our heads and addressed it to the Director General of Education. The application was to be first submitted in *person* to our school heads with copies of the following documents:

* GES appointment letter

*Assumption of duty letter

*Certificate used for employment

*Biometric slip

*Promotion letter (if you have any)

*Transfer/ Reposting letter (if you have any)

*Upgrade letter (if you have any)

Our heads were to verify the authenticity of the documents and make sure, *without fail*, that copies of the verified application were placed in our files at the school level.

After our heads had verified our documents and confirmed our physical existence as staff of the school, they would issue cover letters to us to be submitted at the District Education Office with copies of the attached documents.

We were told that,

By the time of July validation, if our names were NOT on our schools' electronic salary vouchers, our heads were to ADD us as MISSING STAFF.

(We are now in September, yet we have not been paid)

The District Education Director would receive the application from us and further verify the authenticity of the attached documents and made sure that, copies of the verified application and verified documents were filed at the district office for further verification by the staff of the Audit Service.

District Education Director proceeded to compile a list of verified staff of the district; using the APPROVAL AUDIT TEMPLATE.

Approved list from DEO was transmitted electronically to the regional directorate.

Regional Directorates also compiled their regional lists and forwarded them electronically to the office of the Director-General at the headquarters.

Headquarters was to compile a national list and then forward same to the office of the Auditor General for salaries of the wrongly suspended staff to be duly restored.

A few weeks later, our IPPD Officers were asked to bring our files to the REOs for workers of Audit to come and audit their contents. And so, they did. I am very certain that, if the Audit Service had taken their time to give us the opportunity to prove our legitimacy on government payroll, before they kindle their fires of suspension, their list of victims would have been a bit shorter. Audit Service and CAGD have our contacts. What prevented them from reaching us via text to raise the concerns they have regarding us? They should have used a fine mesh to sieve their flour well, before going ahead to use it to stir the TZ.

Since we were made to go through the above process, we the affected staff have not been formally communicated to; by either GES or Audit Service or both. And the loud silence of GES in this matter is so deafening. We have been made to believe that GES has neglected us. We have not been paid for almost four months and yet our employer has no formal words of consolation and reassurance for us. This month, the affected staff of Ghana Health Service have been cleared and paid. But us, it is as though we have been left to battle it out on our own. If not for the benevolence of virtual space, we would have known nothing.

Some confirmed reports reaching us have indicated that, Audit Service have gone through the list given to them and selected some list of names which they have forwarded to CAGD to work on.

I am very sure that, Audit Service have given a copy of the verified staff to GES headquarters. And why has GES headquarters not found it expedient to sort out the list on regional bases and send those to their respective regional education offices? Then the REOs too could sort out the Audit approved lists on district bases and send. Why? Do we not have the right to know the progress or otherwise of issues pertaining to our welfare? Times are hard. Especially in this era of covid 19. We are not in normal times and yet a section of the populace have been subjected to this form of undeserved cruelty.

I would like to appeal to GES headquarters to dispatch the audit validated list of GES staff to the regional education offices. So that they too can feed their district offices with the relevant data.

At the district level, affected staff whose names have not been captured, but nonetheless are genuine, can find out what to do so that theirs (salaries) too can be processed for reactivation.

God Bless our homeland Ghana and make her institutions great and strong.

Thank you.

Mutaka Adam

Nanumba South