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"The Future of GNAT In The Smooth Dispensation of Education Cannot Be Overemphasised" - Kojo Armah


A Lecturer at the Department of Data Science and Economic Policy, School of Economics at the University of Cape Coast, Dr. Mark Kojo Armah has stressed that the future of GNAT and its role as a catalyst in the smooth dispensation of education in Ghana cannot be overemphasized.


According to him, as the country celebrates the hard work of the stakeholders, they need to reflect on the future of GNAT and its membership.


Speaking at the 6th Quadrennial (53rd) Greater Accra Regional Delegates Conference of the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) in Accra, he said "It is in this regard that I invite this august house to join me to congratulate all the members and the leaders-both past and present on how far GNAT Greater Accra has come and to celebrate this momentous milestone with you"


He added that being 90 years is a clear indication of the tenacity of the association especially considering the myriad of challenges that came along the way that had threatened its very existence.


Mr. Armah also mentioned that the country celebrates ninety years of existence of such a venerable association, it is important to acknowledge the hard work of not only the forefathers and the regional executives.


"But also the entire leadership, staff, teachers, and other stakeholders of GNAT who have worked assiduously to make the union what it is today"


Touching on the brief history of GNAT, he said "Mr. Chairman, I will like to crave your indulgence to allow me to cast our minds back at how the journey of GNAT all began. The history of GNAT has been well documented in the various manuals and books (Bediako, 1970; Akrofi, Osae and Amoako, 2012; Darkwah, 2018)"


He noted that the association began with the name Ghana school Teachers Association (GSTA) and later became the National Union of Teachers (NUT) during the colonial era under Governor Gordon Guggisberg in 1925 or thereabout


Mr. Armah further explained that as at the time, the unions were largely dependent on the government of the day for subvention in order to undertake their activities.


"Their object around the time was to fight for recognition by the colonial administration and also to express their displeasure on the disparities in their incentives and salaries.


Mr. Chairman, the event that brought to bare the labour and welfare negotiation skills of the association was the proposed 29% cut in salary of teachers in the Gold Coast in 1931. The government attributed to the trade slump the world economy experienced in the aftermath of the First World War"


He stated that Mr. James Topp Nelson Yankah and the leaders used trade union strategies including demonstrations, lobbying and good negotiation skills to force the government to change its policy and subsequently, the salary cut was reduced by 5% for all government workers instead and not for only teachers as previously proposed.


This he said strengthened the work and position of the association as the mouthpiece and the chief welfare advocate of teachers.


"In the light of the success chalked, it became crucial for teachers to chart the path of unification which eventually saw the light of day when all the splinter teacher unions amalgamated into what is now Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) on 14th July, 1962. Bediako (1970) documents that at its inception, all teachers in the pre-University institutions were members with the exception of pupil teachers who were associate members. The membership was thus, compulsory. Today this has changed. GNAT has competitors and is in competition with the other teacher unions for the recruitment and retention of members. Indeed, it is the truth that these other teacher unions were formed out of GNAT. Teachers (trained and trainees) have now the option to decide  either to be part of GNAT or any of the other teacher unions to wit; NAGRAT, CCT, etc."


He reminded the gathering that GNAT is the most vibrant Pre-Tertiary Education Teacher Union in Ghana ahead of its competitors.


He noted that it has over 75% of the membership of the teaching personnel of the Ghana Education Service and is registered as a Trade Union under Section 84 of the Labour Act, 2003 (Act 651).


He noted that GNAT is also registered as a Professional Association with the National Teaching Council in line with the New Education Act of 2008, (Act 778).


"Its present vision is to be the most Proactive, Vibrant and Results Oriented Teacher Union that champions the progress of teachers and the quality of education delivery in Ghana. It aims at securing better conditions of service for teachers (members), promoting high academic standards and professionalism among its members. GNAT currently holds the Collective Bargaining Certificate, and that gives it the mandate to continue to lead negotiations with the government and the Ghana Education Service (GES) on bargaining and non-bargaining issues on behalf of teachers in Ghana"


Highlighting some challenges facing GNAT, he said "Union pluralism and the control of members as a professional body. The proliferation of ‘rival’ unions such as NAGRAT, CCT should be seen as an opportunity for GNAT to be strong, growth-oriented, and be  more focused in galvanizing and marshalling resources for effective mobilization of its members"


The Prof also explained that higher expectations of members beyond the means of the union as also part of the challenges.


"Poor commitment on the part of the government to implementing teacher-friendly and welfare policies and programmes. For example, collective agreements are rarely implemented. No promotion scheme for the staff of GNAT. This situation can provoke attrition of critical staff. Internal wrangling within the administrative and political structures of GNAT (displayed in the media)" he said.


On the way forward, Prof. Mark Armah hinted that a call for increased broader membership participation is not one-sided adding that it demands the collaboration and cooperation of all stakeholders within the GNAT fraternity.


"It demands that members, as well as leadership of GNAT, play their roles in making this call a reality. In this regard, I will want  to first share some of the key roles that GNAT has to play and then proceed to highlight  that of membership to ensure broader participation"


On his part, Representing the Greater Accra Regional Minister, the Municipal Chief Executive of Krowor, Nii Bortey Joshua commended teachers in deprived communities for their immense contribution in educating children and adults in the country.


He assured them of the Government's commitment of targeted incentives to teachers to accept postings to such areas.


"The aim of Government is to provide quality education for all. As a result, we will continue to collaborate with MCE and MMDCEs to provide infrastructure facilities at all levels"


"Government launched reforms to support teacher training and Free SHS. We have taken measures to improve the conditions of teachers. The provision of decent accommodation and enhanced retirement benefits"


He mentioned that it will motivate them to work well.


He mentioned that agreements have been far reached for Government to construct 100,000 affordable housing units for teachers.


A Representative from the Trader Union Congress, Freda Frimpong said "For the infamous 4%, I want to appeal to you to have confidence in the leadership for your interest is at heart. The covid has been critical on all. We know that you impact so much in others."


She charged the government to look into the 4% allocated to teachers adding that they need more.


"Now that there is digital learning, what impact will the teacher make during this covid period. This is the best time to form a great alliance with other sister unions to fight together" she added.


Some teachers who spoke to Thinknewsonline.com on anonymity appealed to Government to reconsider the 4% allocated to teachers.


They also called for logistics to improve teaching and learning.


Below are pictures and video:









Story by: Joshua Kwabena Smith

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