A teachers group going by the name INNOVATIVE TEACHERS, has kicked against government’s plan to procure and distribute 280,000 laptops to teachers across the country with teachers bearing 30 percent of the cost.
The group wants government to order the company contracted to produce the laptops to stop production immediately, saying if government is desirous of providing teachers with laptops, it must be given free of charge and be of notable quality.
In a statement issued by the group dated March 10, 2021 and signed by its Secretary, Christian Aidoo, INNOVATIVE TEACHERS said per the labour laws, it is the responsibility of their employers, the Ghana Education Service (GES), to provide tools for its workers.
According to INNOVATIVE TEACHERS, the cost per laptop of the TM1 brand to be provided by the government is being quoted at GH¢1,550, for which teachers must pay 30 percent and government 70 percent respectively.
“It is instructive to note that the relationship that exist between teachers as employees and Ghana Education Service as the employer is regulated by law. The Labour Law section 9(a) specifically tasks the employer (GES) to provide the machinery, equipment and tools needed by the employees (teachers) to work. It is the responsibility of Ghana Education Service to tool teachers to work.
“This cost sharing idea of tooling teachers under the cloak of 'personal assets' is alien to the Labour Law (Act 651)”, says the teachers group, citing a 29th January, 2021 letter by the GES indicating the intention to give laptops to teachers as their personal assets through the support of government.
The group also raised a number issues on the deal, including the quality of the unpopular brand of laptop, and the legality of forcing all teachers to bear pay part of the cost whether they like it or not.
The group says;
- No survey was done to determine the number of teachers who have laptops and teachers who might not be interested in acquiring laptops from government through cost sharing.
- Teachers who are interested in paying 30 percent of the cost of the laptop ought to have signed a consent form that would have formed the premise to produce a number of laptops in order to prevent waste of public funds.
- Procuring 280,000 laptops for all teachers when GES cannot force all teachers to pay 30 percent of the cost of the laptops is a grotesque waste of public funds and a betrayal of protecting the public purse mantra by the President.
- GNAT, NAGRAT and CCT acceptance of this deal is irrelevant because the individual teacher has the choice to make whether to pay the 30 percent cost of the laptop or not.
- Deductions of employees' salaries by the employer is regulated by section 70 (1 a, b, c, d, f and 2a. b, c, d) of the Labour Act (Act 651). Any attempt to force all teachers to pay the 30 percent will be fiercely resisted through the court.
- The TM1 laptops are of doubtful quality just like the RLG laptops. There are no parts on the market to replace them when any part needs to be replaced and as a result it will not last long to deliver the purpose for which they were procured.
- One cannot fathom but wonder why the state cannot procure laptops from known brands such as hp. Lenovo, Dell, Toshiba, Samsung, Sony, Acer that are generally of good quality and their parts can easily be replaced when they get spoilt.
- The RLG laptops distributed to some teachers and some schools in Ghana that broke down in less than two years and could not be repaired is fueling a sense of uneasiness among teachers in buying these laptops from government since TM1 is an unknown brand.
- It is highly patronising and grossly disrespectful for government to give laptops of low quality to teachers as if teachers are so poor that we cannot afford quality laptops as our personal assets.
- Many teachers have sophisticated laptops and smart phones with better specifications than the laptops GES wants to distribute to teachers.
- INNOVATIVE TEACHERS is calling on government to order the company contracted to produce of 280,000 TM1 laptops to stop production immediately.
- In order to show respect to teachers and the labour law government must acquire laptops such as hp, Lenovo, Toshiba, Acer, and Dell for teachers. The laptops must be given to teachers free of charge. What is good for Article 71 office holders is equally good for teachers under section 9(a) of the Labour Act.
- What teachers need now is the payment of the legacy arrears from 2012 to 2016 and not unsolicited distribution of laptops of doubtful quality.