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Opinions of Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Columnist: Nkrumah, Cyril K. Dzidedi

The scrapped allowances; Ghana's bright future

By Nkrumah Cyril K. Dzidedi

It's 9:38 as I write this piece. It's also 6/12/16, a day to the 7th General Election of Ghana. It is a dead heat between the incumbent President, H.E John Dramani Mahama, of the NDC and the leader of Ghana's biggest opposition party, Nana Addo Dankwah Akuffo Addo, of the NPP. The former is the 6th President of the 4th Republic and the latter, a former Attorney General and a three time Presidential Candidate, this being his third and final bid.

I have intentionally chosen this time to write this piece so as it is what you should remember before you cast your vote today.

The current President took one major decision during his first term of office and it has enough whims and caprices to either give him a second term or otherwise. What is more, the President asserted his decision once more when he tweeted "If because of the scrapped allowances people want to vote against him and make him lose, then he is at peace with himself." (not paraphrasing). He's got balls huh?

He scrapped the allowances of teachers and nurses in the country. This was the decision he made and stood by. There were pleas for clemency and threats issued for the decision to be rescinded, but I guess the President had girdles around his loins and was at his best dead goat syndrome.

Few or none bothered about the reasons ascribed to the scrapping of the allowances, and of course, the opposition tooted it higher than the sound of an ambulance. The NPP simply says it would restore the allowances if elected into office, inducing and coaxing the aggrieved victims. It would not be surprising quite a number of the teacher and nursing trainee students would vote for Nana Akuffo Addo and the NPP.

Personally, I feel this is one of the instances some could site a media cabal. I am yet to hear a single radio station, television network or a print media clearly outlining the reasons for which the allowances were scrapped. Is it news to them? Yes, the scrapping alone is.

The Government itself hasn't touted this serious enough and the NPP do know their intellect craft, they swiftly delivered a heartfelt message, we would restore it. This is regardless of the fact that it has ever been a decision they pondered over themselves in 2008 and have a cabinet memo to that effect. One would have then thought they shudder rather claim the torch bearer of the idea and solidify their pioneering stance of major social intervention programs. Instead, they sput on it and made it politics, afterall, votes matter.

I support the President in this regard, I don't support his handling of the GYEEDA issue and the Bus Branding saga. More heads should have rolled. Our monies should have been paid with dispatch.
I support the scrapping of the teacher and nursing trainee allowances and this is why.

1. Tertiary institutions include the universities, polytechnics, teacher and nursing training colleges. Admission into the universities and polytechnics doesn't require that you write and entrance examination and go for an interview, save for a few selected programs, like Medicine. In a sharp contrast, admission into the teacher and nursing training colleges has a very rigorous process. One ought to have written an entrance examination and gone for an interview. The interview and exams is not to necessarily select the best students but to plummet the number of applicants due to a quota system in practise. The Quota system is as a result of the Government paying allowances yearly. As such, a cap on the number of intakes is appropriate to meet their expenditure target coupled with infrastructure provisions. In so, there may be 3000 applications received by a particular training college but as little as the mustard seed of 300 or less is picked by each school.
As to the 300 who get picked, it's lucrative area for favoritism, nepotism, bribery and corruption.

Any avid and objective person would then agree that the scrapping of the allowances have made room for higher intakes and so would increase enrollment immensely. This is the case as since the effect of the policy, enrollment into the teacher training colleges have increased by 63% as at 2013.

2. This is a special case for the teacher training colleges. They are fed thrice daily and are paid monthly allowances. Save for the new policy where they would need clearance from the Finance Ministry before they are absorbed into the teaching sector so as to do away with "ghost names", their employment is assured.
The employment of those in the Universities of Winneba, Capecoast, UDS and Legon, who also train teachers is also assured and secured. But these group of students are on the Student's Loan Trust Fund.
The universities award degrees. Hitherto, the training colleges awarded Diploma Certificates but now, they have also been cleared and elevated to Degree Awarding Institutions. Verily, equity has to be established and justice served. In so doing, Government then rightly scrapped the allowances and asked that they also merit same treatments as other compatriots of theirs in the Universities. They should be migrated onto the Students Loan Trust Fund. Albeit, their feeding be maintained.

3. Finally, we all bemoan the deficit in the teacher to students ratio and nurse to patient ratio. It is abysmal and appalling. Why won't we then appreciate a decision taken by government that seeks to curb this or improve the situation, as it were.

In my closing statements, it is my hope that as a people we should be political but not partisan. Let us praise good, and shame evil. We are voting tomorrow and as the singularity of my thoughts posit, "we need a change in governance, not governments; we need a change in leadership, not leaders".

Let us vote right and make Ghana a peaceful place for the future generations. Ghana is developing and we need to jealously guard it and posses a positive development mentalist attitude.

God bless us all.


#TheThirdEye.

11:01, 6/12/16.