Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, 2016 Vice-Presidential Candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), says the party sees the need to restore allowances to trainee teachers and nurses as non-negotiable, explaining that teacher education, in particular, is critical to developing the quality human resource Ghana needs to succeed in the competitive global community. “We will restore the teacher and nursing training allowances – for us, it is non-negotiable. Every nation must prioritize certain sectors at every point in time and invest the necessary resources to reap maximum benefits and, for the NPP, Ghana today needs to invest every necessary resource in education to give us the quality human resource we need to win the globally competitive economic battle,” he said. Dr. Bawumia made these comments at the Dambai College of Education (DACE), on Monday, after listening to the complaints of students and lecturers of the College on conditions of teacher trainees and colleges of education across the country. Speaking at the Forum, Mr. Lambert Ahiadzu Sefadzi, Head of the Social Sciences Department at the College, decried the current conditions of colleges of education, stating that the current government has no policy framework toward teacher education. “There are a lot of problems facing colleges of education but only one has gained prominence: the issue of the withdrawal of the teacher trainee allowances. However, there are other problems, including inability of government to implement fully the Colleges of Education Bill, poor infrastructure among others. The Colleges of Education Bill which was passed in 2012 making the colleges tertiary institutions is not fully implemented. When it suits government, they cite parts of the Bill, for example the withdrawal of Teacher Trainee Allowances. “It would interest you to know that since 2012, tutors in Colleges of Education have been doing the work of tertiary teachers but are paid like teachers of basic and secondary cycle schools, though they have all the qualification required by the National Council of Tertiary Education. Migration of teachers of Colleges of Education to the NCTE payroll has also not been done. Government continues to drag its feet saying there is no money while teachers continue to do everything and produce Diploma certificated teachers, without any commensurate compensation. “They have reduced entry requirements to attract a lot of people to Colleges of Education. In the past, individuals were required to have at least C6 in all core subjects to gain entry to the Colleges of Education but because the cost of training has gone up and individuals are financing their education, they have reduced the entry requirement to D7 to attract a lot of students and this is what they are using to boast that enrolment has increased in Colleges of Education.” Asaanah Peter Anagbila, a student of the College, stated that as a result of the scrapping of the allowances, though it has been three weeks since the school reopened for classes, many of their colleagues have not been able to return because they have not been able to find money to pay for their fees and for their upkeep. “I am happy to know that Nana Akufo-Addo and Dr. Bawumia have indicated their resolve to restore the teacher trainee allowances. This is what gives us hope and we are grateful. With the restoration of teacher trainee allowances, teacher education will be once again attractive in Ghana,” he added. When he took his turn, Dr. Bawumia explained that the NDC government had decided to take the path of taxing every conceivable item and abolishing all kinds of expenditure because it had mismanaged the unprecedented resources that had come into the country within the last 7 years. “In the government’s desperation and recourse to a fixation on taxation and unfortunate cuts in the hope that it would fill the hole they have sunk the Ghanaian economy into, they have also cancelled the all-important teacher trainee allowances. It is instructive to note that this policy, like the many other desperate schemes, was introduced around 2013 and 2014 after the Government had recklessly borrowed and overspent in the 2012 Election year leading to double digit fiscal deficits in 2012 and 2013. “Ladies and Gentlemen, when you are desperate and when you find yourself in a hole, any idea will sound great to you because you have very limited options. It is therefore not surprising the number of desperate schemes and policies this government keeps innovating in attempt to climb back up from the hole,” he stated. Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia noted that the decision to scrap the allowances was worrying as it betrays a lack of appreciation of the need to prioritise education and especially the training of key professionals such as teachers and nurses. “As the government continues to claim that the policy to scrap the allowances is the best thing to have happened to teacher trainees and training colleges, the supposed biggest beneficiaries of the policy, trainees, continue to cry out and face unbearable hardships to keep themselves in school after the cancellation of the allowances,” he lamented. Dr. Bawumia reiterated the NPP’s promise to restore the allowances to ensure that Ghana develops the necessary human resource for development.