The Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), has described as untrue a claim by the Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, during the mid-year budget review that the government had paid all arrears owed teachers in the country.
The General Secretary of GNAT, Mr David Ofori Acheampong, who was credited with the denial, said the Finance Minister was either not briefed properly or was engaging in political propaganda.
“As we speak now, we are aware of efforts being made by the Minster of Employment and Labour, Controller and Accountant General Department (CAGD) and its consultant to pay the arrears of over 10,000 out of a total of 30,000 of teachers through a supplementary payment voucher after the July salaries have been paid,” he said.
Mr Acheampong made the denial in an address read for him by Mr Kwamena Ahenakwa-Quarshie, Head of Department, Salaries and Working Conditions at GNAT, during the closing ceremony of the week-long 56th Ghana National Association of Teachers/Canadian Teachers Federation (CTF) professional development programme in Kumasi.
A total of 160 teachers from the Northern region attended the one-week capacity building workshop being organized in batches by GNAT/CTF for 480 teachers from the northern, upper east and west as well as those from the Brong Ahafo region.
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Some of the participants who had only served between one and three years in the teaching service, were taken through lessons in mentorship while all the participants had the opportunity to be trained in lessons in professional development.
The Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) in collaboration with the Canadian Teachers Federation had for the past 56 years engaged in capacity building and exchange programmes with the aim of enhancing teaching and learning in the two countries as well as deepening cultural ties.
Since inception, the collaboration has helped GNAT in the formation of a credit union for GNAT members across the country, award of bursaries to female teachers to further their studies in the areas of gender, book development, ‘Nkabom’ and mentorship for new teachers and head teachers.
Pension Fund issues
The General Secretary insisted that the Finance Minister’s statement that it had been able to transfer an amount of Gh3,001.73 million being the total value of funds in the Temporary Pension Fund account for the restoration of five public sector workers pension after seven years agitation demanding the fund was also not true.
He was emphatic that the Ghana Education Service Occupational Pension Scheme’s portion of the 80 months’ arrears of the Temporary Pension Fund Account (TPFA) had not been released.
Mr Acheampong wondered why the National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA) which was the regulator of pensions had turned itself into both the custodian and pension fund manager investing the GES portion of the TPFA with the excuse that the GES had no custodian, describing the NPRA action as being a violation of its own guidance and regulations and the National Pensions Act 2008, (Act 766).
“If we had no custodian, how come the NPRA had since September, 2016 been paying funds into our scheme (Universal Merchant Bank) every month to-date”, he quipped.
Mr Acheampong was surprised why the NPRA had released the 80 months arrears for instance to the Ghana Health Service, The Judicial Service Association of Ghana (JUSSAG) and that of the Ghana Civil and Local Government Service Association of Ghana (CLOSSAG) but had refused to release that of the GES.
The General Secretary appealed to the government as a matter of urgency to take action on the two issues affecting teachers since all its members were running out of patience, adding that if nothing was heard about the two issues by the end of August, GNAT would come out with various initiatives that would compel the government to listen to their grievances.
He called on all teachers to remain calm and wait for the reaction of government on the issues before commencing any action, which he said would prompt the government to give them what was due them.
The Ashanti Regional Director of Education, Mrs Mary Owusu Achaw, in an address read for her, commended GNAT and CTF for the capacity building workshop to enhance effective teaching and learning in schools.
She confirmed that the quality of training offered teachers and the systematic support for their professional growth are what would ensure that the education system reaped the full benefits of teacher’s contribution to quality education.