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Tamale North Member of Parliament, Alhassan Suhuyini, is attributing the existing financial challenges at the country’s Colleges of Education to the politicization of the training of teachers.
He says the failure of the government to properly convert the Colleges into true tertiary institutions is to blame for the woes these institutions are confronted with.
Despite the Colleges’ conversion from training colleges into degree-awarding institutions, students are still fed and accommodated in a boarding environment similar to the situation at the Senior High School level.
The possibility of the withdrawal of feeding due to the non-payment of arrears has triggered questions about whether it is necessary for the government to continue to pay for the feeding of teacher trainees.
But Alhassan Suhuyini, also a former teacher contends the solutions to these concerns can be found if the issues are devoid of partisan politics arguing that successive governments have been faulted in implementing the proposals made in this regard.
“The Prof. Anamuah Mensah’s Education Committee, part of it captured the recommendation of cost-sharing to be introduced at the teacher trainee level. It’s interesting that some items identified to be shared between students, parents, and government reveal what is happening now. For example, meals were to be borne by students. The committee said the government for the time being should pay allowances and reduce it from time to time.”
“So some of these existing issues are outcomes of our politics because we have failed in implementing some of these recommendations by the professionals because of political expediency over the years. When the economy is hard hit and the government is unable to make the monies available we experience some of these challenges. If we want to treat the Colleges as tertiary institutions and get the best out of them, then the partisanship and politics must leave our discourse”.
Teacher trainees had vowed to resist all attempts to deprive them of their three square meals per day, although the Principals said the directive was the best option to prevent a disruption in the schools’ academic calendar.
The government through the Finance Ministry has responded by releasing GH¢67,942,662 to principals of the various Public Colleges of Education to salvage the situation.
It is however not clear whether the amount released by the government is sufficient to clear all the debt to pave the way for suppliers to supply food to the schools.
The development has raised questions about why tertiary students, like those in the teacher training colleges, should be fed by the State.
But the Chairman of the Conference of Principals of Colleges of Education (PRINCOF), Dr. Emmanuel Nyamekye, says the current structures in the various Colleges of Education make it necessary for teacher trainees to be fed.
According to him, although Colleges of Education are tertiary institutions, they cannot be run like universities where students feed themselves.
“They [Colleges of Education] are what I call a special group of people. Special in the sense that, in the Colleges of Education, we have dormitories and not halls of residence, so if we ask them to feed themselves it is going to be very difficult because they are not in the position to do so because of the structures that they use.”