NAGRAT members will not work on weekends for double track system

BY: Severious Kale-Dery & Seth J. Bokpe
General Secretary of NAGRAT, Mr Samuel Frank Dadzie
General Secretary of NAGRAT, Mr Samuel Frank Dadzie

The National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) has served notice that its members will not work on Saturdays and Sundays to support the double track system for public senior high schools.

According to the umbrella body of graduate teachers, the proposal by government for teachers to work at weekends was illegal as it contravened the country’s labour laws.

The General Secretary of NAGRAT, Mr Samuel Frank Dadzie, who said this at a national dialogue on education organised by the Daily Graphic in Accra, contended that the move would burden teachers.

The law 

Section 42 of the Labour Act 657 of 2003 states that in addition to the mandatory 30 minutes rest in the course of work and a daily continuous rest of at least 12 hours duration between two consecutive working days, a worker must be “given a rest period of 48 consecutive hours, in every seven days of normal working hours, and the rest period may, for preference, start from Saturday and end on the Sunday following, and shall wherever possible, be granted to all of the workers of the undertaking.”

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Extra duty allowance 

Mr Dadzie was, however, quick to add that the association would not kick against the system, if it would reward teachers for the extra hours.

“If government is bringing money, any teacher who is free and is willing to do weekend class can go ahead. We support it 100 per cent.  We don’t have any problem with it but we don’t want anything compulsory for Saturday and Sunday for teachers to go and teach,” he said.

He also said the association would not have any qualms, if the Ministry of Education decided to use personnel from the Nation Builders Corps (NaBCo) to fill the weekend gap.

Speaking on the theme "Unpacking the Double Track System: Implications for Sustainable Financing and Prospects for Educational Quality in Ghana," Mr Dadzie questioned the kind of free senior high school (SHS) that the country wanted with the introduction of the double track system.

"In putting so much stress on the teacher, let's also think of quality. What kind of free SHS do we want?" he asked.

Consult teachers 

He said although teachers would play a pivotal role in the implementation of the double track system meant to decongest public senior high schools (SHS) and increase access, members of the association had not been engaged on the policy.

“Now we have six weeks to a new academic year and you have this octopus called double track landing. If we had thought about the free SHS well, we would know that the numbers would go up. We knew the numbers would rise and we were told there were remedies for it, but what we are seeing is an emergency.

Why did you keep the teacher in the dark? Why didn’t you engage in a broad consultation so parents understand what is going on, students are confused, teachers don’t understand,” he queried in a wave of questions directed at the Deputy Minister of Education, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, who was present.

Meanwhile, Dr Adutwum has said that four personnel, from the Nation Builders Corp (NABCo), would be attached to each school under the double track system.

Core subjects help

On academic intervention, Dr Adutwum said the government had set aside GH¢55, 824,750 to help students, particularly in the core subjects.

Comparing the contact hours of teachers in senior high schools and those in basic schools, he said those in the SHSs were spending only 50 per cent of their contact hours teaching, as compared with their colleagues in the basic schools.

Dr Adutwum said under the double track system, teachers would have more time to themselves as the teaching days would be reduced from 180 to 162 days a year.

He, therefore, advised NAGRAT to rather contact the ministry to discuss the issue of contact hours instead of going public because it would be in the interest of its members.

Completion of projects

Dr Adutwum said the ministry was working on a $500 million facility to complete all uncompleted SHS projects across the country, as part of measures to gradually address the space deficit.

Dr Adutwum insisted that the double track system was a temporary solution that would give the government a breathing space to deal with the infrastructure deficit facing the country.