An Open Letter to President Akuffo Addo from Teacher Trainees

By | January 16, 2017

Dear Your excellency,

I know this  letter may not reach even your front desk but if it miraculously does, and you get to read it, please kindly consider it as a voice of all teacher trainees and to some extend newly trained teachers who have completed their course of study in the Colleges of Education for almost five months now and are in the classroom teaching on empty stomach. Let me cease this opportunity to congratulate you and Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia on your inauguration as the 5th President of the 4th Republic of Ghana.

Your Excellency, kindly permit me to  take you to the Holy Bible. Matthew 7:9-11 says ; which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” This is not a sermon but with my reference to this verse, I want to believe that after reading this letter, you will not give your children stone and snake but the bread and  fish which I ask for on their behalf.

I left Presec- Tema in the year 2012 and with my grades; Government A1, Social Studies A1, English Language B3, Literature in English B3, Mathematics C4 and Christian Religious Studies C4, I know I could gain admission into any of the public universities to read either B.A in communication studies or English and political science but I chose to enrol in the College of Education to be trained as a teacher because I have always had the passion for teaching since my primary school days and the fees for colleges of education were moderate . For one or two reasons I could not apply in 2013. I finally applied in 2014 and gained admission,  unfortunately the government you just succeeded led by H.E John Dramani Mahama had scrapped teacher trainee allowances and the fees had also been increased over a hundred percent as compared to what was paid when the allowances were in place. As a matter of fact, we payed three times what our counterparts in the University of Ghana were paying.

When the Government scrapped the allowances, it promised to remove the quota system, build more infrastructure in the colleges to increase intake of students with the amount used for the allowances.

When I got admission in 2014, I was informed together with my colleagues that we were going to do a five semester programme, which means that we will stay on campus for five semesters to learn the content and methods of teaching and be posted to a basic school to practice what has been learnt in the college in the 6th semester.

Strangely the government did not add a single infrastructure to what was already in existence but the enrollment was increased by almost a hundred percent, at my end science laboratories and technical workshops were converted into classrooms because there were no classrooms. A month to the resumption of the 2016/2017 academic year which happened to be our 5th semester, we received messages from our principals to report to campus on 12 September, 2016 to be taken through a three week on campus teaching practice and be posted for off campus teaching practice immediately. The message from our principals sent shivers down our spines because we did not have money to rent, pay utility bills, pay for transportation among others. We were obviously unprepared for the off campus teaching practice, we were psychologically, physically and emotionally prepared for it in the 6th semester. The national leadership of the teacher trainees association of Ghana TTAG tried its best to compel government to allow the 5th semester programme to end but the government  turned deaf ears to us. The government was apparently thinking of the next election to be bothered by our unpreparedness. We had no option than to go for loans to pay for rent, utility and to pay the huge school fees we were charged by our various colleges though we are not on campus.

I know you still cannot fathom this letter and the spirit behind it but you will soon come to terms by the time you finish reading the last sentence.

Your excellency, during the electioneering campaign you promised to restore the allowances which were scrapped by your predecessor who vowed to lose the election if all it will take him to win the election was to restore the allowances to teacher trainees in particular. We were glad when your vice Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia recently whiles thanking the chiefs of Nalerigu reiterated the committee of your government to include payment of the allowances in your first budget which will be presented to Parliament in March this year. I kindly wish to draw your attention to level 300 teacher trainees who have been posted to various schools across the country and have rented rooms and are paying utility bills, transportation etc. without any support from government, though our counterparts who are doing national service whom we sometimes teach how write lesson plans and how to teach are enjoying national service allowances.

Your Excellency, let me kindly draw your attention also to the plight of newly trained teachers who were the  batch to go through the system without allowances, they have since been posted after completing their course of study in 2015 without salaries for the past five months. There are also teacher on the field who have taught for three years and were only paid three months salary, they have been chasing the government for the payment of the arrears for the past five years.

In conclusion, Whiles in college we spend vacations in basic schools doing observation and in level 300, we are posted to villages to do teaching practice for a year, we use the allowances to pay for accommodation (rent), utility, transportation, feeding, preparation of teaching and learning materials etc., though we are not physically on campus  in the third year, you are billed to pay school fees ranging from 1400 to 1700 cedis. We use the allowance to pay fees too.

Please kindly abolish the following in the colleges of Education during your tenure of office; corporal punishment , the boarding system, feeding in the dining hall, the old fashioned hairstyle of the ladies, wearing uniform to school etc.

I personally believe there is the need to take a second look at teacher education in the colleges of education and to do that, all stakeholders including the teacher trainees must be involved in the discussions. Kindly consult the leadership of teacher trainees association of Ghana TTAG in all your dealings especially those in connection with teacher education and have direct effect on teacher trainees.

I wish you God’s guidance and success during your first four years stay in office as the president of the Republic of Ghana.

May God bless you.

Yours faithfully,
Saviour Gokah,
National General Secretary Candidate-TTAG,
[email protected]