Feature Article of Thursday, 11 October 2012
Columnist: Klu, Maxwell
It is rather disheartening that education, the bedrock of development has suffered the severest experimentation in our dear nation in the bid to prepare the human resource adequately to shoulder the responsibilities of the future in the world of work and advancing the politico-socio-economic and technological advancement of our dear country.
By the 1950s there were approximately 3000 primary and secondary schools in Ghana and 6.6% of the 4.2 million population were in School. The 1961 Act, (Act 87) initiated by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was aimed at achieving Free Universal Primary Education. The Act made Education compulsory and free. No fee, other than the payment for the provision of essential books or stationary or materials required by pupils for use in practical work, was charged in respect of tuition at a public primary, middle or special school.
By1983 the educational system was in a state of crisis. It faced drastic reductions in Government financing, lack of educational materials, and deterioration of school structures, low enrolment levels and high dropout rates. With the assistance of several development partners (World Bank, Department for International Development and international grants) the education system was reviewed and proposals were implemented in 1987. It is in the light of these educational challenges, the framers of the constitution including the general public states in Chapter five of the 1992 constitution in Article 25 (1) All persons shall have the right to equal educational opportunities and facilities and with a view to achieving the full realization of that right- (a) basic education shall be free, compulsory and available to all; (b) secondary education in its different forms, including technical and vocational education, shall be made generally available and accessible to all by every appropriate means, and in particular, by the progressive introduction of free education;
Currently, Ghana has 12,630 primary schools, 503 senior high schools, 10 polytechnics, 38 teacher training colleges now known as colleges of education, 18 technical institutions, two diploma-awarding institutions and five public universities (two in the offing) serving a population of 25 million. Over 280,000 Ghanaian students take the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) at the end of JHS 3 (ninth grade) in nine or ten subjects. Admission to Senior High School is competitive: only 70,000 students can be admitted into the 503 senior high schools. About 40% of students fail any given exam. The question of the remaining 210,000 students leaves us with deficiencies in the academic facilities in terms of infrastructure and other logistical constrains with Ghana spending between 28 percent and 40 percent of its annual budget on education with foreign support for some budgetary allocations. This makes it increasingly important for a nation to critically examine and evaluate the challenges facing the educational sector holistically, realistically and comprehensively. It therefore amazes me when a political party as the NPP can just engage in a debasing argument of free senior high school when basic education is clouded with challenges in making it truly free and compulsory with no vivid and down to earth interventions enumerated in addressing the teeming SHS dropouts that cannot access the limited tertiary institutions.
It is very instructive to note that even secondary education alone forms just a subset if not a microcosm of the challenges that stares education in this country in the face. Educational resources such as classroom blocks and libraries, school supplies and technical skills equipment, science laboratories, dormitories, teacher to student ratio, teacher motivation ( salary, accommodation, sponsorship for continues education) , adequately resourcing the Ghana Education Service for effective supervision, pedagogical to facilitate teachers at early childhood care and development( the formative stages of education) and specially furnished setups for students with disability, students with special need and gifted students are either not enough or non-existent.
At this juncture, a clarion call beckons all the respectable and revered stakeholders of the educational sector to join the debate as technocrats whose voices should not only be heard when they want to embark on strike. The stakeholders should not allow the political parties alone to play on the keyboard of people’s emotions since they have the penchant of making promises they cannot fulfill and thereby formulating some kinds of “lorgorligi logarithmic” theories attempting to throw dust in the faces of unsuspecting Ghanaians.
BY: MAXWELL KLU firstname.lastname@example.org