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General News of Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Source: GNA

New Education Reform Launched

..JSS replaced by JHS
SSS will be SHS

Accra, April 11, GNA - President John Agyekum Kufuor on Wednesday launched a new Education Reform Programme that proposes eleven years of Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) and four years of Senior High School (SHS) formerly Senior Secondary School (SSS).

The new system, which would be implemented from September 1, 2007, starts with two years of kindergarten for pupils at age four; six years of primary school at which the pupil attains age 12; to be followed by three years of Junior High School (JHS) till the pupil is 15 years. After the JHS, the student may choose to go into different streams of the four years of Senior High School which would offer General Education with electives in General, Business, Technical, Vocational and Agricultural Education options for entry into Tertiary Institutions or the job market.

President Kufuor noted that the reform was designed, among other things, to prepare the appropriate human resource in the form of skilled, technologically-advanced and disciplined workforce with the right ethics to service the growing economy.

He said the Reform placed emphasis on Mathematics, Science and Technology, but to develop a well rounded society, the Arts and Social Sciences would continue to receive the necessary support in the curriculum.

"This should promote Ghana's surge into the Golden age of business and national prosperity. It should also reinforce Ghana's role as a beacon nation in the resurgence of Africa as envisioned in the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD)."

President Kufuor said the expectation of the Education Reform, which coincided with the UN's Millennium Development Goals, was to advance the literacy rate to 100 per cent by 2015, pay special attention to girls' education to make them better mothers and heighten awareness of the environment to preserve national resources.

He said an Apprenticeship Programme, organized jointly by the State and Industry for skills acquisition would be available for students, who opted for employment after Junior High School, of which the cost of the first year would be borne by the State.

President Kufuor said the Reform also acknowledged the mastery of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as a priority and that as skills in ICT had become crucial for the survival of the global world, government would extend the national broadband backbone connectivity throughout the country to facilitate the development of ICT infrastructure in schools.

President Kufuor said teacher quality was critical to the implementation of the Reform Programme at all levels hence the Government was committed to improving the conditions of service of teachers to motivate them to give of their best.

He said currently the upgrading and refurbishment of all the 38 Teacher Training Colleges in the country were underway and that 15 of them were being specially equipped for Science, Mathematics and Technology which constituted the new focus of the educational delivery programme.

He said the Government was establishing a National Teachers Council to regulate the profession and that a Distance Education Programme to upgrade teachers while still at post was ongoing to ensure that they were abreast with the best practices of their profession to serve all schools irrespective of their location in the country. He said Tertiary education would also benefit from the Reform as a policy was underway to expand residential accommodation, lecture halls, laboratories and libraries of the 15 Universities and 10 Polytechnics of the country.

He said the Educational Reform Programme had been under preparation since 2002 and commended Professor Jophus Anamuah-Mensah, Vice Chancellor of the University of Education, Winneba and his Review Committee Team for a remarkable work done in analyzing the educational structures and contents to make the Reform possible.

President Kufuor said nurturing a child was hardly the exclusive preserve of educational institutions and called on families; religious groups; nongovernmental organisations (NGOs); Civil Society at large and the Media to join hands with school authorities to create comprehensive network of oversight for a rational educational system.

Papa Owusu-Ankomah, Minister of Education, Science and Sports, noted that a sober look at the country's education system brought out major failures, which if left unresolved would hinder efforts to propel Ghana to a great future.

He said about 60 per cent of Junior Secondary School (JSS) graduates left school ill equipped and not proficient in craft and technical skills to enter the job market.

Papa Owusu-Ankomah said the new Education Reform was the best that the country could afford, that would address these systemic faults and correlate to the needs of industry so as to maximize potentials.

He said the Reform had innovation at its core with the decentralization of Government's supervision and monitoring to enhance effectiveness and create a paradigm shift in the approach to education. Papa Owusu-Amkomah said some of the innovations included emphasis on literacy; numeracy, creative arts and problem solving skills, adding that lessons would be learnt through play at the kindergarten level. At the Lower Primary, English, Basic Mathematics Skills; Natural Science and the Dominant Ghanaian Language of the area would be taught. "Tackling the toughest problems is indeed the truest sign of leadership and to that extent we laud again the efforts of President Kufuor, Professor Anamuah-Mensah and countless other unsung heroes who have made this day possible."

Professor Jerome Djangmah, Chairman of the West African Examination Council (WAEC), who chaired the launch, urged the Government to ensure that conditions of service for teachers were improved to support the implementation of the Reform.

"If West African countries ignore their teachers, they will pay dearly for their sins" he said, adding that at the appropriate time Past Director Generals Ghana Education Service would send a memorandum to the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports to enhance the implementation process.

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