Concerned GNAT Chairman Challenges Education Ministry, GES

I, Rockson Boateng (District GNAT chairman for Assin South, Central Region) hereby petition your office to initiate prioritized steps to address what I have christened: ‘‘Distinctive Policy Statements on Upgrading in the Ghana Education Service (G.E.S)’’ by some district and regional offices of the Ghana Education Service. Without any scintilla of doubt, this state of aberration which is bereft of explication, presents a potent means of disadvantaging a large majority of the rank and file who are mostly youthful within the immediate future. Again, the G.E.S as an agency under the Ministry of Education (MoE) risks the chance of appointing qualified officers to positions such as District Directorship going into the future.

Apparently, the impact is an attestation to a report presented to the National Council of GNAT by the representative of GNAT serving on the GES council at its National Council meeting held on August, 31 to September 2, 2016 at Abankro, GNAT Village in the Ashanti region. Specifically, the report which covers the period of October 2015 to August 2016 clearly bemoaned the lack of Eligibility Personnel applying for Director I and above. In the report, it was pointed out that ‘‘the phenomenon of many staff on the Director I grade nearing retirement or gone on retirement and the difficulty of finding suitable replacements has become a recurrent challenge for Council (G.E.S)’’. Hence, ‘‘G.E.S Council had to renegotiate with Public Service Commission (P.S.C) to relax some of the eligibility criteria before the last interviews (then) were organized’’.

In this situation, one would have thought that, policies would have been put in place to curtail this recurring challenge by encouraging more young teachers to embark on further studies in order to go through the various G.E.S ranks rather early. Sadly, my checks portend that the situation appears to be different in most districts and regions. Thus, there seem to be an introduction of an uncoordinated policy directives by policymakers which directly affects teachers awaiting upgrading from the rank of SENIOR SUPERINTENDENT II to PRINCIPAL SUPERINTENDENT upon the completion of their 1st Degree programmes.

Needless to say, district secretariats of GNAT across the country have and continue to be inundated with official complaints from its members about non-processing of upgrading documents of teachers who are due for upgrading to the aforementioned rank. I must annotate that upon enquiries, G.E.S officials assert that the documents of the affected teachers would be processed within 7-year period counting from their Diploma graduating years. In what follows, I provide a scenario to succinctly justify the unfairness of the actions and inactions of G.E.S while seeking your deserving assistance on behalf of my colleague young teachers who have been short-changed by the phenomenon. I also raise nine analytical questions for your perusal.

THE SCENARIO.

Category A: The case of teachers who acquire diploma certificates by distance, sandwich and regular college education.

According to G.E.S, teachers in this category who have obtained their B. Ed certificates are eligible for upgrading from SNR. SUPT. II rank to PRINCIPAL SUPERINTENDENT rank only after 7-year period with the effective day of counting being the Diploma completion dates. It is instructive to point out that the stance of G.E.S on this issue is discriminatory if not warp because:

  1. Per the conditions of service, a teacher is permitted to move from SNR. SUPT. II rank to at least the PRINCIPAL SUPERITENDENT rank by further studies. Indeed, it is an entry rank into the service.
  2. According to section 19.7 X of the G.E.S Conditions of Service, the Ghana Education Service shall be responsible for the payment of Tuition and Examination fees of all employees who pursue Distance Education in approved courses and institutions. The same shall apply to certificated teachers who enrol in top-up programmes to qualify in terms of what is required to practice as a professional teacher at any given time.
  3. That the Ghana Education does not grant Study Leave to its employees to study only on weekends and on holidays. Hence, the clandestine attempt by some G.E.S officials to postulate that personnel who are ready to pay their studies fees while working for G.E.S without break of service amount to Study Leave without pay is untenable. Granting same (though without admitting), per the Collective Agreement (conditions of service), teachers who have serviced 2 to 3 years in deprived and non-deprived areas respectively, qualify for study leave with or without pay. Therefore, teachers who obtain their 1ST Degree certificates between 4 to 5years (after the completion of their Diploma Certificates) respectively are eligible for upgrading since tertiary institutions admit Diploma holders on level 300 for a continuation of their programmes.

Category B: The case of newly recruited (distance and regular) 1ST Degree teachers, and the upgrading of newly qualified professional (then unprofessional) teachers to the rank of PRINCIPAL SUPERINTENDENT).

Intriguingly, personnel within this category are placed directly on PRINCIPAL SUPT. rank and can be grouped into two. These are: Fresh recruited professional teachers from universities (regular and distance teachers) and newly upgraded (hitherto, non-professional) teachers.

Ideally, one wouldn’t have commented on this category because, PRINCIPAL SUPERINTENDENT is equally an entry rank into the Ghana Education Service as per the Conditions of Service but, to the extent that already practicing teachers who have acquired relatively higher Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) are refused upgrading and rather same opportunity being granted to personnel with relatively low PCK (newly recruited 1ST Degree teachers) exposes the lacunae within the supposed policy framework in G.E.S.

As a National Council member of GNAT, I am a witness to a current situation where two professional teachers (both distance students then) enrolled on a Distance Education programme on the same year. Thus, teacher A and B (pseudonyms) respectively. Teacher ‘A’ while enrolling was a non-professional teacher whereas teacher ‘B’ was rather self-employed. They both graduated with Diploma in Basic Education in 2014. Teacher ‘A’ working as a classroom teacher in the G.E.S was upgraded to the rank of SNR SUPT. II professional status with teacher ‘B’ at the time still self-employed. Subsequently, teacher ‘A’ and ‘B’ enrolled as B. Ed students and graduated with BEd in the same year. Breathtakingly, teacher ‘B’ (who was hitherto, self-employed and who could relatively be described as a novice teacher, is placed on PRINCIPAL SUPT. rank upon his appointment as a classroom teacher into the G.E.S and yet, teacher ‘A’ has to wait for at least, the next 7 years.

This is highly inequitable, unfortunate and impermissible. It is vitally important to stress also that within the same sector, there are variations in the upgrading process with respect to districts and regions, and the consequences in the foreseeable future could be enormous. Surely, I am unable to find answers to the following:

1. Why is it that in the same service (G.E.S), upgrading documents of teachers who completed their last professional programmes (Diploma) through Distance, Sandwich and regular College education as far back as 2013 to present have been processed by some districts and further upgraded by their respective regional directorates yet, others are refusing to process and upgrade same?

2. What will be the effective dates for upgrading these group of disadvantaged teachers since their colleagues and even juniors in some districts/regions have been upgraded long ago?

3. Could there be any legal implications in the light of this distinctive management actions and inactions?

4. Could these Distinctive Policy Statements on Teacher Upgrading undermine the current rationale for migrating Colleges of Education to award B. Ed certificates to would- be Basic Education teachers?

5. In the candid opinions of the provocateurs of these Distinctive Policy Statements on Teacher Upgrading, have they been fair to the young teachers whom they have been told to suspend their upgrading to the next 7 years?

6. In a definitive instance where teacher ‘B’ (the newly recruited), stands the chance of qualifying for the next promotion(s) ahead of teacher ‘A’ (the experienced), can the purveyors of these Distinctive Policy Statements on Teacher Upgrading justify their actions and inactions?

7. Isn’t it surprising that G.E.S continues to grant Study Leave with full pay and other connected benefits to colleague teachers who subsequently avoid postings to deprived communities (by virtue of pursuing S.H.S related courses)? Indeed, what would have happened if all teachers had applied for Study Leave with pay?

8. Aren’t these Distinctive Policy Statements on Teacher Upgrading discouraging young teachers, and disingenuous to the nation’s quest for having world-class qualified teaching personnel?

9. Why should teacher ‘A’ and ‘B’ (with the same academic qualifications) working for the same organization (G.E.S) and executing the same task be paid unequal salaries?

CONCLUSION:

According to the Labour Law (ACT 651) Every worker shall receive equal pay for equal work without distinction of any kind’ (Section 68). Inasmuch as GNAT remains a sought of pressure group, and the most formidable Teacher Union in Ghana, I do share the contemporary leadership belief that we (union leaders), have a duty to meet the expectations of the rank and file and also probe existing status quo in our pursuit to refine established frameworks. I hold the strongest conviction that this petition will receive your respected attention. Attached to this petition are copies of documents deserving your perusal.

Thank you.

…………….

Rockson Boateng

(District GNAT chairman-Assin South, Central Region)

CC:

  • THE NATIONAL PRESIDENT (GNAT)
  • THE HEAD, SALARIES & CONDITIONS OF SERVICE – GNAT HEADQUARTERS
  • REGIONAL GNAT SEC, CENTRAL REGION
  • DISTRICT GNAT, ASSIN SOUTH


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