President Mahama has described as hypocritical the stance taken by the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) on the issue of teacher and nurses’ trainee allowance.
The president said he has incontrovertible evidence that prior to the exit of the NPP in 2008 they had plans of rolling out the same policy to scrap allowances of teacher and nurses due to similar reasons given by his administration.
He revealed this in an interview with the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation’s Sunrise FM in Koforidua as part of his tour of the Eastern Region.
Quoting from a 9th June 2008 document entitled “Guidelines for the preparation of the 2009/11 plans and budget” from the health ministry, the president Mahama said” the payment of wages for 2009 was going to be difficult and that trainee allowances to new entrants to the diploma programs in the various training institutions (that is the nurses training institutions) will be abolished, allowances to continuing students in the diploma program will also be phased out. All students will be encouraged to seek funding under the students' loans scheme. This is the NPP government for you. Today this is the same party turns around to say that we are wicked to have removed trainee allowance.
He also quoted some sections of a letter from the finance ministry signed by the minister Mr. Kojo Baah Wiredu, in the same year to authenticate his claim. The president said “it is important for Ghanaians to know the NPP cannot be trusted when it comes to making promises and fulfilling it. He also lambasted the party for their determination to deceive Ghanaians just because they want to win power at all cost.”
"The duplicity of the NPP is so appalling. History is a very important subject. You must always remember your past so that it guides you into the future and it looks like the NPP has forgotten its past completely. And because of opportunism of wanting to win political you just come make criticism highfalutin promises that you yourself in the past you were kicking against”
The President John Mahama urged Ghanaians to dismiss the rumours it has backtracked on its decision to scrap teacher trainee allowances.
He said the decision to scrap allowances for teachers and nurses was one that was borne out of a principle the government does not intend to betray. “In life one must live by principles or else it’s not worth living.”
Government scrapped teacher trainee allowance in 2014 in a move that was met with stiff opposition from trainee teachers who went as far as demonstrations to compel government to reintroduce the allowances.
Government explained that the policy of trainee allowances was to be replaced by a student loan scheme which was available for all degree awarding institutions.
The decision according to government was also to allow an increase in the number of trainees admitted into various training colleges in the country.
Teacher trainees subsequently vowed to vote against the NDC government if it failed to restore the payment of their allowances before the 2016 general elections.
On the other hand, the Flag bearer of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Akufo-Addo, on his recent campaign tour of the Northern Region promised that he will restore the allowance should he win power.
Since the withdrawal, the government has been praising itself for taking a prudent decision which resulted in an exponential growth in enrollment figures at nursing and teacher training schools across the country, thereby expanding access nursing and teacher training.
The opposition New Patriotic Party has, however, insisted that the decision is senseless and imposed needless hardships on students and parents.
Touching on the issue of unemployment the President said that employment figures indicate that the National Democratic Congress (NDC) has employed an unprecedented number of teachers and nurses in the country.
According to him, “from 2009 till date, this government has employed 78, 000 teachers – unprecedented – the highest number in the history of the country. From 2013, when I became president, we have employed 23,000 nurses – unprecedented – the highest number ever in the history of this country”.
For him, the facts do not support criticisms that his government has failed to provide jobs for teachers and nurses.
The removal of training allowances for teachers and nurses has also been a source of huge controversy. The opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) has constantly argued that the Mahama administration does not have the interest of nurses and teachers at heart.
However, Mr Mahama insisted that government is doing its best to provide the best for teachers and nurses.
The Citizen’s Mail has however laid hands on copies of the said documents the president read copiously from.