The Executive Director of Africa Education Watch (Eduwatch), Kofi Asare, has questioned the justification for the teachers allowance scheme carried out by government.
Mr Asare revealed that if the premise for giving teachers allowances are to motivate them to take up postings in rural areas, then government ought to relook that position. He explained that despite the teacher trainee allowances, fewer teachers take up postings in deprived areas, thereby broadening the education divide.
“If the rationale or justification for having the teacher allowance scheme is that it enables teachers to be bound by virtue of their enjoying that particular grant to accept postings in deprived areas, then by now after decades of implementing this policy, we should have had, if not optimum number of deprived areas, at least we shouldn’t have had an oversupply of teachers in urban areas.”Kofi Asare
Mr Asare iterated that data from the Education Ministry suggests that although there was a record number of graduate teachers leaving Colleges of Education in 2020, very few of them ended up taking postings to deprived areas. He noted that there although there were about 17,000 primary school teachers that were more than the number of primary school classrooms in the country, the dperived areas had a deficit of teachers.
“… Note that the primary school level is one teacher to one classroom. We had 15,000 more teachers in primary schools nationally than the number of classrooms. Now, if you go to the deprived 75 districts, where these teachers most of them are supposed to go because these are where the remotest of communities are found, even though we had 15,000 more teachers at the primary school at the national level, in these deprived districts, there were at least 2000 empty primary school classrooms. This is as at 2020. So, we have 2000 empty primary classrooms in the 75 deprived districts and we have oversupply at the national level.”Kofi Asare
Mr Asare indicated that although the allowance given to teacher trainees may seem negligible at face value, the lump amount could be channelled to the development of infrastructure in the education sector. Citing the Gambaga College of Education, he noted that since 2017, the college has six of its infrastructural projects stalled due to lack of funds.
“Yes, 400 comes across as a fair amount that state can easily afford. But if you have in excess of 50,000 teachers benefiting, then you’re talking of about GHS250 million. If I have to quantify what GHS250 million means to a sector… In the basic education system where 5, 400 schools are taking place under trees and sheds, GHS250 million is a lot of money. It can build 500 schools straight up. So, it is not that much at the micro level, per teacher or per trainee, but it’s huge and the opportunity cost has serious ramifications…”Kofi Asare
Need to redirect teacher allowance
Justifying his stance, The Eduwatch Executive Director drew a comparison in terms of schools between the Zabzugu district and the Adenta Municipality. He opined that the Adenta Municipality had only 18 primary schools as at last year, but had 360 teachers, whereas a deprived district like Zabzugu had 55 primary schools, “three times the number of primary schools in Adenta, but Zabzugu had 100 less teachers” than Adenta. With this, he revealed that Zabzugu had 260 teachers.
The disparity, Mr Asare noted, in teacher distribution across the country does not address the need for teacher trainees to be given allowances. Contrarily, he called for a new regime where instead of teacher trainee allowances, the 400 cedis a month spent on teacher trainees are instead given to graduate teachers “because we expect that they will go to a deprived district”. He highlighted that the monies given the teachers at the end of the day will be justified when the teacher is posted to that deprived district.
“So, if you simply say that because I want to motivate you to accept postings to Zabzugu as a newly trained teacher for the next three years, I am giving you this same amount 400 cedis which is about 25% of your salary as rural allowance, wouldn’t that one be more targeted and serve a better purpose because only teachers accepting postings to rural areas, defined as deprived, would have gotten this money?”Kofi Asare
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