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The National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) has called for a national stakeholder engagement to analyse and review the Free Senior High School (SHS) policy.
That, it said, was to improve upon the system.
“The fact is Free SHS policy goes beyond the payment or non-payment of fees, but also the survival of the general school system,” the President of NAGRAT, Mr Eric Agbe-Carbonu, said at a press conference in Accra yesterday ahead of the May Day celebrations.
He said while there was no doubt about the benefits of Free SHS, it was important to improve upon its delivery, thus a stakeholders’ engagement was one of the key ways of discussing the issue on a non-partisan basis with the aim of finding a solution to achieve the object of that policy without putting one party, in this case, the schools, at a disadvantage.
The NAGRAT Chairman indicated that apart from the feeding fees, there were other fees on the bill that catered for the day-to-day running of SHSs across the country; however, with a freeze on all forms of payment by parents, many SHSs were suffering, hence the need for the stakeholder engagement to find a solution.
“We also have challenges with the payment of electricity, especially bills of schools that are on prepaid meters. On a daily basis, challenges develop for school management to address,” he said, adding that “the situation currently makes it difficult or impossible for school managers to solve recurrent and intermittent challenges”.
He further raised concerns about the supply from the buffer stock, and therefore, called for a re-look at the role of the buffer stock in supplying food items to the schools.
Mr Agbe-Carbonu noted that with the current technological age where the application of information and communication technology had become very paramount, the association would like to thank the government for facilitating the purchase and supply of laptops to teachers.
“We call on the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service to ensure that technology plays a functional role in education and education delivery.
“All obstacles in the use and application of ICT in education delivery should be consciously removed,” he said.
The NAGRAT President said there were still challenges with salaries and allowances affecting the Ghanaian teacher and mentioned delays with the payment of responsibility allowances and salary arrears as examples.
He attributed the problem to delays in transferring information from district and regional offices, and called on authorities at the Ministry of Education and the GES to quickly resolve such issues to raise the morale of teachers.
Mr Agbe-Carbonu said Ghanaians were celebrating the 2021 May Day amid a sudden escalation of prices of goods and services in the country.
For instance, he said a bag of cement sold for GH¢34 just about this time last year but was now going for GH¢50.
Again, he said the price of iron rods, chippings and other building materials had shot up, and that “the numerous fuel price increases had also contributed to the general price increases that had affected Ghanaian workers in general and the teacher in particular.”
“While contending with these numerous price increases, workers heard with shock that an economic advisor to government announced a government wage freeze for the next three years.
“We are happy that government officials, labour watchers and labour unions have condemned the unacceptable announcement,” he said.
Mr Agbe-Carbonu said the union was happy that negotiation on the minimum wage had commenced and that discussions on the base pay would also start soon. He added that “a substantial increase in the salaries of workers will help cushion workers from the economic pressure affecting us”.
He also expressed concern about the appointment of political activists to some management positions in the public and civil service.
He said such an action by politicians did not only demotivate and demoralise the worker but also compromised the non-partisan and impartial characteristic of the public and civil services.