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General News of Wednesday, 20 April 2005

Source: Graphic

Govt To Handover Missions Schools

THE government has decided to hand over mission schools back to their owners.

The Minister of Education and Sports, Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, made this known when he addressed a People?s Forum at Kyebi yesterday.

He said as a first step, he would meet the heads of the concerned religious organisations within two weeks to discuss the issue.

The education minister, who did not specify the actual date for the handover, indicated that the Inspectorate Division of the Ghana Education Service (GES) would be placed directly under the ministry for effective supervision.

He said the new educational reform programme would start next academic year with the training colleges going to produce teachers equipped with the latest skills, such as the use of computers to enable them to face the challenges of information technology.
On study leave for teachers, he said since 8,000 teachers were turned out annually and 16,000 applied for study leave, the ministry could approve only 3,000 so that the classrooms did not become empty.
Mr Osafo-Maafo said the problem had arisen because most teachers did not teach for five years after graduating from the training colleges before applying for study leave, adding that only Science and Mathematics teachers, as well as those in deprived areas, would be given priority.
He also stated that the ministry would support teachers to benefit from the distance learning programme currently in place.
Some of the teachers, who spoke at the gathering, were not happy about the way they had been treated with regard to study leave.
The decision to hand over the mission schools to the owners has been hailed by some religious organisations, reports Edmund Kofi Yeboah.
The Synod Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, Rev Dr Charles Gyan-Duah, described the decision as a good idea.
He said the schools would not be totally handed over to the missions, explaining that they would be handled jointly by the missions and the government. Rev Dr Gyan-Duah said the missions were ready to assist the government to raise the standard of education in the country.
He said the details of the handover had not been worked out, adding that the missions and the government would commit themselves to a memorandum of understanding soon to specify their roles and responsibilities.
Rev Dr Gyan-Duah expressed the conviction that handing over the mission schools to the owners would enhance discipline among students, but he pointed out that the church alone could not enforce discipline and called for the support of other partners.
The Parish Priest of St Bartholomew Anglican Church at Teshie in Accra, Rev Canon Solomon Mensah-Commey, described the decision as laudable and expressed the hope that it would help restore discipline to schools.
He said children were the future leaders, so if they were not brought up properly the future of the country would be bleak.
Rev Canon Mensah-Commey admitted that initially, the missions would face financial challenges but indicated that they would be able to overcome those challenges subsequently.
The Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) has been against the handover of the mission schools to the owners because the association was not happy about their service conditions, financial capacity and other resources needed to promote teaching and learning.
The General Secretary of GNAT, Mrs Irene Duncan Adanusah, said the association still stood by its position on the issue.
She wanted to know whether those inadequacies had been addressed for the government to decide to hand over the mission schools to the religious organisations.
Mrs Adanusah raised a number of issues, such as who would be responsible for putting up school buildings, providing furniture, arranging the fee structure, paying salaries of teachers and addressing the service conditions of teachers.
She said when those issues were clarified the association would be better informed to comment on the government?s decision to hand over the mission schools to the owners.