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Regional News of Sunday, 15 September 2019

Source: Tabitha Kugbonu

Gov't to change Non-Formal Education Division to Alternative Education Agency

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Education gives different perspective on life and establishes a personal opinion after analyzing the situation.

Through education, society develops socially and economically by reducing poverty, child marriage, promote gender equality as well as to promote peace.

Knowledge and skills are acquired through education and it impacts our lives and make us dutiful in our daily life activities in the best possible ways.

For that matter, to be able to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) No. 4 on promoting inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning for all, we must ensure that, no one is left behind as far as education is concerned.

Through education, parents and guardians can help their wards to be open minded, mindful of their strengths and weakness and considerate of others, if both parents and guardians themselves have gone to school and become literate.

And the best way for parents and guardians who did not have the opportunity to receive the formal education is for them to embrace non-formal education which provides them with functional literacy and skills development training.

Out of school programmes are important to provide adaptable learning opportunities and new skills and knowledge to a large percentage of people who are beyond the reach of formal education.

Formal education is an institutionalised, international form of learning provided by specialized institutions. While in other words, non-formal education is about an additional, alternative and complementary way of education which implies the process of lifelong learning of people of different age groups.

The main focus of the non-formal education is to give functional training to adults, youth and persons living with disability to be able to engage them on how they can be able to read and write in their own local dialects as well as speak English Language, give them numeracy and also have skills development training to enable them contribute effectively to the development of their communities and the nation at large.

Non-formal education is widely seen to foster development and provide an alternative to formal education in developing countries.

The Government of Ghana established the non-formal education division in 1989 under the Ministry of Education to be the oversight division for the literacy program nationwide.

The primarily objectives of the literacy program is to ensure that, Ghanaian adults are given functional literacy training from age 15 and above by giving opportunity to especially women and Persons Living with Disability to be conscious of the environment in which they live in.

Speaking to Wilson Agbanyo, The Volta and Oti Regional Director of the Non-Formal Education Division, said the functional literacy training is a National program which is very significant because Ghana as country, no one can be left behind in education because when there is high literacy, it helps in the overall development of the nation.

He made some examples like, "When a community is literate, they are conscious of changing the world around them in their daily engagements with the work they do"

He added that, "A literate hairdresser is someone who can manage her customers very well than an illiterate hairdresser".

He stated that, the functional literacy training is in English Language and their local dialects and this has been grouped into various categories which includes; The Foundation Functional Literacy which deals with people who couldn't have the opportunity to even attend class 1 before and Basic Functional Literacy has its own three sub sections such as Basic learners; they are people who dropout from class 1-3, Intermediary learners are those who drop out of school from class 4-6, and Advance learners are the ones who drop out of school at the JHS level.

He indicated that the number of adult learners they have enrolled from 2018/2019 in the English class for the Volta and Oti Regions are 3,806 and out of that 1,387 formed Foundation learners, they have the 1,033 Basic learners, intermediary learners are 745 and advance learners 641 learners while in the local dialects the learners they have are 1,694. Out of which 609 formed Foundation learners, Basic learners 545, 392 Intermediary learners and advance learners constituted 148. And women formed close to 70% of the population in each category under the English and Local Languages.

Mr. Agbanyo said challenges in the Non-Formal Education Division include inadequate logistics to supervise the mid-year and end of year continues assessment for the learners, facilitators are no longer interested in doing voluntary work because initially their funding were coming from World Bank before it fade out so now that the government is doing it all, things are not moving on well.

He again said the current government is trying to pass a bill to enable the Non-Formal Education Division change to Alternative Education Agency (AEA) where some sort of funding would be flowing to sustain the literacy program.

And the main aim of AEA is to enable them go to the various communities and give literacy to those who drop out at the Basic level, and after 9 months of the training, they can be enrolled into the formal system.

He said this AEA program was started by The Ghana Education Service (GES) so as it stands now, GES would be facilitating the initiative.

Non-Formal Education Division has been collaborating with other Non-Governmental Organizations; among such organizations is Engage Now Africa (ENA) which aims to heal, rescue and uplift individuals from poverty among Africa countries. And they have also been contributing to the success of the literacy program nationwide.

Francis Kwabla Wama, Volta Regional Director of Engage Now Africa (ENA) said the literacy program had been going on in most part of the country but they started it in Volta Region in 2016 where they realized through their support to raise funds for women in micro businesses/micro credit, most of them are not making good use of the funds and is out of illiteracy so through that they were able to start the adult literacy program which runs in 18 months to enable the learners to know how to read and write and set up their own businesses.

He said they are in 6 districts in the Volta Region including Ho Central, Ho West, Central Tongu, Akatsi South, Ketu South and Ketu North. And about 4000 adults learners have been enrolled in the program while about 2,700 are active members.

He said almost 500 adult learners have graduated in three years. And some of them have revealed to them that, "In the olden days we don't have anyone to take care of us because we were orphans so this made us not to go to school but today they can speak good English".

Some also added that, "The environment in which they find themselves have not allowed them to go to school because traditionally women are not allowed to go to school but now those days where they were victims of mobile money fraud is a thing of the past because now they can read between the lines"

ENA said they are faced with a lot of challenges in the existence of the adult literacy program but they are hoping government would be supportive so that the right to education for all can be achieved.

In 2015, Ghana's adult literacy rate was 76.6% growing at an average annual rate of 15.30% compared to 2000 where the rate was 57.9% and this indicated that, Ghana is on the way to ensure that everyone is educated therefore there's the need for all of us to make constant efforts to ensure that, Non-Formal education continues to exist because literacy is the door to knowledge, essential to individual self-esteem and empowerment and with that we can be able to have a stable economy.

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