President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said the government is formulating a policy to ensure that teachers own houses before they retire.
The policy, he said, tied into the general reforms in the educational sector, where the teacher was at the centre of the transformation agenda.
The President said this at the 70th anniversary celebration of Prempeh College in Kumasi, Ashanti Region, last Saturday.
The anniversary was on the theme: “Celebrating 70 years of exceptional excellence in education in Ghana”.
Among prominent Ghanaians who attended the event were former President John Agyekum Kufuor, the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II; a former Finance Minister, Dr Kwabena Duffuor; a former Minister of Food and Agriculture and Mr Kwamena Ahwoi.
According to the President, “the government is committed to ensuring quality and relevant education that will produce confident, skilled and global citizens who are digital-technology ready and able to compete with their counterparts anywhere in the world”.
He said the government was addressing the challenges associated with the implementation of the free senior high school (SHS) policy, including the provision of infrastructure.
He said about 9,072 structures, comprising classrooms, dormitories and other facilities, were being built across the country to help accommodate the rising number of students entering SHS in order to phase out the double-track system.
Also, a total of 1,119 vehicles, 350 of them buses, were being distributed to schools across the country, he added. On the colleges of education (CoEs), he said, 134 hostels were being constructed in the 46 CoEs in the country to increase access under a ‘teacher first policy’.
“Free SHS has come to stay; no child should be denied education because of poverty. And I know Ghanaians will not allow those dreamers who have still not woken up from their defeat to come and stall it under the guise of reforms,” President Akufo-Addo said.
He said from a growth rate of 2.3 per cent in 2016, enrolment in SHS had doubled to 4.5 per cent and was projected to grow further to 5.5 per cent. According to him, between 2013 and 2016, an average of 100,000 pupils who passed the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) could not go to school due to
poverty, adding that if the trend had continued for a decade, it meant one million pupils would have been denied access to SHS.
“This is unacceptable in any country in the 21st century and it is dangerous to the stability of any a country,” President Akufo-Addo added.
The Minister of Education, Dr Mathew Opoku Prempeh, said the government had not owed teachers any allowance or salary since 2017. He said the issue of teacher remuneration was being addressed to include a new condition of service, adding: “Since 2011, teachers have not had new conditions of service and this is being addressed.” The minister said textbooks for core subjects had been provided for schools, while blackboards were being replaced with white boards.
Former President Kufuor, an old student of Prempeh College, urged the government to close the student-teacher ratio, which he said was widening, saying the ratio used to be a teacher to about 10 students (1:10), but now it had increased to more than 1:100.
He said current fast-changing lifestyles, coupled with the less time parents now devoted to their children, threatened the development children.
The Headmaster of Prempeh College, Mr Aaron Attua Gyau, enumerated some of the achievements of the school, including being the first to win the National Science and Maths Quiz and also qualifying to participate in a World Robotics competition.
He commended the government for supporting the school with infrastructure projects.