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General News of Thursday, 14 January 1999

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Sessional address : Education

Accra (Greater Accra), 14 Jan. '99 -

The educational reform programme which started 10 years ago will be reviewed to raise the quality of education, President Jerry Rawlings said in a sessional address to Parliament today.

President Rawlings said although there has been significant advancement, "we hope through a dispassionate review, embracing all interested parties, to address the difficulties encountered along the way and together fashion out strategies to raise the quality of education."

He identified some of the successes as increased enrolment in school, citing primary school enrolment which has risen from 1.6 million in 1987/88 to 2.3 million in 1997/98.''

The President said ''the proportion of school-going age population in primary school also increased from 69.2 per cent to 76.5 per cent over the same period.''

He said 339 junior secondary schools have been established over the period in addition to the former middle schools which have been upgraded to a total of 5,599.

''Graduates from senior secondary schools have increased from 20,153 during the same period to 57,708 or 33.2 per cent up''.

He said two more polytechnics are to be built in the Upper East and Upper West regions this year bringing the number to eight.

University enrolment increased from 8,342 in 1987/88 to 25,280 in 1997/98 -- a 203 per cent jump while the number of universities have increased from three to five.

The President admitted that though there was a lot of improvement in the tertiary institutions, leading to the intake increases, ''we must admit that there is still a lot to be done as these institutions are able to admit only 40 per cent qualified applicants''.

President Rawlings said the FCUBE programme is on course and that all preliminary work were completed last year and bids were being evaluated for contracts to be awarded to provide teacher accommodation, new classrooms, KVIPs and the rehabilitation of existing classrooms.

A programme to strengthen and decentralise resource planning and allocation which began in 30 districts last year will be extended to 40 more districts.

''Work on improved syllabuses and revised basic textbooks is at an advanced stage and the orientation and in-service training of teachers to manage new programmes would continue.''

He said the Ministry of Education has been tasked to establish an educational trust fund this year into which companies and other stake- holders would contribute as other sources of funding education.

The President commended religious groups for their continuous support to government's efforts in increasing opportunities for tertiary education and their ability in maintaining standards.

He announced that the second phase of the Adult Literacy and Functional Skills project would begin this year with an expected 200,000 learners each year for the next five years.