Flika's Pen: NUGS Must Learn To Fish, Not "To Free"

I was on my way home after the day’s activities on Friday October 7, 2016. It was 18:00 GMT, a common time for the electronic media’s news and the various radio stations were busy reading their major news bulletins. I scrolled through the local frequency modulations in search of a news channel. In no time I chanced on one.

While I listened to the 104.3 frequency, a news headline attracted my attention..... 'NUGS angry with Mahama over training allowance'. Really, I asked, though I was all alone? How I wished there was someone around to respond to me. 'I have to pay attention to the details', I whispered to myself.

But what was their beef? That the president announced the ruling government's 'timely' u-turn to reinstate the scrapped public nursing trainee allowance without that of the teacher trainees. According to the news source, NUGS was calling on government to also consider reinstating the teacher trainee as well. They were not happy that  government had decided to single out the  reinstatement of the nursing trainee allowance only, warning government of the consequences of beating only a side of a two-sided drum.

But shouldn't the reinstatement of the once scrapped allowance rather be their worry?

Well, two wrongs will never equal a right. The truth, as bitter as chewing chloroquine on a sick malaria bed, is that, the payment of training allowance in our current era is a public evil.

At least in the past four years, the subject of trainee allowance has become a vocabulary in news bulletin's due to the controversies surrounding it. One can expect that when Ghanaian 'politricians' plugged their pinpoint nose into it.

Politicians as usual would strategically muddy the waters for a reason you know better than I do. To them, I give an average benefit of any doubt. But not educational institutions like NUGS, NAGRAT, GNAT et al. Judging from the way NUGS made their opinion known on this subject undoubtedly exposes their lack of  knowledge.

The ruling government may err if it decided to eat back it own words like a hungry mudfish would do to it's own flesh, but we must not. At the interest of the poor tax payer it has become inevitable for the truth to be buried in Ghana's political bag. My ears failed to entertain any dust on a serious national issue which concerns all and sundry.

Once upon a time, public university education was fee free and students were fed free of cost to parents. But today, does that student-pampering policy exist in any university in Ghana? What is preventing the NUGS leadership from asking government to reinstate the free lunch that used to be served in public universities so we can take them very serious? Why can't university education be free anymore? Why can't university student's be paid allowance as it used to be?

Undoubtedly the teaching profession has continued to boost and provide a wonderful foundation stone for our human resource development and productivity. It's true the teacher taught them all. A truth we should not toy with.

As it stands now, the training college stands tall in terms of competiveness over any other tertiary institution. So, the teacher trainees do not luck anything. The economic opportunities there are so friendly for even the poor and vulnerable homes, if that is anything to go by. They have thus gotten a fair share of the nations cake.

It is worth nothing that teacher trainees continue to be housed free of cost fed at the expense of the tax payer. Above all of these, they have a guaranteed employment right after school. We all know the headache unemployment courses the world over. It's no secret that university students disappointedly form employed graduate unions. But same cannot be said of any public college of education alumni.

We have baptised ourselves into believing government must at all cost provide employment upon successfully completing ones course of study. And we continue to live in such a world of deceits.

Let us be conscious so we do not frame a picture that all is not going well with the colleges of education when in a real world it's not. Reinstating the training allowance would increase hardship to the very poor and vulnerable citizenry. Remember during such times it's the very poor and vulnerable in society who surfers the more.

The laws that govern Kwame Nkrumah's Ghana are not rigid and so should be our policies too. At any point in time our ‘Kalyppo’ policies must reflect economic situation and sense of purpose. The Ghanaian student MUST be taught to fish, not 'to free'. We shouldn't buy into ideas of free things. Education is a shared responsibility and thus cannot be free. The good book advises a child to be trained the way he should go and when he grows he will not depart from it.

Finally, the withdrawal of budgetary support for Ghana by the UK over the weekend should serve as a guide in deciding whether or not we should reinstate the trainee allowance.


The writer David K. Flika is a social analyst and a postgraduate student at the UCC.

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