His Excellency, President John Dramani Mahama, Head of State of the Republic of Ghana
Honourable Ministers of State
Director General of the Ghana Education Service
Heads of Unions in Education
Distinguished Award Winners
Ladies and Gentlemen
On behalf of the Unions in Education, I wish to extend our warmest compliments to all of you who have gathered here in solidarity with teachers in this country.
Since the year 1994, October 5 every year has been set aside to celebrate, honour, encourage and support teachers in our demanding job which is aimed at training the manpower resource the nation needs for her development.
The theme for this year’s World Teachers’ Day is, “Valuing Teachers, Improving their Status”.
The Unions in Education believe that valuing teachers and all education personnel should entail the provision of decent working conditions, professional autonomy, academic freedom, high quality initial training and continuous professional development, among others.
The world over, governments are being reminded of their obligation to improve the status of the teaching profession. It is important to note also that, teaching needs to be valued culturally.
We wish to remind our teachers all over the country that we have been called into a noble profession which demands that we teach the students, not the subject in order to bring about assimilated learning.
The Unions in Education appeal to our members to conduct themselves professionally in the discharge of their duties and their community lives as well.
The Unions in Education would like to commend Government for the construction of Community Day Senior High Schools at various locations in the country to improve access to education at that level. Some Junior High School graduates who would have otherwise found it difficult to access Senior High School Education on account of the fact that their parents could not afford paying for their boarding; now have the opportunity at their doorstep.
We, however, wish to appeal to Government to include in the plan of future Community Day Senior High Schools, blocks to house teachers who would teach in such schools.
PROMOTIONS IN GHANA EDUCATION SERVICE (GES)
Mr. Chairman, Your Excellency, ladies and gentlemen, one thing that continues to bother teachers in this country is the delays in promotions within the GES. As I speak, GES Staff who were due for promotion last academic year are still waiting and a new academic year had begun.
This situation leads to frustration among the affected teachers which trickles down to low morale and its concomitant negative impact on quality education delivery. We urge Management of the Ghana Education Service to tackle this pressing issue with dispatch.
In the GES, promotions take effect from 1st September of each academic year. It must be noted that if the pending promotion interviews are conducted, the effective date of promotion shall be 1st September, 2016. This promotion, the Unions in Education will not compromise.
We urge the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC), the Audit Service and the Ministry of Finance to expedite action on the Validation Exercise to ensure that all outstanding arrears are paid to teachers by the end of October, 2016 as agreed upon by the parties.
TEACHING AND LEARNING MATERIALS
Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, the Unions in Education find it difficult to understand why the Ghana Education Service (GES) does not prioritize the provision of Teaching and Learning Materials (TLMs) for teachers to do their work.
We, as professionals, know that the non or inadequate provision of TLMs inhibits the work of teachers. It is common knowledge however, that teachers must be well resourced to be able to perform their professional duties as required of them.
CODE OF CONDUCT
Mr. Chairman, it is heart-warming to note that the final draft of the Code of Conduct for GES staff has been completed. The Unions in Education therefore, expect the GES Management to sign this document together with the Union representatives without delay to make it operational. This will create the avenue for negotiation on our Collective Agreement to commence.
COMMERCIALISATION OF EDUCATION
Mr. Chairman, Your Excellency, ladies and gentlemen, it is very worrying that some development partners have decided to allocate resources to “for-profit” private operators of schools in this country. Today, these schools, popularly called “low-fee private schools” have been imposed on poor people in slums and peri-urban areas.
The “low –fee private schools are schools that claim to be affordable and serve poor people. However, research in several countries, including Ghana has shown that they are not affordable.
As Unions in Education, we know that private sector participation in education dates back to the Castle Schools and that the private sector had been a dependable partner to Government in education delivery.
What is worrying, Mr. Chairman, is that the emergence of these “low-fee private schools” end up exploiting the poor.
The mushrooming of such schools also poses a threat to public education as well as the teaching profession. It has reduced teaching to the only profession in Ghana where experience is not required in recruitment.
The Unions in Education urge Government to take a close look at the operations of these schools to save poor parents from further exploitation.
The Unions in Education appeal to all Ghanaians, especially members of the political parties to be mindful of their civic responsibilities towards the country in terms of their utterances in the run up to the December 7 Presidential and Parliamentary elections.
We entreat all teachers in the country, particularly those whose services may be required by the Electoral Commission to be fair and transparent in whatever roles they will perform for Mother Ghana.
GNAT ASSISTS THE NEEDY
Mr. Chairman, Your Excellency, Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, GNAT continues with its tradition of lending a helping hand to the less privileged each year in the region which hosts the World Teachers’ Day.
In pursuance of our tradition therefore, this year, the Kwanteng D/A Primary School in the Asutifi South District of the Brong-Ahafo Region will benefit from a 2 – Unit Pavilion Classroom Block for the Kindergarten Department.
Mr. Chairman, in addition to that, fifty (50) pupils/students from Baniantwer SDA Basic in the Kintampo District and Mensahkrom SDA Basic in the Sunyani Municipality have been provided with school attire, school bags, canvas boots, textbooks and stationery to motivate them to go to school.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, I wish to, on behalf of the Unions in Education, congratulate our hardworking award winners for making us proud.
They have won various awards in recognition of their dedication to duty in spite of the numerous challenges we face in our noble profession.
Before I resume my seat, I would like to humbly ask His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Ghana to present a school bag to a pupil on our behalf.
MS. PHILIPPA LARSEN
(AG. NATIONAL PRESIDENT, GNAT)
ON BEHALF OF THE UNIONS IN EDUCATION