The Eastern Region New Patriotic Party has, with trepidation, taken note of the statements made by Mrs Matilda Amissah Arthur, wife of the Vice President of Ghana, Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, to the Head teacher, teachers, students, Nananom and their elders, pastors and dignitaries when she was on official duty at the Kukurantumi Presbyterian Primary School to distribute five (5) computers to the school. This visit was on Wednesday 15 July, 2015.
We are informed that the second lady chastised the headteacher in the presence of her teachers, students and the press because the headteacher had dared to request for the needs of the school – chalk, teachers notebooks, register and other such material necessary for the easy facilitation of their work as teachers and educators. She had also apparently requested for school uniforms for her students.
Mrs Amissah-Arthur had taken time out to travel all the way from Accra in the convoy of at least ten air conditioned vehicles including V8 Landcruisers and a lot of personnel in her entourage to present five computers to the school. Given that Government has over the years been the supplier of the basic implements for teaching, and in the last few years these have not been forthcoming, the presence of the wife of the second in command in government was ample opportunity for such a request to be heard. It was also the campaign of the NDC to supply schools with uniforms for the students thus warranting such a request of no mean a person than Mrs Amissah Arthur, who is also a mother.
In her response Mrs Amissah Arthur turned her venom on the headteacher and virtually all present, stating how disappointed she was in the headteacher for making such a request. Her response virtually characterized the headteacher, teachers, the PTA and community leaders as greedy ingrates for asking for anything or more of it. She blatantly stated that she would not get them chalk wondering why chalk, which she deems so cheap, cannot be purchased by the schools on their own since government cannot be expected to do it all. In her consideration school administrators, and by extension parents, have become spoilt and, by implication, irresponsible because government was giving them school uniforms, a gesture she deems to be a benevolent act. She was not kind or considerate with her utterances.
As a Party with a history of ensuring that education is fully catered for we are duly concerned about the statement made by Mrs Amissah-Arthur.
Our history which includes
providing for distance learning opportunities for teachers,
capitation grant for the schools,
ensuring that the GETFUND was efficiently used for the benefit of many institutions,
the increase in the expansion of our tertiary institutions to offer access to more students and
free mass transport for children to get to school with little financial burden on their parents and
the introduction of the school feeding program.
We are scandalized by Mrs Amissah Arthur’s statements especially bearing in mind the fact that she is the second lady and must know better to be compassionate and all embracing. It must also be noted that Mrs Amissah Arthur is fully responsible for these statements and their negative repercussions because she was on the campaign trail with her husband and the NDC candidate John Mahama when they promised to provide free school uniforms to schools.
Reports reaching us is that the GES has sent various inspectorate teams to the Kukuruantumi Presby Primary school since this incidence ostensibly to victimize the headteacher and her staff for speaking the truth about the plight of teaching and learning in their school. This is a dangerous development and must be stopped immediately.
We are highly disappointed with the non-provision of basic items like teachers’ notebooks, registers chalk and other teaching essentials to schools in the region for teaching and learning several weeks after the reopening of schools. The provision of these basic items has been the responsibility of government from time immemorial. Since the coming into office of the NDC government, the educational institutions have not hidden the difficulties they have encountered with the supply of these essentials. We therefore would have expected that Mrs Amissah Arthur would have been less condescending. She must note that it is the failings of the Mahama-Amissah Arthur government that has led to the shortage of these essentials such as chalk in our schools.
We wish to remind all and sundry that it is for the political expediency of President John Mahama and his NDC government that they decided to rather distribute school uniforms and sandals as a priority to educate children. In some reports it turns out some of the uniforms were oversized and inappropriate for students. The question to be asked is ‘how does a pupil who has been supplied with an oversized school uniform learn if the teacher has no chalk or notebook to make notes?’. The teacher, who must be at the center of our education management system, has since 2009 been totally deprived of these basic teaching materials thus making them highly demotivated.
As a political party that believes that education is key for the development of this great nation of ours, we have decided out of our widows might even in opposition to donate 4000 packets of chalk and 500 attendance registers costing about GHC 7,000 to all the basic schools in the Kukuruantumi township and Nkurankan township in the East Akyem Municipality and Yilo Krobo District respectively for a start. We have tasked all our 33 constituency offices in the region to furnish us with the data of all basic schools in their jurisdiction for the purposes of planning for the next academic year. In furtherance to this, we have also had discussions with all our MPs and Parliamentary Candidates in the region to ensure that all basic schools in their constituencies have been provided with adequate teaching and learning materials (TLM) whenever the government reneges on this basic responsibility.
We also take note of how Mrs Amissah Arthur, in her purported diplomacy, took on the Nananom, parents and the community as though they had no inkling of what their needs are and how to tackle them. She appears not to have taken into consideration the fact that the statement of the headteacher could have been expressed on behalf of the community based on frustrations the face in their efforts to help the school; frustrations from the poor governance of the NDC government under the leadership of Mr Mahama and Mr Amissah-Arthur.
From her background as a professional librarian who should appreciate the efforts of teachers and thank them, she instead sought to humiliate the headteacher and did so in the presence of her pupils, the teachers she supervises, and Nananom and the community leaders who she works with.
Mrs Amissah Arthur should apologise to the headteacher in particular and teachers in general in the country. Teachers have never been responsible for the provision of chalk, their notebooks, registers and other such materials. It has always been government. Parents were always responsible for the uniforms of their wards until Mr Mahama, Mr Amissah Arthur and the NDC made it a governmental responsibility. The public knows and is clearly aware that it is their tax money that is used to purchase the chalk and the uniforms. It was therefore unwarranted for a representative of the government and the NDC with the stature of Mrs Amissah Arthur to behave in the manner she did.
Mrs Amissah arthur’s apology should also go to our revered Nananom, the pastors and all the dignitaries who were present at the function. She must recall that old mantra “if you can read thank the teacher”.
Mr Mahama and Mr Amissah Arthur should focus on ensuring that what is left of their time in office is used in ensuring that they return our educational management system back to a better state than they have led it to. The supply of essentials is the responsibility of government. They must not blame or chastise our hardworking teachers and parents for the failings of their offices.
We take this opportunity to plead with teachers in the Eastern Region and Ghana to continue with their good work in the face of the constraints and challenges created by the Mahama-NDC government. The NPP, under the able leadership of Nana Akufo-Addo, will restore and advance our educational system in its rightful transformative direction for the betterment of our young ones who are our future.