SCRAP THE BOARDING SYSTEM OF COLLEGES OF EDUCATION -VIAM TELLS GOVERNMENT

A policy and research Think Tank,
VIAM Africa Centre for Education and
Social Policy, has challenged the
government of Ghana to make
teacher trainees more responsible by
scrapping the boarding system in
the Colleges of Education.
According to the Executive Director
of the Center, Dr. Prince Armah,
Government’s transformation of the
Colleges into tertiary status, will be
meaningless if teacher trainees are
still treated as if they were in senior
high schools.
Dr. Armah says teachers are trained
to be leaders not only in the
classrooms but in the larger society,
and thus must be given the
opportunity to make their own
decisions and be responsible for
their actions.
According to him, if the Colleges of
Education are now equal to the
universities and polytechnics by law,
then teacher trainees should not be
accommodated under the boarding
system with uniforms and exeat to
leave campus, just as it’s the case in
the universities.
“Beyond the issues of financing, we
are talking about the change in
status, which is moving the colleges
of Education to tertiary institutions.
And as we speak now, the way the
system runs, it’s like they are in a
secondary school. We are of the
opinion that the boarding facilities
must also be scrapped going forward
because the universities do not have
such boarding facilities. We want
the training colleges to be given
that opportunity to manage their
own lives. The Training Colleges
should move away from wearing
uniforms and asking students to get
exeat and all those things. These are
situations that pertain in the senior
high schools but for people, who we
are training to become teachers and
leaders in the classrooms, they must
be given those opportunities to live
their own lives and be responsible
for their actions.”
Although the Center has
commended Government for
scrapping the payment of monthly
allowance to teacher trainees since
they also support the view that it
has outlived its usefulness, it
believes that maintaining the
boarding system amongst others,
will mean that the policy to upgrade
Colleges of Education has not been
fully beneficial.
On the scrapping of the allowance,
Dr. Prince Armah said government
would be able to save around Ghc12
million monthly to improve
educational infrastructure across the
country.
Government replaced the payment of
trainee allowances with the tertiary
student loan in 2012.
Opponents of the new policy,
including the New Patriotic Party,
NPP, have largely argued that the
removal of the allowances will
impede access to the Colleges of
Education and rather create more
problems than what it seeks to cure.
The NPP has vowed to restore the
allowances for both trainee teachers
and nurses when voted into power.
Information from the Ghana
Education Service (GES) shows that,
9,000 out of the 15,000 teacher
trainees admitted in 2014, have
since applied and received loans
from Student Loan Trust Fund.
Speaking to Citi News, Dr. Armah
said while the scrapping of the
policy will serve the best interest of
the country, Government must fully
implement its policy of transforming
teacher training colleges to tertiary
status.
“If we are to take the World Bank
statistics of 27,000 enrollment, then
we are talking about Ghc12 million,
monthly at Ghc450 (net) per trainee.
So this is what the government
could be saving as a result of
scrapping this policy. The point then
is that, what is the government
going to use these monies for? Once
you do that, you might want to
spend more on infrastructure and
provide more ICT facilities and
laboratories. A lot of the training
colleges, especially those in the
Northern region, don’t even match
up to a secondary school”.
Previously, teacher trainees were fed
three times a day by government.
However with the upgrade of
Colleges of Education, trainees now
pay for their feeding but government
eventually reimburses them.
Trainees have complained in recent
times, that government does not
reimburse them on time.
Dr. Armah says if the boarding
system is scrapped for trainee
teachers, government could save
additional Ghc32 million annually.
Below is VIAM Africa’s full
statement issued in Aberdeen, UK
VIAM Africa Centre for Education and
Social Policy wishes to advise the
Government of Ghana to remain
resolute and steadfast on its policy
decision to abolish allowances for
teacher trainees, while calling for
broader stakeholder consolations to
address quality and equity issues.
We also urge opponents of the policy
to proceed from an evidenced-based
perspective of their policy stance,
rather than emotional arguments.
The allowance paid to teacher
trainees at the Colleges of Education
(CoEs) of Ghana was introduced in
the 1960s as part of Dr. Kwame
Nkrumah’s agenda to attract more
people into the teaching profession.
The policy was repealed in the early
1970s but had to be reinstated in
the 1980s, following the mass
exodus of Ghanaian teachers to
Nigeria. In 2012, the Government
replaced it (with a tertiary student
loan). Three major reasons underlie
the current policy direction as
captured by the Government’s
Education Strategic Plan covering
2010-2020.
First, CoEs had been upgraded into
tertiary institutions following the
passage of the Colleges of Education
Act (Act 847 of 2012), and in so
doing, payment of trainee allowances
was no longer justified. Trainees
would have to apply for funding as
their colleagues at the universities
that provide initial teacher training
services (e.g. University of Education,
Winneba [UEW] and University of
Cape Coast [UCC]). Second, the
training colleges admitted students
based on government allocated
quota of trainee allowances,
resulting in limited intake despite
availability of facilities for more
student teachers. Therefore the
removal of the quota system meant
that COEs that had capacity could
increase their intake.
The third reason appears to have
been influenced by the
Government’s commitment to
significantly reduce the wage bill at
the basic education level (primary to
junior high school). According to The
World Bank, about nine thousand
teacher trainees enrolled every year
resulting in estimated student
population of 27,000 which currently
represents about 10 percent of basic
education’ wage bill.
Opponents of the policy have largely
argued that, removal of the
allowances would impede access to
the CoE, and rather create more
problems than what it seeks to cure.
According the Ghana National
Association Teachers and other civil
society groups, withdrawal of the
allowances would result in lower
enrolment since it would increase
the cost of education for applicants.
This, they argue, would further
exacerbate the problem of teacher
shortage facing the country. On the
contrary, official reports indicate
that there has been a significant
increase in enrolment at the CoE
since the withdrawal of the
allowance for teacher trainees, from
9,000 students in 2013 to 15,000
students in the 2014 academic year
(60% increase).
However, this could also be
attributed to a number of factors
including the fact that two cohorts of
senior high school students
completed their programme in that
year. Having considered these
varying positions, VIAM Africa is of
the considered opinion that the
policy decision to abolish allowances
for teacher trainees needs to be
maintained, although mechanisms
for broader stakeholder consultations
to address quality and equity issues
need to be factored into the policy
discussions. We outline our main
arguments as follows:
1. The withdrawal of the allowance
has ultimately led to the
abolishment of the quota system
thereby increasing enrolment rates.
Hitherto, the allowances had created
a perverse set of incentives creating
an artificial ceiling on student
intake. The limitations on student
enrolment at the CoEs should be on
the basis of available facilities and
not quotas.
2. Given that high number of already
trained teachers are awaiting
appointment to the service due to
financial constraints , we think that
it is more financially prudent in the
short to medium term to expend the
foregone allowances to get these
already trained teachers into the
classrooms to deliver much needed
tutelage instead of having to wait
another three years. This is
particularly important given the
freeze on net employment across the
government service sector, especially
in all public schools, as a result of
budget condionalities and an
already constricted education budget
of which greater proportion goes into
compensation of employees.
3. Positive impact on public finances
as this frees up liquidity for the
government which can be used for
other pressing social interventions
such as building classroom blocks
and providing more instructional
resources. Students borrow from
SNNIT of which the amount stays on
their balance sheet as compared to
the government’s budget. Payment
terms spread over many years thus
reduces the burden on students
(minimal impact). Amount given the
students now is much bigger than
the old allowances and thus gives
them much bigger consumption
power
4. Special funding/sponsorship
beyond the current student loans
scheme should be made available for
anybody who wants to go into
teaching which should not be
automatic, but applied for. There are
several approaches that can be
adopted but we suggest two
perspectives. First, a meritorious
grant system that awards a
stipulated fund to high achievers
from West Africa Senior Secondary
Certificate Examinations to train as
teachers for the basic education
sector. These students should then
be put on a career pathway that
leads to advanced practitioners in
their field and future leaders in the
sector.
The second approach is to award
special grants to students from
disadvantaged backgrounds. Whilst
the withdrawal of the allowances
could potentially increase access due
to the abolishment of the quota
system, this arrangement would
adversely affect less privileged
individuals from accessing teacher
training education which raises
equity issues. For this reason, the
Government through the
Metropolitan and District Assemblies
should adopt need based
assessment of individuals who have
strong commitment to train as
teachers but have no secure funding
source, and might not qualify under
the student loan scheme.
Beyond the scraping of the
allowance, we recommend that
trainee teachers must be offered the
opportunity to live their own life and
take responsibility for their action, in
order to develop the requisite
attitude and values they would need
to succeed as leaders of their
classrooms. They must be afforded
the opportunity to experience the
social life that their colleagues in
other tertiary institutions enjoy.
We recommend the provision of
hostel facilities instead of the
present boarding system as in the
case of all tertiary institutions in
Ghana. This should also mean that,
wearing prescribed school uniforms,
taking exeats, responding to school
bells, weeding and cleaning
compounds, among others, which
pertain in the training colleges,
should be abolished. These
suggestions fit in a broader
attributes of developing responsible
citizens and professionals.
We believe initial teacher training
should be situated within a much
broader framework of teacher
education and continuous
development to ensure Ghana
recruits and retains teachers who
are motivated, innovative and
inspiring. VIAM wishes to urge the
Ghanaian public, especially the
political parties to engage in
broader stakeholder consultations in
defining their manifestoes in the
run up to the 2016 General
Elections. We are willing to leverage
on our broad array of network of
experts to help drive such agenda.
Signed
Dr. Prince Armah

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