Teacher trainee allowance should be scrapped - IMANI

IMANI-Africa believes that such funds should be channelled into improving the working conditions of teachers in the rural areas.

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The teacher trainee allowance policy was introduced in the 1960s as part of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s agenda to attract more people into the teaching profession.

But the previous John Mahama-led administration abolished it in 2014 and replaced it with a student loan and feeding grant policy.

It explained that the move was a barter for increased enrolment in colleges of education and upgrade of the status of such institutions. But many did not agree with the decision.

The governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) after assuming power this year promised to restore the payment of the allowances effective September 2017.

But IMANI-Africa in a statement said that the payment was unnecessary.

“The teaching profession has generally become unattractive as about 75 percent of teachers will not recommend the profession to others due to low levels of job satisfaction and poor working condition, which is some of the major reasons for high teacher attrition. The re-introduction of the teacher training allowance can potentially compound the challenges as there could be a re-emergence of the quota system. The GHS 103 million allocated means an allowance of GHS 198 per month per student compared to the GHS 450 per month enjoyed previously,” the statement said.

Below is the full statement:

Ministry of Education & Government Should Consider Scrapping Teacher Trainee Allowance & Channel Funds into Improving Working Conditions of Teachers in Rural Areas.--- IMANI

1.The 2017 Budget placed teachers at the heart of quality education delivery. To motivate and encourage people to train as teachers, the budget announced the reinstitution of Teacher Trainee allowance: “… to make Colleges of Education freely accessible to all eligible students and train teachers to drive quality education provision, Government will fully restore the payment of teacher trainee allowances, effective September 2017 …”. A provision of GHS 103 million (USD 23.5 million) has been made for the payment of allowances to all 43,570 trainees in the 43 public Colleges of Education[3] (COE).

2. This policy was introduced in the 1960s as part of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s agenda to attract more people into the teaching profession. It was repealed in the early 1970s but had to be reinstated in the 1980s due to mass exodus of Ghanaian teachers to Nigeria. In 2014, the erstwhile NDC government abolished and replaced it with a student loan and feeding grant policy. Despite the implementation challenges in the form of delays in feeding grant payment and the resistance from the student front, student enrolment in the Colleges of Education increased from 33,526 in 2013/14 to 41,984 in 2015/16 (25 percent)[4].

3. Outside the political twist of whether or not to maintain the teacher trainee allowance, quality education delivery in Ghana is still riddled with a lot of challenges. There is a teacher deficit gap of 45,000 that needs to be met in order to achieve universal basic education. At the same time, teacher attrition rate is approximately 7,000 per year[5]. Other pressing challenges include poor and inadequate infrastructure and poor working conditions especially in the rural areas. It is worth noting that out of the GHS 166 million allocated to the COEs; capital expenditure (CAPEX) which is only 5.4% is also funded by Internally Generated Funds (IGFs).

4. The teaching profession has generally become unattractive as about 75 percent of teachers will not recommend the profession to others due to low levels of job satisfaction and poor working condition, which is some of the major reasons for high teacher attrition. The re-introduction of the teacher training allowance can potentially compound the challenges as there could be a re-emergence of the quota system. The GHS 103 million allocated means an allowance of GHS 198 per month per student compared to the GHS 450 per month enjoyed previously.

5. Given that enrolment increased by 25 percent[6] in 2015/16 academic year even after removing the teacher trainee allowance, it will be prudent for the government to explore the reasons underpinning the increase. Resources spent on the teacher trainee allowance policy can be channeled to more critical and sustainable use such as improving working conditions of teachers especially in the rural areas. Improving working conditions on its own can attract more talented and brilliant students to the profession and significantly reduce the teacher attrition. This can significantly reduce the 45,000 deficit.

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