The National Service Scheme -NSS is a constitutional mandate for all newly qualified Ghanaian university graduates. The scheme is organised for individuals under the age of 40, who have graduated from accredited tertiary institutions; these graduates are required under law to do a one-year national service to the country.
Ghana sees up to tens of thousand graduates every year, mobilised and posted to various sectors. These placements mostly fall under government parastatals, where these individuals work, as a form of civic responsibility to the nation.
The NSS which is governed by Act 426, is supervised by the government and is mandatory for all Ghanaian graduates irrespective of the type of sponsorship the individual may have received or the country in which the tertiary course was pursued in.
This simply means that regardless of where an individual has had his tertiary education, he is required to serve as a service personnel in the country to be fully eligible for any formal employment within the country.
Objectives of the Scheme
The National Service Scheme seeks to develop common ties among Ghanaians and promote national unity and integration. It also seeks to develop a sense of corporate existence and common destiny of the people of Ghana.
The NSS seeks to enable Ghanaian youths to acquire the spirit of self-reliance by encouraging them to develop skills for self-employment -hence, contributing to the accelerated growth of the country’s economy.
NSS Hierarchy of Power
The Board of the service oversees the affairs of the National Service Scheme. After the board comes the Executive Director and two Deputy Executive Directors who take charge of operations and Human resource management.
One deputy executive director is the head of Finance and Administration, while the other is in charge of the service’s operations. The executive director and the deputies supervise the activities of the Heads of various Departments –all at the national level.
The Regional Director heads the activities of the NSS at the regional level. The director supervises the work of the various District Directors. There are 10 regional heads supervising all 10 regional capitals.
Terms of Service
The scheme is guided by rules and principles which shape the nature and scope of the exercise. The terms of service of the NSS is more or less a code of conduct.
The terms of service simply refer to what is obtainable in the scheme with regards to the code of conduct. Having said that let us take a look at the and T and Cs of the NSS.
Every service personnel is given a monthly report form. This is where the employer gives remarks regarding the performance of the service personnel. This form is to be completed and submitted to the District office of the NSS by 15th of every month.
A personnel stands at risk of losing his allowance for that particular month should fail top to submit the form
The National Scheme is mandatory and cannot be evaded. Every service personnel will be paid a monthly allowance by the government. The Ministry of Finance oversees the payment of allowances to personnel.
Leave During Period of Service
- Annual Leave
Though objective, the NSS is indeed accommodating and considerate. The scheme which lasts for a period of one year, allows a one-month terminal leave to service personnel during the course of their work.
- Maternity Leave
For the women, female service personnel may apply for a 3-month maternity leave. To answer the likely question (would she still make up for the 3 months?), yes she will. If the leave is granted the personnel, she is to serve for three extra months to make up for the period of service lost.
How Can a pregnant lady go about this?
To be granted maternity leave, the expectant mother is expected to inform her employer who will inform both the Executive Director and the Regional Directors of the Secretariat. Only then can anyone proceed on maternity Leave. It is important to note that Personnel who are granted maternity leaves are not paid during the time of their leave.
End of Service Year
After completing the one-year compulsory service, a service personnel is issued with a Certificate of National Service.
Offences in NSS
Despite its accommodating nature, the NSS does not compromise on its basic principles. There are offences with appropriate sanctions under the NSS Act 426.
This is a situation whereby a service personnel’s reports remain dormant for more than 3 months. Personnel who do not report to their posts after 3 months of being posted are considered to have evaded the service.
This case sees service personnel post themselves to establishments other than those, to which they were officially posted. This offence could be either with or without the knowledge of the Heads of those establishments. This self-posters, when fished out, have their service nullified as their placements are not recognised by the NSS.
This is where a service personnel takes up posting but does not complete the full period, without proper authorization from the Board. Three months after desertion, the service person shall be declared an evader under the NSS Act. Hence, any National Service rendered before desertion will be nullified and personnel shall be made to start afresh.