General News Wed, 23 Nov 2016
An NDC Communicator has said that government's decision to cancel allowances to trainee nurses was a great policy even if the approach was wrong.Speaking in a paid interview on Joy News (Radio and TV), Jacob Adongo said government has decided to restore the nursing allowances on a temporary basis pending finalisation of a legislation to allow nursing students access student loans. This is a more lawful and acceptable way to remove the allowances permanently, he argued.
The NDC government did a u-turn on its position on the payment of nursing trainee allowance after it began disbursing what it called stipends last week.
The removal of the allowance had irked nursing trainees who said they relied on it to support their education.
Government has for several months been defending the removal saying it was for a greater good of increasing access to nursing training.
Jacob Adongo explained that the payment of the allowances affected government's ability to admit more students.
A quota system of admission into public nursing training colleges had been put in place for years to ensure that government did not admit more students than it could pay the monthly allowance.
Mr. Adongo said the quota policy became breeding grounds for corruption because prospective nursing trainees had to pay their way to get admission.
But in one swoop, this pervasive deviance has been eliminated by the abolishing of the quota system along with the allowance, he stressed.
Adongo said since the allowances were abolished in 2013, enrolment in nursing training schools has shot up by 30%.
He said it is "unfortunate and laughable" for the opposition NPP to claim that abolishing the allowances has affected access to education for the select professionals.
He said after solving the problem of access, government is now working to solve the problem of funding for nursing trainees. Government plans to put the students on a Student Loan Trust as a source of funding for tertiary education.
But to do this, government would have to amend the law governing the Student Loan Trust to include nursing trainees. When government is through with the legal process, the stipend it is now paying will be stopped, Adongo indicated.
The allowance became a charged political issue with the opposition NPP promising to restore it if it wins the December 7 general elections.
Siding with the nurses, NPP MP Matthew Opoku Prempeh said prospective nurses are having to pay as high as GHC4,000 as tuition fees, a situation which makes nursing training more expensive than university education.
Moving on from the issue of allowances, the NDC Communicator praised government's efforts in the education sector and pointed to statistics which indicate remarkable progress.
Under the NDC government, 11,823 new schools have been built, representing a 23% increase in educational infrastructure in Ghana, he asserted. He said within four years, President John Mahama has built more than 4,000 kindergartens, a vast improvement from the 16,439 it came to meet.
This he said has never happened since the colonial times of Gold Coast governor Sir Gordon Guggisberg.
He said before the Mahama government, there were 670 Senior High Schools many of which were built in the colonial era and the early days of independence.
But under Mahama, "we have put up 170 within 8 years" Jacob Adongo said and challenged the NPP to point to 10 Senior High Schools it built during its 2001 to 2008 administration.