By Gifty Arthur
The Vice president of think tank organization, IMANI-Ghana, Kofi Bentil, has scorned the running mate of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, over his recent electoral promise that, an Akufo-Addo government, will restore the scrapped allowances for trainee nurses and teachers, when it wins the 2016 general elections.
Mr. Bentil, who lectures at one of Ghana’s respected tertiary institutions; Ashesi University, said it “makes no sense whatsoever” for any government to pay teacher trainees and nurses when they can take loan from the Students Loan Trust (SLT), just as others in other institutions are doing.
In his view, the idea to scrap the allowance, which was met with fierce resistance, demonstrations and attacks on Deputy Minister of Education, Samuel Okudzato Ablakwa, and Deputy Communications Minister, Felix Kwakye Ofosu, at a Teacher Training College in the Ashanti Region, has outlived its relevance.
He wrote on his Facebook wall, “Nurses and Teachers allowances were instituted when we lacked sufficient Nurses and Teachers and the Government wanted to encourage more people to go into those professions TO SERVE THE NATION AFTER THEIR LEARNING!!
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) government in scrapping the allowance, had argued it had outlived its usefulness as enrollment has increased and the populations of teachers, nurses and midwives, have increased significantly.
Besides, these institutions, have been upgraded into tertiary status, therefore, at parity with the universities and the polytechnics ,with the students expected to receive loans, instead of free cash from government. However, the students are being fed three square meals a day by the government.
Mr. Bentil’s comment is in direct response to Dr. Bawumia’s pronouncement at the just ended 15th Extraordinary National Delegates Conference of his party, held at the Brong Ahafo Regional capital, Sunyani.
Speaking ahead of Nana Akufo-Addo, Dr. Bawumia said, “Fellow Ghanaians; it is time for change and it is time for us to build a new economy. A new day is coming; Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and the NPP are coming to deliver a government of solutions to problems and not a government of excuses. We are going to build the most people and business friendly economy in Africa. For the NPP, amongst others, we have an incorruptible leader in Nana Akufo-Addo who will govern with integrity.”
He promised, “we will restore fiscal discipline; we will build an economy that will create jobs for our youth;’ we will meet our statutory obligation and we will restore teacher and nursing training allowances. We will focus on skills training for our youth, and we will focus on agriculture and restore the mass cocoa spraying exercise and make sure famers have access to fertilizer and we will transform the economy to add value to our raw materials for export”, he said.
However, even before Dr. Bawumia’s lofty promises could sink into the minds of many Ghanaians, especially his target group; the trainees, Mr. Bentil, has shot down the idea, saying a poor nation like Ghana, should not entertain such an old policy, when other students are not allowed to benefit from the same package.
“I don’t think a poor nation should be paying Teachers and Nurses when we don’t do that for other students who have to get student loans! Especially when the teachers we train don’t teach, and the Nurses also leave!! They must all go and take student loans like the rest of their colleagues. After that, we should pay teachers and Nurses who work in Ghana better than Bankers!
Mr. Bentil further suggested better pay for “those who work in rural areas,” adding “that way we will retain them, and indeed attract back those who have gone abroad or left the classroom!!!”
He warned, the electorates to be careful as the era of promises is inching closer. “We are in the era of PROMISES”, he said.
Continuing his argument, the lecturer said, unlike in the past when teachers were trained for only the classroom, today thousands of them trained with the taxpayers money, venture into other jobs rather than what they are trained for.
“TODAY TEACHERS ARE THE MOST POPULOUS PROFESSIONALS IN GHANA, and many thousands of them are NOT TEACHING! Ironically in MOST private schools (which educate the majority of our kids who excel) the teachers there are usually NOT TRAINED!! So we presently do not NEED TO PAY for the training of more teachers because they don’t teach!! And we are not relying on them for the students who go to Gey Hey and Mfantsipim and Achimota!!” he emphasized.
On why nurses should not be given allowances, Mr. Bentsil , who is a known critic of the John Mahama-led government said, a good number of these nurses after graduation travel abroad to seek greener pastures, making the nation lose.
“Same reason was why we paid Nurses to learn Nursing, but when they finish, MANY of them go abroad to sell their services, so we lose twice, we pay them, and they don’t serve us!, they go off and sell their services for their private benefit. I have nothing against Nurses and Teachers, many are my close friends and I sit on the Boards of 2 Hospitals!! I know how useful nurses are! I am also a Teacher!! and I want to teach till I die!”, he said.
“This is how Politicians dig holes for themselves and later fall in it! Nurses and Teachers allowance etc are long past relevant!!, he said.