Debates of 11 May 2005

PRAYERS 10:05 a.m.




Mr. Speaker 10:05 a.m.
Order! Order! Correction of Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday, 10th May, 2005. Pages 1, 2. . . [Interruption.]
Mr. G. K. Arthur 10:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I was here yesterday but my name has appeared in the list of absentees. My name is Arthur George Kofi -- Amenfi Central.
Alhaji Issifu Mohammed 10:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I was also present but I have been marked absent - Mohammed Issifu - Ejura-Sekyedumase.
Mr. Speaker 10:05 a.m.
The Official Report of Tuesday, 10th May, 2005, are there any errors, corrections? [Pause.] We have one Statement. The hon. Member for Kintampo North?
STATEMENTS 10:05 a.m.

Mr. Stephen Kunsu (NDC - Kintampo North) 10:15 a.m.
I am extremely grateful to you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity given me to make a Statement on the sinking image of the Ghanaian teacher in contemporary Ghana.
Teachers, as we all know, play an

indispensable role in society for they are the catalysts through which any educational reforms can be implemented. Apart from their pivotal role in the implementation of these reforms they are responsible for the manpower and human resource development needed for the scientific and technological development of the nation.

Teachers are the heart of every nation. We know the biological importance of the heart as an organ of the body. Just as the body collapses into lifelessness when the heart stops beating, the nation plunges into very serious catastrophe when teachers fail to do their work. It is against this backdrop that the plight of teachers should be an issue of great concern to all Ghanaians.

Mr. Speaker, teaching, like any other profession, has an image and in the advanced countries where teachers are held in high esteem, the image of teachers is the “professionals” professional for teachers are the producers of our presidents, ministers of state, legislators, Chief Justices, technocrats, doctors, engineers, industrialists, lawyers and so on.

In Ghana, however, it is pathetic to note that even though some of these important personalities had been teachers before and as such are aware of the risks and difficulties teachers go through, they tend to forget about the teachers' terrible conditions. There is an adage in Akan that says, Kwaee a agye wo no yenfre no kwaewa, meaning the forest that has been the source of your prosperity should not be downgraded.

Mr. Speaker, the image of Ghanaian teachers has sunk so low in recent times that it requires an “SOS” to salvage it from the doldrums and rehabilitate it to public esteem; no wonder some people regard teaching as a mediocre occupation hence those students who fail to gain

admission into other tertiary institutions enter the training colleges as the last resort. In the discharge of their duties, teachers are subjected to various forms of injustices and indignities of life. This situation stigmatizes the teachers and leads them into living a life of wretchedness. Some of the intractable problems teachers encounter include the following:

i. Lack of decent accommodation, a situation that compels some teachers to live in nearby towns and commute everyday. This leads to frequent absenteeism and lateness to school.

ii. Late payment of salaries: The protracted delay for payment of salaries and other entitlements to newly recruited pupil teachers and newly posted trained teachers exposes the teachers to serious temptations. Sometimes the teachers have to work for a period of between one and two years before payment of salaries is effected.

Mr. Speaker, I personally suffered the same fate after I had been reinstated in March, 2001 after completing a period of secondment. I worked for a period of sixteen (16) months before I started receiving my salary. Working under such a terrible ordeal, the affected teachers have no alternative than to resort to borrowing and parasiting in order to make ends meet. Teachers who find it extremely difficult to endure this predicament take to drinking and smoking and the difficulty by which they can extricate themselves from this unfortunate and humiliating situation once they get habituated to drinking and smoking is beyond description. Such
Mr. Asamoah Ofosu (NPP - Kade) 10:15 a.m.
I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for giving me the opportunity. I rise to disassociate myself from the Statement that has been made. [Interruptions.] Mr. Speaker, it is rather surprising - [Interruption] -- Yes, to disassociate myself from the Statement made. But Mr. Speaker, it is rather
Mr. Speaker 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Ofosu 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, with the
Mr. Speaker 10:15 a.m.
Hon. Chief Whip for the Minority, do you have a point of order to raise?
Mr. John A. Tia 10:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I want your guidance on what my hon. Colleague opposite is trying to do. A Statement, in the first place, is the property of the maker and it lies in his power to state what he is concerned about. Hon. Members are only permitted, under our Standing Orders, to comment; they may comment positively or negatively on the issue. [Interruptions.] - Please, listen.
But to get up and say that you are disassociating yourself from the Statement, Mr. Speaker, I do not think the maker of the Statement sought his permission and said that they should jointly make the Statement. They are not jointly making the Statement; he is not making the Statement on behalf of
the two of them, so he cannot say that he is disassociating himself from that Statement. So I want your guidance, he can comment favourably or unfavourably but he is not part of the Statement and therefore he cannot break away from it.
Mr. Speaker 10:15 a.m.
Hon. Members, the
relevant clause is Standing Order 72:
“By the indulgence of the House and leave of Mr. Speaker a Member may, at the time appointed for statements under Order 53 (Order of Business) explain a matter of personal nature or make a statement on a matter of urgent public importance. Any statement other than a personal statement may be commented upon by other Members for a limited duration of time not exceeding one hour. The terms of any such proposed statement shall first be submitted to Mr. Speaker.”
Mr. Speaker 10:15 a.m.
Is the hon. Member
making a comment on the Statement?
Mr. Ofosu 10:15 a.m.
That is so, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, I am making a comment on the Statement made but, Mr. Speaker, the Parliamentary parlance that has been used by hon. Members in their opening comments is, “I rise to associate myself . . . I rise to associate”. Mr. Speaker, it is just the parliamentary parlance or commentary on “association”. So Mr. Speaker, where you can associate, you can disassociate.
Mr. Speaker 10:15 a.m.
The hon. Member for Kade, comment you may but be brief.
Mr. Ofosu 10:15 a.m.
I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for your wise ruling. [Laughter.] Mr. Speaker, what I am trying to say is that the
Mr. Speaker 10:15 a.m.
Minority Chief Whip?
Mr. John Tia 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I think in
this House whatever we do is a precedent for the people who are coming after us. So we should set the records straight. What I am seeking from Mr. Speaker is to guide us on this type of thing. The Statement is not their joint Statement. They did not meet anywhere to say that they were going to make this Statement today. There is no notice that the Statement was made by the two of them and for that matter, for one or two reasons, the hon. Member who presented it went off their agreed Statement and so he is dissociating.
We do not deny the fact that he can comment on it but to make it look as if it was part of his duty, his statement is what we are talking about. So he should just make the comments without saying that he is dissociating himself. He did not write the Statement with him.
So Mr. Speaker, I would want you to just be clear on this so that we will all be guided, otherwise we will all begin saying “we are dissociating” as if we originated the Statement; and that is not the best thing.
Mr. Speaker 10:25 a.m.
Hon. Chief Whip, I
think the problem here is the definition of comments; and a person may comment positively or otherwise. Let him go on, but I hope you have taken the spirit of this objection into account.
Mr. Ofosu 10:25 a.m.
Yes, Mr. Speaker. Mr.
Speaker, I would rather withdraw the “dissociate” and in place use “disagree”. I think that is more acceptable to my hon. Colleague. By the way, the parliamentary
Mr. Ofosu 10:25 a.m.
parlance is “associate”.
Mr. Speaker, by way of comment, I
am disagreeing with the hon. Member who made the Statement, because all that he talked about in his Statement was the plight of teachers and not the sinking image of teachers.
Mr. Speaker, the points he listed were
salaries of teachers, accommodation, mobility, late payment of salaries; and he talked about smoking and drinking.
Mr. Speaker, when you talk about the
plight of teachers, in recent times, like I started saying, teachers were teaching in dilapidated structures, thatched-roof houses, but with the introduction of HIPC over the last four years, how many classrooms have been built?

Mr. Speaker, they are not only receiving

cars, as it used to be when they were given second-hand cars, this time they are receiving brand new cars.
Mr. Speaker 10:25 a.m.
Hon. Member, wind up.
Mr. Ofosu 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, talking about
drinking and smoking by teachers, those things are habits. You go to the village and certain people who also feel that they are not properly paid or they are in the village take to Christianity and worship God with
the Pentecostal churches in their free time.
Mr. Speaker, if you go to the secondary
schools and the training colleges, we have had cases where students have been dismissed for smoking ganja and so on -- marijuana. So it is a habit they have cultivated over the period and it is not something that they do because of their sinking image.
Mr. Speaker, talking about risk
Mr. Speaker 10:25 a.m.
Hon. Member, I said,
please wind up.
Mr. Ofosu 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I do not
know how much risk teachers are exposed to as compared to the Police, the Fire Service and so on for us to talk about risk allowance as motivation or something to improve upon their image.
Mr. Speaker, I think the whole
Statement is misconceived and I disagree with him.
Enyo (NDC rose
Mr. Speaker 10:25 a.m.
Hon. Member, do you
have a point of order to raise? Please, let
us hear you on that.
Mr. Ofosu 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, two points.
Mr. Speaker 10:25 a.m.
Hon. Member for
Kade, this is not a point of order. Please, continue.
Mr. Tetteh-Enyo 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the
Mr. Speaker 10:25 a.m.
Hon. Member for
Abura-Asebu-Kwamankese, do you have a point of order to raise?
Mr. A. K. Mensah 10:25 a.m.
Exactly so, Mr.

Mr. Speaker, does it mean that any hon. Member who disagrees with him is not a serious-minded person? He should withdraw that, please.
Mr. Speaker 10:25 a.m.
Hon. Member for
Abura-Asebu-Kwamankese, are you raising a point of order?
Mr. Speaker 10:25 a.m.
What is your point of
Mr. A. K. Mensah 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, he
has used unparliamentary language; that is how I see it.
Mr. Speaker 10:25 a.m.
I could not hear you.
Mr. A. K. Mensah 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I am
saying that by that statement he has used unparliamentary language -- that “any serious-minded person in this House”. All of us are serious-minded people; that is why we are all here.
Mr. Speaker 10:25 a.m.
Hon. Deputy Minority
Leader, I thought you were going to allow me to make a ruling. All right, let me hear you.
Mr. Adjaho 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, if the hon. Member who just spoke is saying that all of us are serious-minded people then there is nothing to complain about.
Mr. Speaker 10:25 a.m.
Hon. Member for Ada,
please continue.
Mr. Tetteh-Enyo 10:35 a.m.
Thank you, Mr.
Speaker, and I think my hon. Colleagues are hearing me well. The contribution I would want to make is that there are two areas of service which have become very worrisome to teachers -- housing and transportation. And as I have said, the disappointments they are getting in their areas of work are the causes of their degeneration into certain social habits which is making the image of the teacher questionable in the areas where they are working.
The first one is the housing problem. When you go out to certain areas of the
country, especially the rural areas, you ask yourself, “If I have a young girl or a young boy coming out of a teacher training college to teach in this town, where will he or she stay as a teacher?” This problem is not new; what the Statement is seeking to do is to draw attention to this fact, for all of us to try and find a way and, particularly, for Government to pursue proposals made, one of which we will find in the Budget Statement for this year, that attempts will be made to provide housing in certain areas of the country.
The statement made in the Budget
indicates that low-cost houses constructed by Government in 1973 and the sale of these units will commence this year. The amount mobilized from this activity will be utilized as seed capital for construction of more staff housing, particularly for newly created districts.
This is intended to inter alia ease the housing problems of teachers and health workers in the relatively deprived districts of the nation. This to me is too modest, and it would take a long time for us to realise the effects of a housing scheme that would improve the lot of teachers.

We -- and by we I mean those who are interested in getting the teachers' conditions of service in the rural areas improved -- would like to suggest that all housing projects going on should have the teachers as a target so that we can hasten the day when teachers could have a place to stay when they are appointed to the difficult areas or the rural areas of the country.

Mr. Speaker, this does not mean it is only the Ministry of Education and Sports that should undertake housing schemes;
Mr. Speaker 10:35 a.m.
I hope you are winding up?
Mr. Tettey-Enyo 10:35 a.m.
I am winding up with the last point. It is only the second point I am about to make. It is about transportation. Here again, our reliance on the incentive package is not good enough. We need to have a properly structured programme for providing transport by means of loans to teachers to be able to procure their own means of transport.
There is provision for this sometimes in the Budget but this has never been enough to provide a good number of teachers the opportunity of procuring their means of transport. I am particularly interested in the provision of bicycles and motor bikes for the teachers in the rural areas; and I would like Government to look at this issue more critically and make adequate provision for the teachers.
I want to end by saying that the “fire fighting” approach we are adopting towards the resolution of teachers' problems is not helping the country. We think a committee should be set up under the Human Resource Development (HRD) Division of the Ministry of Education and Sports to undertake a permanent review of teachers' conditions; the issue should not be left with Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) as the union of the teachers, or to the Teachers' and Educational Workers' Union (TEWU) as the union of university teachers and educational workers, but the HRD Division of the Ministry itself must be made proactive until the National Teaching Council is established, so that
matters relating to teachers' welfare would be seen to on daily basis rather than wait for problems to arise before we set up committees, the reports of which may not even be implemented.
Mr. Speaker 10:35 a.m.
At the Commencement of Public Business, item 4. Hon. Majority Leader, any indications at this stage?
Majority Leader/Minister for
Parliamentary Affairs (Mr. Felix K. Owusu-Adjapong): Mr. Speaker, as hon. Colleagues may be aware, we have a lot of important committee meetings today, one being Committee of Selection to look at the recomposition of committee members in the light of the fact that some chairmen and chairpersons of committees have been made Ministers or Deputy Ministers of State; and according to our rules they cannot continue to be chairmen or chairpersons.
Mr. Speaker, in addition there is the need also to have a meeting of the Committee of the Whole to look at certain important issues that we need to resolve at the beginning of this Meeting
of Parliament.
Again, we have the Public Accounts Committee that has also scheduled an important meeting. In the light of all these, I think it is appropriate that we do adjourn at the moment to enable the Committee of the Whole to complete its work in time so that the Committee of Selection can meet immediately thereafter. I therefore move that this House do now adjourn till at tomorrow 10 o'clock in the morning.
Mr. J. K. Tia 10:35 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I beg to second the motion.
Question put and motion agreed to.
ADJOURNMENT 10:35 a.m.

  • The House was accordingly adjourned at 10.43 a.m. till 12th May, 2005 at 10.00 a.m.