Child Rights International (CRI) has sued pre-tertiary teachers arguing that their strike action is unconstitutional, inconsistent and in contravention of the fundamental human rights of pre-tertiary students and pupils to administrative fairness guaranteed under the 1992 constitution.
It accuses the teachers of violating the rights of pre-tertiary students and pupils against subjection to torture, inhuman, cruel and degrading treatment as well as their dignity.
Original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court invoked
The Civil Society Organisation has therefore invoked the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to protect and enforce the fundamental human rights of pre-tertiary students and pupils.
Defendants in the suit dated November 11, 2022 and filed at the Supreme Court are Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), Coalition of Concerned Teachers (CCT) as well as Attorney General and Minister of Justice.
14 days to file defence
The unions and Attorney General have 14 days to file their defence.
November 4 strike
The three Unions declared the strike on Friday, November 4, 2022, after the expiration of an ultimatum they gave the government to rescind its decision to appoint Dr. Eric Nkansah as the Director of the Ghana Education Service (GES).
The Unions are also demanding the termination of contract of the Deputy Director-General of GES, Mr Anthony Boateng, who they claimed had worked over the retiring age for civil servants
Protest against GES DG should not affect teaching and learning
The child centred organization noted that teachers opposing the appointment of Director General of Ghana Education Service (GES) should not have affected the right to education of pre-tertiary students and pupils.’
Strike is unfair and unreasonable
Therefore, Child Rights argues that the strike is unfair and unreasonable considering the fact that there are other avenues to seek redress including instituting legal action in court without suspending teaching and learning.
Strike causing students and pupils to suffer greatly
The CSO said the teachers have chosen the easier path causing the students and pupils to suffer greatly notwithstanding their legitimate interests and rights to be taught and to learn.
Strike not directly related to conditions of service
Child Rights said the reason for the strike by teacher union is not directly related to their conditions of service but rather, about the president exercising his authority to appoint the leadership of GES.
Teachers committing same alleged illegalities they are protesting against
It noted that while the teachers are on strike over alleged unconstitutional act, their action also violates the same constitution and breaches the rights of pre-tertiary students and pupils to administrative fairness.
Strike in contravention of fundamental human rights of pre-tertiary students
Child Rights argues that the strike action is in contravention of the fundamental human rights of pre-tertiary students and pupils to administrative fairness guaranteed under the 1992 constitution particularly article 23.
Teacher unions violate the rights of pre-tertiary students
In the documents filed, the CSO said in an attempt to exercise their economic rights through a strike, the teacher unions violated the rights of pre-tertiary students and pupils to education.
Strike should not affect legitimate rights of others and the public interest
While recognizing the right of teacher unions to embark on strike, Child Rights argues that it should be exercise in a manner that that does not affect the legitimate rights of others and the public interest.
It stated that the pre-tertiary students and pupils are constitutionally guaranteed rights to education as provided in articles 25(1) and 28(4) saying the rights are inherent in a democracy and intended to secure their freedom and dignity as they are meant for their development.
Right to equal educational opportunities
It said articles 25(1) provides that all persons have the right to equal educational opportunities and facilities and with a view to achieving the full realization of that right.
According to Child Rights, the strike by teachers deprived pre-tertiary students and pupils of their rights to education in a manner not sanctioned by the constitution.
Violation of the constitution
It is the contention of Child Rights that the limitation of the fundamental human rights of pre-tertiary students and pupils in this manner is not only an infringement on their fundamental human rights to education but also a violation of the constitution.
The CSO said teachers exercising their economic rights must take into account their duty to respect the rights, freedoms, and legitimate interests of the students and pupils by refraining from acts detrimental to the welfare of the students and pupils.
Education put in jeopardy
It argued that the suffering of the students and pupils is not only unjust but cruel, inhuman and degrading as their education has been put in jeopardy.
Child Rights stated that as the students and pupils in public schools are denied their rights to education, their counterparts in private school schools continue to enjoy their rights.
The CSO is of the view that withdrawing their services in the manner in which they did it is nothing more than failing to work conscientiously in their lawfully chosen occupation contrary to article 41(e).
SOURCE: The Finder