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General News of Thursday, 8 May 2008

Source: GNA

174 basic schools' classes take place under trees

WA, May 8, GNA - One hundred and seventy-four (174) classes in basic schools in the Upper West Region are held under trees, despite Government's effort to improve the infrastructure profile at the basic school level.

Of this number, 104 are found in primary schools, 51 in kindergarten and 19 in Junior High Schools, Mr Cletus Paaga, the Regional Director of Education, said this at the 2008 educational sector regional review workshop at Wa on Thursday.

He said there are also 274 Primary, 207 JHS and 37 Kindergarten classrooms in dilapidated conditions through out the region, whilst 209, 15 and 72 classes in Primary, JHS and Kindergartens respectively are held under makeshift structures such as sheds.

Mr Paaga said enrolment figures increased by 2,576 children in Kindergarten, 4,623 in Primary and 2,520 in JHS in 2007, whilst Senior High Schools and the Teacher Training Colleges in the region recorded no changes.

He described the performance of the region at Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE), as very encouraging with five out of the eight districts namely, Wa Municipal, Nadowli, Wa East and West and Sissala East Districts falling within the first 40 in the performance league table.

The low performance in some districts was attributed to poor supply of teachers, as there are 1,516 trained teachers against 1,533 Pupil teachers most of whom are community teaching assistants recruited under the National Youth Employment Programme.

Out of the number of trained teachers, Mr Paaga said 393 of them had applied for study leave this year, but noted that, the Government had decided to sponsor only 3,000 trained teachers for tertiary courses annually.

He, therefore, appealed to the district assemblies to take up the responsibility of sponsoring those who would not be considered by the government for sponsorship.

Mr George Hikah Benson, Upper West Regional Minister regretted that there were 1,060 teaching vacancies to be filled in the region and asked the district assemblies to fashion out strategies that would attract teachers to their districts.

The Regional Minister said a holistic approach to teaching and learning in schools was needed to improve performance in basic schools, whilst the situation in the Senior High Schools could be improved if the teachers increased their level of commitment to teaching.

He warned district directors of education and teachers against using their positions to engage in partisan politics, saying he would not hesitate to call for the transfer of any district director who would openly campaign for any political party.

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