President of the Polytechnic Teachers Association of Ghana (POTAG), James Dugrah, says teachers will not return to the classroom unless government pays their book and research allowance.
According to him, the book and research allowance is the ‘’basic tool’’ for the work of the teachers.
‘’I think you know want goes into teaching; if you don’t research can you go and teach. If you don’t research how can you just get up and go and be teaching…,’’ he told the host of the Citi Breakfast Show, Bernard Avle, on Tuesday.
He explained that government is deliberately ‘’dragging its feet’’ in paying POTAG. “People borrowed money to do that and you dragging your feet to pay; is it fair,’’ he inquired.
Mr. Dugrah also stated that it was unfortunate the POTAG strike was not receiving public sympathy.
He added that government cannot withold the salaries of the teachers because the strike is legal.
‘’… if the strike is illegal then government will not pay; I think you are a christian, go and read Matthew 18:12-14 and then Luke 15:3-7. You will appreciate what we [POTAG] are doing,’’ he opined.
POTAG has been on strike for over 16 weeks. The teachers are demanding that government pays their book and research allowance.
The group says government’s failure to pay them their allowances constituted a breach of their conditions of service.
Government has said it will scrap the book and research allowance and establish a national research fund.
Explaining government’s side of the story, Deputy Minister of Education in-charge of Tertiary, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa said: ‘’we [Ministry] were ready to offer an amended position…, so that we can really pay serious attention to research in the country.’’
He stated that the book and research allowance, according to findings, does not aid research, hence the proposal of the National Research Fund by a committee chaired by Professor Mireku Gyimah.
‘’We have hope to begin implementation this year; then the unions [POTAG and UTAG] raised an issue that the book and research allowance should stay and then the National Research Fund should also be introduced. But we disagreed because that will amount to duplication and we [Ghana] don’t have the resources to run two systems [all serving the same purpose]…,’’ he said.
The deputy minister also revealed that the issue is currently in the courts and government is awaiting the outcome.
The new National Research Fund will require teachers to apply for funding to undertake their research.
Polytechnic students will have to stay home a while longer as confusion over the book and research allowance continues.
By: Evans Effah/citifmonline.com/Ghana