The Executive Director of Africa Education Watch, Kofi Asare says the excuse that allowances are given to teacher trainees to motivate them to take up postings in rural areas false flat in the face of data gathered by the Education Ministry and other stakeholders.
According to him, despite the teacher trainee allowances, fewer teachers take up postings in deprives areas thus further widening the education divide.
“If the rationale or justification for having the teacher allowance scheme is that it enables teachers to be bound by virtue of their enjoying that particular grant to accept postings in deprived areas then by now after decades of implementing this policy, we should have had if not optimum number of deprived areas, at least we shouldn’t have had an oversupply of teachers in urban areas,” he said on JoyNews’ PM Express.
According to him, data from the Education Ministry revealed that despite 2020 seeing a record number of graduate teachers leaving Colleges of Education, very few of them ended up taking postings to deprived areas.
“There were about 17,000 primary school teachers that were more than the number of primary school classrooms we have in this country. Note that the primary school level is one teacher to one classroom. We had 15,000 more teachers in primary schools nationally than the number of classrooms.
“Now if you go to the deprived 75 districts where these teachers most of them are supposed to go because these are where the remotest of communities are found, even though we had 15,000 more teachers at the primary school at the national level, in these deprived districts, there were at least 2000 empty primary school classrooms.
This is as at 2020 so we have 2000 empty primary classrooms in the 75 deprived districts and we have oversupply at the national level,” he said.
To paint a stark picture of the reality on the ground he juxtaposed the Zabzugu district against the Adenta Municipality.
“Adenta Municipality had only 18 primary schools as at last year, but had 360 teachers, and a deprived district like Zabzugu had 55 primary schools, three times the number of primary schools in Adenta but Zabzugu had 100 less teachers than Adenta. Thus Zabzugu had 260 teachers,” he said.
The disparity in teacher distribution across the country he says does not speak to the need for teacher trainees to be awarded allowances.
He has instead called for a new regime where instead of teacher trainee allowances, graduate teachers who take up postings in deprived and rural areas be awarded a monthly stipend he calls the rural allowance to encourage the teachers to not only take up postings to these areas, but to stay there for longer periods as well.
“the best way to have done this is to say that if we have 400 cedis a month to spend on a teacher because we expect that they will go to a deprived district, or deprived community, why not wait, when the teacher is posted to that deprived district then this 400 cedi (which is more than 20% of a serving teacher’s salary, a newly posted teacher’s salary).
“So if you simply say that because I want to motivate you to accept postings to Zabzugu as a newly trained teacher for the next three years, I am giving you this same amount 400 cedis which is about 25% of your salary as rural allowance, wouldn’t that one be more targeted and serve a better purpose because only teachers accepting postings to rural areas defined as deprived would have gotten this money?” he said.