In what appears to be an attempt by government to scuttle the NPP’s promise to restore allowance for teacher trainees, the Vice Presidential Candidate of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, was on Monday denied access into the Dambai College of Education in the Volta Region, where he was billed to address the students.
By the guidelines of the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service (GES), political activities are mostly not permitted in basic and second cycle institutions, but are allowed at the tertiary level, where students are believed to be matured enough to make informed choices.
According to the NPP’s National Youth Organiser, Sammy Awuku, the Principal of the College communicated the decision verbally to the party’s Volta Regional Chairman.
Despite the restriction however, Mr. Awuku said students of the College made their own arrangements and voluntarily came out with their chairs to listen to Dr. Bawumia on an open park, where he told them of the NPP’s policies going into the November polls.
He assured them that the teacher trainee allowance would be restored when the party wins power.
According to Sammy Awuku, the number that came out to listen to Dr. Bawumia was close to a thousand people, saying the purpose of the visit was achieved despite the political machination.
He questioned why the incumbent NDC administration will adopt such an approach particularly when President Mahama, then vice presidential candidate of the NDC in 2008, was given access to these schools to campaign.
“We are in the Volta Region for a whole week to visit the Colleges of Education and also for us to restore hope and assure them that an NPP administration will restore the teacher nurses trainees ‘allowance. Strangely in 2008, President Mahama who was then vice presidential nominee of his party, was given full access to the various campuses. In fact, he came to the Dambai College of Education in 2008, so we are surprised that suddenly, orders from above have stopped us from entering the College. The Principal told us verbally that we can’t come into the campus but we can do that at a nearby park so the students themselves built a canopy outside and we did that there. We had over 1,000 chairs and the whole place was full with others standing.”
Mr. Awuku says Dr. Bawumia will also be addressing the Jasikan College of Education on Tuesday, where he has also been barred from addressing the students on the campus.
He said, “So we are making alternative arrangement to speak to them at a nearby location. And the good thing about it is that, the students themselves are aware of what is happening and they are ready to come to the nearby location to listen to us.”
Arguments for and against trainee allowance
The NPP has argued that government only scrapped the allowance because it has mismanaged the country’s finances, and that it cannot be true that the decision is to boost enrolment into the colleges.
The party says the withdrawal has rather affected many who were financially handicapped and thus enrolled in the colleges to support their education.
The party says but for mismanagement of the country’s resources, government had no business scrapping the allowance also with the excuse that colleges of education are now upgraded and so the trainees must apply for student loans just as their colleagues in the Universities and polytechnics.
The teacher trainees themselves have embarked on several protests since the scrapping of the allowances, but they appear to have toned down since government has remained adamant to reverse the policy.
NPP to scrap taxes on private universities
Dr. Bawumia held a similar interaction with students of the Methodist University on Friday, where he promised that an NPP administration will scrap taxes levied on private universities in order to give more people opportunity to tertiary education since fees would be reduced.