Final year Junior High School (JHS) students preparing for their Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE), have called on government to make paramount the interest of students in their negotiations with teachers over cost of living allowance (COLA).
While the BECE candidates appreciate President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s appeal to striking teachers to return to the classroom, and negotiations continue with government in order to avert any negative impact on the final year students who will be writing their exams in about three months’ time, they believe the government must also do the needful.
A cross-section of BECE candidates at Osu, in an interaction with the B&FT, expressed that just like their parents, teachers have been complaining over high cost of living in recent times, and are very serious about not returning to the classroom unless government complies; hence, government must give them what they want so that they can return to the classroom.
“We are not done with our syllabus yet; likewise the past questions. But our teachers have been out of the classroom for one week now; and without the teachers, we are not able to make any meaningful outcome from our studies.
“We know the President is very interested in issues concerning students, and that is why he introduced the Free SHS policy; so we know he will not want us to fail our exams. So, we are pleading with him to quickly grant the teachers their request so that it will not affect us,” a girls’ prefect in one of the schools said.
Another student said: “We have not learnt anything for the past one week. Meanwhile we pay transportation to school only to come and play or engage in group discussions which is not helping too much because some of the guys only make noise and disturb others in the absence of our teachers. So, we are pleading with Ghana Education Service, Ministry of Education, and Ministry of Finance to give the teachers what will make them feel happy to teach us wholeheartedly”.
This appeal comes at the back of ongoing labour agitations that have greeted the pre-tertiary education sector.
It would be recalled that some four teacher unions have been on strike for the past one week owing to their deteriorating conditions with stagnant salaries. The teachers are demanding payment of a cost of living allowance to shore up their expenses, stating worsening economic conditions.
Their call was also met with a plea from the President to reconsider their decision for the sake of the students and return to the classroom While the negotiations continue, bearing in mind the current economic challenges government is facing due to COVID-19 pandemic and Russia-Ukraine conflict.
These calls by the students are not any different from that of the National Council of Parent-Teacher Associations (NCPTAs).
The association wants government to negotiate with the four teacher unions who are on strike to demand the payment of a cost of living allowance with alacrity, and ensure the industry action does not end up at the disadvantage of student.
The NCPTAs, in a statement, said the current strike has led to some challenges, including a reduction in the contact hours for students’ learning and a food crisis.
It thus urged government to treat the resolution of the unions’ demand and subsequent strike as an emergency situation.
“The NCPTAs believe government has the capacity and capability to resolve it, and must show leadership now,” the statement said.