Ten thousand staff of the Ghana Education Service (GES) have been asked to provide documents to correct discrepancies in their date of birth or be prepared to proceed on retirement after April 30.
Apart from the 10,000 staff who will go on retirement if they fail to do so by the deadline, 50,630 others, constituting 20 per cent of the entire workforce of the GES, will be affected by the new directive later.
The directive has become necessary because the GES has detected discrepancies in the personal records of the affected staff available to the service and those they have provided for the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT).
The affected staff, who should have gone on pension either by the end of 2017 or should be going on retirement by the end of 2018, were initially given up to March 2018 to submit the documents but the deadline has been extended to April 30, 2018 to give them more time to do so.
The documents include birth certificates issued at most 10 years after birth, personal records forms/cards completed on first entry into the service, SSNIT records, baptismal certificates issued at most 10 years after birth, passports issued at most 25 years after birth, educational records (elementary or secondary school) and educational certificates, with dates of birth.
Deadline for submission
A circular from the GES, a copy of which is in the possession of the Daily Graphic, directs all GES workers, especially those affected by the discrepancies, “to provide the required satisfactory documentary evidence as indicated in this letter at your earliest convenience to confirm your date of birth”.
“You are to note that if by March 30, 2018 you have not provided the required satisfactory documentary evidence, you will be deemed to have compulsorily retired from the service and will be expected to proceed on your compulsory retirement by that date,” the circular, signed by the Director-General of the GES, Prof. Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa, and issued to the affected staff, read.
However, a second circular signed and issued by Prof. Opoku-Amankwa stated that the deadline had been extended to April 30, 2018 to give the affected people more time to submit their documents.
The GES has, meanwhile, admitted that some of the discrepancies could be genuine cases of misrepresentation and error, citing, for instance, the case of a worker whose year of birth was said to be 1924.
Another instance of genuine error is the case of a teacher of the Aboboya DC Primary School at Juabeso whose SSNIT age was said to be 1,998 years, while his records at the GES put his age at 45 years, giving an age differential of 1,953.
The Daily Graphic has gathered that the date of birth issue is a major source of concern to the leadership of the Ministry of Education, the GES Governing Council and the management of the GES, as it has serious implications on the payroll and the performance of the service.
Impact of age differentials
A source at the GES Headquarters expressed concern about the fact that such workers who were over 60 years were not able to put in their best “because they are old and tired and this is affecting productivity”.
“When people overstay their pension, they deny the rightful persons promotions; they cause undue increases in the wage bill and contribute to large numbers of graduate unemployment,” it said.
Of those 50,630 staff likely to be affected by the new directive, 67 are regional, divisional and district directors of education, 393 deputy directors (headmasters and headmistresses of senior high schools), 7,908 assistant directors of education, 494 accountants, 50 auditors and 51,718 other categories of staff.
A Daily Graphic investigation into the issue shows discrepancies in the dates of birth of the affected staff.
For instance, while the records of a GES worker at SSNIT indicate that the person was due for retirement in 2017, the records of the same person at the GES indicate that he will be due for retirement in 2020.
The age discrepancies between the bio-data at SSNIT and that at the GES vary between one and 20 years, and in most of the cases the ages of the affected staff with the SSNIT are higher than those in the GES records.
For those who were supposed to have retired in 2017, the Ashanti Region tops the list with 846, followed by Brong Ahafo with 620, with the Eastern, Northern, Western and Volta regions following with 548, 486, 439 and 424, respectively.
The Central, Greater Accra, Upper East and Upper West regions follow with 382, 284, 251 and 172, in that order.
Five do not have any indication of the region where they work.
Position of SSNIT
In an interview with the Daily Graphic, the Contact Centre Manager of SSNIT, Mrs Rachael Joel-Pappoe, indicated that although SSNIT notified contributors three months to their retirement, according to its records, it was not mandated to notify the employer of the contributor.
“SSNIT does not retire you; we just notify you by law that you are 60,” she explained.
She said even though morally it was criminal for someone to have more than one birthday, “we don’t have any policy on that”.
Mrs Joel-Pappoe said even as SSNIT notified contributors three months to their retirement, “it does not start processing your benefits until you give us the go-ahead because we need certain things from you, including evidence from your employer that you have retired”.
“We need a date of retirement from you and it comes by a letter from your employer that you have retired,” she said, explaining that as long as the contribution was still active, SSNIT would continue to receive the contribution and factor it into the calculation of the benefits.
When the teacher unions were contacted, they expressed concern about the issue and were hopeful that it would be resolved once and for all.
The General Secretary of the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), Mr David Ofori Acheampong, recalled that a similar issue cropped up some years ago and the affected people were asked to submit the relevant documents for the reconciliation of their dates of birth. He was hopeful that due diligence would be done this time round to bring the date of birth issue to a closure. Mr Acheampong further advised teachers to ensure that they provided their correct personal records at all times and cautioned them against engaging in fraudulent acts such as changing their documents, adding: “One day, you will be caught.”