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As strike paralyses public schools - Govt urges unions to restore services

BY: Graphic Reporters
Some schoolchildren in Koforidua on their way home
Some schoolchildren in Koforidua on their way home

The government has urged pre-tertiary teacher unions to restore their services while they engage to find amicable solutions to their demands.

A Deputy Minister of Education, Rev. John Ntim Fordjour, who made the call in an interview with the Daily Graphic, said the government was sensitive to the demands of the teacher unions and would engage them in the interest of the future of pupils.

He was speaking with the Daily Graphic’s Della Russel Ocloo yesterday on the sidelines of a three-day technology-enabled open school systems training programme for teachers drawn from tertiary, secondary and primary schools in the country.

Rev. Fordjour indicated that while the government was aware of the living conditions of teachers, it was important for the partners to dialogue and arrive at effective solutions to teachers’ concerns.

He pointed out that whereas the safety of students, particularly those in boarding facilities in senior high schools, would be a challenge within the period that the strike persisted, the ministry, through the Ghana Education Service (GES), had tasked heads of schools and their non-teaching staff to provide supervision to ensure the well-being of the students.

“We want to assure parents that their children are in safe hands, even as the government engages the teacher unions, and we remain hopeful that we will have an amicable solution,” he said.

“We are hopeful that the unions will heed our appeal to resume their services to ensure teaching and learning will not be disrupted in our schools and we hope we can both come to an agreement that will be acceptable to all parties,” the minister said.

Meeting

The Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations will hold a crucial meeting with striking teacher unions today.

The meeting will seek to address the demand of the over 350,000-strong pre-tertiary teachers for the payment of 20 per cent Cost of Living Allowance (CoLA).

Last Monday, the teacher unions announced an indefinite strike to press home their demand for the CoLA, as they claimed the government had not done anything about the request they had made since February this year.

The unions are the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), the Teacher and Educational Workers Union (TEWU) and the Coalition of Concerned Teachers, Ghana (CCT-GH).

Government optimistic

Also speaking with Daily Graphic’s Mary Anane-Amponsah yesterday, the Deputy Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Bright Wireko-Brobby, expressed optimism that after the meeting the strike would be called off.

“We are ready to meet the unions to resolve the issues and I believe after the meeting we will have them back in the classrooms. The strike will not go beyond Friday,” he said.

The invitation letter to the unions read: “In view of the fact that some unions were unable to honour the invitation possibly because of the shortness of notice, the Hon. Minister has rescheduled the meeting to Wednesday, July 6, 2022 in the Ministry’s Conference Room at 2 p.m.”

The letter, copied to the various unions, urged all concerned to make themselves available for the important discussions.

Mr Wireko-Brobby explained that an earlier meeting with the unions could not come on because they could not get all the unions to be present.

The General Secretary of GNAT, Thomas Musah, confirmed the invitation for the meeting to the Daily Graphic yesterday and expressed the hope that their expectations would be met.

Strike bites

Meanwhile, public schools in the country have been paralysed by the strike.

The Daily Graphic monitored the situation across the country and the story was one of teachers staying away from school.

Eastern Region

From Koforidua, George Folley reports that pupils in the Koforidua municipality were disappointed yesterday morning when they realised their teachers had embarked on a strike.

The pupils had no option but to return home.

Some of the schools visited were the Trinity Presbyterian School, the St Dominic Basic School and the Methodist and Presbyterian Basic schools.

Haruna Yussif Wunpini also writes that visits to some schools in the New Juaben North and the New Juaben South municipalities showed that the schools were closed, but JHS 3 students were studying on their own.

The schools visited were the Effiduase Methodist Primary and JHS, the Sarkodee Primary and JHS, the Apimpoa Islamic Basic School and the Presbyterian Basic AB&C.

No teacher was at post and many schoolchildren were seen playing various games.

The heads of the schools were present but doing nothing valuable.

Upper East Region

Gilbert Mawuli Agbey reports from Bolgatanga that teachers completely deserted the classrooms.

A visit by the Daily Graphic to some schools in the Upper East Regional capital revealed that the pupils left the classrooms on their own.

Schools visited included the Methodist Basic School, the Sacred Heart JHS, the St John’s JHS, the St Charles’ Primary School, the Awogeya Basic School and the Abilba Number Two Basic School.

Some of the pupils urged the government to urgently address the concerns of their teachers for them to return to the classrooms.

Northern Region

From Tamale, Mohammed Fugu reports that during a visit to some schools, it was observed that some were locked up, while others were opened but with no teachers at post.

Yakubu Safia, a final-year student of the Kanvili RC JHS, lamented that the strike would affect final-year students because they might not be able to complete their syllabus before the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) began.

When contacted, the Northern Regional Chairman of NAGRAT, Abdulai Seidu Gong, said teachers would go back to the classroom only when the government addressed their concerns.