280,000 laptops: We don’t trust GH¢1,550 cost, brand – Teachers petition CHRAJ

Fri, 19 Mar 2021 Source: classfmonline.com

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Teachers belonging to a group calling itself Innovative Teachers have petitioned the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to probe plans by the government to resource teachers in the country with some 280,000 TM1 laptops.

President Nana Akufo-Addo announced the plan to distribute the laptops in his State of the Nation Address.

“I’m happy to announce that the government is facilitating the acquisition of 280,000 laptops for members of Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) and the Coalition of Concerned Teachers (CCT) this year”, the President told parliament on Tuesday, 9 March 2021.

“I acknowledge that the teacher is at the centre of every reform in the field of education”, the President said.

The government is supposed to pay 70 percent of the price of the laptops (GH¢1,550) per unit while the teachers shoulder the remaining 30 percent burden.

The teachers, however, say not only is the price high but are not convinced of the brand and quality of the laptops.

About a week ago, the group said if the government wishes to give the Ghanaian teacher a laptop, it must be free and not come at a 30 percent cost to the beneficiary.

The teachers, in a statement signed by their Secretary, Christian Aidoo on Wednesday, 10 March 2021, noted that in accordance with the labour law, it is the responsibility of the employer, the Ghana Education Service (GES), to provide all the necessary tools for the work of the teacher.

The group stated: “It is instructive to note that the relationship that exists between teachers as employees and Ghana Education Service as the employer is regulated by law. The Labour Law section 9(a) specifically tasks the employer (GES) to provide the machinery, equipment and tools needed by the employees (teachers) to work. It is the responsibility of the Ghana Education Service to tool teachers to work.

“This cost-sharing idea of tooling teachers under the cloak of 'personal assets' is alien to the Labour Law (Act 651).”

The group further noted that: “No survey was done to determine the number of teachers who have laptops and teachers who might not be interested in acquiring laptops from the government through cost-sharing.

“Teachers who are interested in paying 30 per cent of the cost of the laptop ought to have signed a consent form that would have formed the premise to produce a number of laptops in order to prevent waste of public funds.”

It continued: “Procuring 280,000 laptops for all teachers when GES cannot force all teachers to pay 30 percent of the cost of the laptops is a grotesque waste of public funds and a betrayal of protecting the public purse mantra by the President. GNAT, NAGRAT and CCT acceptance of this deal is irrelevant because the individual teacher has the choice to make whether to pay the 30 percent cost of the laptop or not”.

“Deductions of employees' salaries by the employer is regulated by section 70 (1 a, b, c, d, f and 2a. b, c, d) of the Labour Act (Act 651). Any attempt to force all teachers to pay the 30 per cent will be fiercely resisted through the court.

"The TM1 laptops are of doubtful quality just like the RLG laptops. There are no parts on the market to replace them when any part needs to be replaced and as a result, it will not last long to deliver the purpose for which they were procured”.

"One cannot fathom but wonder why the state cannot procure laptops from known brands such as HP. Lenovo, Dell, Toshiba, Samsung, Sony, Acer that are generally of good quality and their parts can easily be replaced when they get spoilt.”

It also called on the government to “order the company contracted to produce of 280,000 TM1 laptops to stop production immediately” emphasising that: “In order to show respect to teachers and the labour law government must acquire laptops such as hp, Lenovo, Toshiba, Acer, and Dell for teachers. The laptops must be given to teachers free of charge. What is good for Article 71 officeholders is equally good for teachers under section 9(a) of the Labour Act.”

It further said: “What teachers need now is the payment of the legacy arrears from 2012 to 2016 and not the unsolicited distribution of laptops of doubtful quality.”

Source: classfmonline.com
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