The Textiles Workers Union has kicked against the alleged importation of new school uniform for Junior High Schools.
The group has said the move by the government will have a negative effect on the local textiles industry and bring about job loses.
The General Secretary of the Textiles Workers Union, Abraham Koomson, who disclosed this on Dwaboase on power 97.9 FM noted that the textiles industry will do better if the government gives the contract to the local companies to manufacture the fabrics for the new government-approved uniform for the pupils.
This comes after the Ghana Education Service (GES) announced last April the introduction of a new school uniform for JHS students. Students are expected to start wearing the new school uniform from next academic year, 2019 – 2020.
But Mr Koomson on Power 97.9 FM Thursday morning said it had come to their notice that a contract had been awarded to import the fabrics into the country as the 2019/2020 academic year approaches.
He told co-host Kwame Minkah that the government’s action, if true, would negatively affect the local industries especially at a time such industries are struggling due to the influx of China made fabrics onto the Ghanaian market.
“The local industries are struggling so much that if we are given contracts to manufacture such fabrics, it will help revive the industry,” Mr. Koomson stated as he bemoaned the government’s failure to clamp down on piracy in the country.
To him, the importation of fabrics as new uniform for JHS students defeats government’s claim of reviving local industries and sustainable jobs for the youth, stressing that “unemployment will soar when such a contract are given to foreign firms.”
“We keep fighting the piracy of African prints which is all over yet the government wants to give the manufacturing of JHS students’ uniform to some foreign companies. It doesn’t make sense because the local textile industries are on the verge of collapsing,” he added.
Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, Minister for Education.
He wondered why the Akufo-Addo government will encourage the importation of school uniform when “80% of fabrics on the Ghanaian market are China-made.”
He therefore urged the government to give the contract to the local companies to produce the uniform for the JHS students and help fight piracy to save the local manufacturing companies.
“The government should do the right thing, fight piracy and revive the textile industry because our work is collapsing,” Mr. Koomson said as he appealed to the Trades and Industry Ministry to listen to the grievances of the Textiles Workers Union.
He also called for the scrapped taskfoce to be reinstated to fight piracy else the Textiles Workers Union will hit the streets to protest the heightening piracy of African prints that has been a major factor to the collapse of the local manufacturing industries.
In the wake of the controversy, the Ghana Education Service (GES) has denied engaging a foreign firm to import the uniform into the country.
According to GES, such move has not been sanctioned, thereby asking the general public to disregard such news making rounds.
In a statement, GES said,”The attention of Management of the Ghana Education Service has been drawn to discussions in the media on alleged importation of school uniforms into the country by the Ghana Education Service. Management of GES wishes to make it clear that the story is baseless and has no merit whatsoever.”
The new JHS uniform.
“The GES wishes to state that it has not imported, neither has it contracted any individual, locally or internationally to bring in the new uniform for Junior High Schools”, the statement signed by GES’ Head of Public Relations Unit, Cassandra Twum Ampofo, added.
On whether the uniform is compulsory as schools reopen in few weeks to come, the GES said, “The Director-General urge parents to access these clothes from the open market as it has been the case with the current uniform. It must be noted that the school uniform is not compulsory. It will be phased out over a period and no student will be prevented from attending school when the 2019/2020academic year begins in September.”