Government has over the last three and half years cleared 91% of debt popularly known as ‘legacy arrears’ that it inherited in the education sector from the previous government in 2017, Education Minister Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh has said.
According to the minister, part of this debt resulted from the previous government’s ‘three-month pay policy’ for newly appointed teachers that accrued several months of their salaries – which was subsequently transferred on to the new government as debt.
“We met huge outstanding bills for key supplies to education service delivery, under the leadership of Prof. Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang as Minister of Education. There was outstanding bills of approximately GH¢9million for Capitation Grant; GH¢4milion Feeding Grant for Special Schools; GH¢14million for exercise books to basic schools, and GH¢4million for supply of school uniforms among many others.
“There was a time in this country when under the three-month pay policy our hard-working teachers were paid only three months’ salary, no matter how long they had worked since being engaged. Today, all newly engaged teachers have all their arrears paid a few months after commencing employment. Again, so far, this government has cleared over 91% of the legacy arrears we inherited,” Dr. Prempeh said.
The minister, who is also MP for Manhyia, made this revelation when he appeared before Parliament to make a presentation of government’s achievements in the education sector and established reforms since it assumed office.
He further added that under the ‘Progressively Free SHS policy’ that was started by the NDC in 2015, the then-government also left arrears of over GH¢30millon.
“It is also instructive to note that under the Progressively Free SHS policy touted by the NDC when it was in government, they left arrears of GH¢30,120,552 in respect of the 2015/16 academic year when the programme started with day students only. That has since been paid by the Akufo-Addo-led government.”
In his statement, Dr. Prempeh touched on other initiatives and reforms rolled out by the NPP government in the education sector – including teacher training, staff promotion, the teacher licensure regime, the initiation of a legal and regulatory framework, improvements in the Technical, Vocational Education & Training (TVET) subsector and several others.
He also assured of government’s commitment to resolve any outstanding challenges regarding teachers’ conditions of service, as his team is currently engaging with the National Teaching Council and Fair Wages Commission.
“We will continue to engage with the teacher unions, student unions and other stakeholders on how to improve the teaching profession’s image, improve teacher education and training, as well as improve learning outcomes.
“Our vision of a 21st century teacher is a competent, skilled and professionally-trained person equipped with the right set of skills and competencies to play a key role in delivering improved learning outcomes for learners to meet our development needs,” Dr. Prempeh noted.
Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu, in his contribution to the statement made by the minister, commended government for paying part of the legacy address – urging, however, that the issue be dealt with holistically; as according to him, there is still some remaining arrears subject to negotiations with teacher unions.