AUGUST 3, 2020 – The National Service Scheme (NSS) has noted with utter dismay and shock the opposition National Democratic Congress’ (NDC) consistent campaign of abolishing or scraping the national service for the newly trained tertiary level teachers (graduates) from the Colleges of Education on coming to power.
The Management of the Scheme deems the comments as unfortunate and feels compelled in the present circumstances, and for what we perceive should be in the public interest, to share hard facts in the hope, to bring clarity to the circumstances surrounding the introduction of the programme and advise politicians to stay away from denigrating a nationally accepted programme that serves as a transition between school and the world of work which instils in the youth the sense and spirit of nation-building and civic responsibility.
It is important to recall that Management of the Scheme with approval from the Government introduced the service programme for the newly-trained teachers in 2018 to afford newly-trained teachers an opportunity to offer a one-year national service in fulfilment of Act 426 of 1980 and is to be done during the period of the already existing induction/probation programme that ushered newly-trained teachers to full teacher status. This was purely a policy decision which seeks to include all qualified and eligible graduates as stipulated in the NSS ACT 426 of 1980. This is the legal framework that established the Scheme.
Beginning 2019, the first cohort of newly-trained teachers was deployed after extensive stakeholder engagement between the National Service Scheme, Ghana Education Service (GES), National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE), and the National Teaching Council (NTC).
BACKGROUND TO THE INCLUSION OF TEACHERS IN NATIONAL SERVICE
Previously, teacher training education offering certificate “A” qualification upon completion was not a tertiary education and therefore fell short of the requirement for enrolment onto the National Service Scheme. However, in the early 2000s, following a comprehensive review of the educational system in Ghana, which was instituted by ex-President John Agyekum Kufour under the Chairmanship of Professor Josephus Anamoah-Mensah, a former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Education, Winneba, the Government published a White Paper and declared that “all Teacher Training Colleges will be upgraded into diploma-awarding institutions and be affiliated to the education-oriented universities”. In this regard, 38 publicly-owned Teacher Training Institutes (TTIs) operating at a level equivalent to level 4 of the International System of Classification of Education (ISCED 4) were re-designated as Colleges of Education (COE) to offer tertiary education in 2008.
The Colleges of Education Act, Act 847 was passed to give legal backing to the new status of the institutions in 2012. The institutions have therefore been placed under the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE), being government agency responsible for the regulation of tertiary education institutions in Ghana.
In the background of the above-mentioned reason and with reference to the GNSS Act 426 of 1980 which stipulates that every Ghanaian citizen of 18 years and above who has successfully completed an accredited tertiary institution is mandated to undertake a compulsory one-year service to the state. This means that graduates from our colleges of education which have now been migrated to the tertiary status do not have the luxury option of avoiding national service as propounded by ex-President of the Republic of Ghana, John Dramani Mahama and his cohorts.
It is absolutely critical for members of the public and especially the National Democratic Congress to be reminded that graduates of a tertiary institution that are liable to national service cannot be employed contrary to the provisions of the NSS Act.
We wish to bring to the notice of the general public that aside the above reason of graduates being liable to national service, another compelling ground for the inclusion of the newly trained teachers in the national service programme is for those who have the intention of changing jobs in the near future. The GNSS ACT 426 of 1980 (clause 7: 1a-c, 2) states that any person who has not commenced and completed his/her period of National Service shall not:
(2) It shall be the duty of every employer to ascertain from every employee, upon his appointment, whether or not he is liable to national service and if he is, the employer shall notify the fact to the Board forthwith.
As an agency, we have had situations where trained teachers seeking to change careers have besieged our office asking to be given a national service certificate as a form of clearance that will enable them to switch careers since it is a requirement for obtaining a job as mentioned above. This arrangement comes in to curb such situations and opens doors to new career opportunities for them.
Also, for the education of the general public, as a well-recognized and accepted programme, foreign embassies acknowledge National Service Certificate as a basic requirement for obtaining a visa and therefore request graduates to provide NSS Certificate as a proof of national service.
Furthermore, we also wish to bring to the attention of the general public that to be able to access any form of postgraduate / post-diploma scholarship opportunity in Ghana or foreign countries, eligible Ghanaians must be able to provide a proof of national service to be considered. Without it, candidates stand a zero chance of qualifying for same.
Finally, National Service is a necessary requirement for holding any public office in Ghana including the office of the President and Member of Parliament.
With the aforementioned reasons, it is disingenuous on the part of any person or group to suggest the cancellation of teachers participating in the National Service programme when teachers have hailed it as helpful to their future endeavours and when most especially National Service Certificate is considered a primary requirement to securing employment in either the private or public sector.
The question now is if graduates from the universities and technical universities are doing it, trained nurses from nursing and midwifery colleges are doing it, pharmacists are doing it and Ghanaian nationals who schooled abroad are also roped in, why should it become a big deal for trained tertiary level teachers who are now as qualified as their compatriots listed above.
SERVICE TO THE NATION
It is now becoming too obvious! Is it a clear case of entrenched hatred for teachers especially when the National Democratic Congress has continuously demonstrated clear prejudice towards the teaching profession and during their tenure abolished teacher trainee allowance which was their main source of livelihood as teacher trainees?
John Dramani Mahama, in cancelling the teacher trainee allowance said that the Colleges of Education (COE) are tertiary institutions and so cannot continue taking teacher trainee allowances and therefore need to take student loans. How come he is now playing politics with reality and seeking to cancel a programme which presents enormous advantages to its beneficiaries if given another opportunity to rule Ghana.
It is worthy to note that the first cohort of newly trained teachers on the national service programme have completed and have been duly posted by the Ghana Education Service (GES). The second batch is currently at post unlike the period under NDC whereby trained teachers had to wait for a couple of years before they would be employed permanently by GES.
Management of the Scheme unequivocally states its support for Newly Trained Teachers participation in the national service programme and calls on the general public to disregard certain comments and insinuations from some quarters which seek to downplay the relevance of teachers performing their national service duty. Management admonishes members of the general public, especially persons who have risen to the dignified status of statesmen to exercise the cherished free speech we all have which is the solid foundation upon which Ghana’s democratic tenets are laid and sustained, with honesty and truthfulness necessary for the smooth and effective management and administration of the Scheme.
Corporate Affairs Directorate, NSS