Press Review of Thursday, 12 April 2007
Yesterday marked another milestone in the history of education in the country. The new educational reform which seeks to equip our youth well enough to meet the challenges of the 21st Century was launched by no less a personality than the President of the Republic.
Clearly, our desire and aspiration to reach a middle-income status make it imperative that the youth are well equipped to enable them to contribute their quota towards national development.
Consequently, they must be prepared to be on top of Science, Information and Communication Technology (ICT). Besides, premium must be placed on training in technical, vocational and agricultural disciplines.
This means basic education must provide a solid foundation on which the superstructure will be built. No wonder the reform seeks to expose children to literacy and numeracy, for instance, from the kindergarten level.
Recent records show that the country’s educational system has produced many school leavers who have not been adequately prepared for the world of work. That was not the case in the good old days when even the Middle School Leaving Certificate meant much.
We have had Dr Kwame Nkrumah’s Accelerated Development Plan of Education, which sought to expand rapidly recruitment into basic and secondary schools; the Prof. Alex Kwapong Education Review Committee, which brought about continuation schools in 1966, the Professor Dzobo Review Committee of 1974, which introduced the comprehensive junior secondary school (JSS) concept, and the latest reform which began in 1987.
In spite of all these, to date the country has not found answers to the problem of churning out school leavers who do not have the competencies in literacy and numeracy to enable them to continue their education or embark on continuous learning for self-improvement.
Neither do many of the school leavers have the technical skills nor craftsmanship to prepare them for the world of work.
The surest way of checking the increasing number of unemployable school leavers is to make the Free Compulsorily Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) work and ensure that the youth are given quality education to enable them to solve problems.
Indeed, quality education has been the main springboard on which the development of many countries has depended.
The new educational reform recognises the roles of technical institutions and the polytechnics in the scheme of things. We expect that we will go all out to ensure that they are supported to play those roles effectively.
Significantly, unlike the JSS of the previous reform, the junior high school (JHS) is not envisaged as a terminal programme for the majority of pupils (now about 60 per cent). It is rather an entry point for senior high school (SHS) in different categories.
Those who cannot move on the academic ladder could take advantage of well-structured apprenticeships to adequately prepare themselves for the world of work.
Additionally, the missing link between technical education and industry is provided under the reform so that industry and schools can collaborate to meet the demands and challenges.
Furthermore, the reform sees the need to motivate teachers, the most critical factor in the process. Teachers’ competencies will be sharpened to enable them to deliver.
The Anamuah Committee which carried out the educational reform did a good job, while the National Educational Reform Implementation Committee (NERIC) has also done its job and we commend them for their efforts.
We anticipate that there would be a series of public education programmes to clear whatever questions may agitate the minds of the people about the reform and satisfactory answers provided.
Above all, it is important that all stakeholders — policy makers, parents, teachers, the private sector, religious groups — put their weight behind the reform, which is designed to change the fortunes of the country.
It is important that we own it and ensure that it succeeds.