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Opinions of Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Columnist: Seshie-Vanderpuije, Alex

NDC raises quality of Education to new heights

Education, education, education, quality education was the mantra of the NDC government when the Party took office in 2009. The NDC government under the able leadership of His Excellency, Prof. John Evans Atta Mills government believes a nation of educated, skilled, well informed and morally sound people could build a just and prosperous society. This in turn would ensure Ghana will be able to compete in the global markets and attract the badly needed foreign investments, resulting in increased job opportunities for our youth, graduates and the unemployed.
The education policy objectives of the NDC government are to improve equitable access and participation in quality education at all levels; improve quality of teaching and learning; bridge the gender gap in access to education for people with disability; promote science and technical education at all levels; and to strengthen links between tertiary education and industry and improve the management of education service delivery.
In the first of four series on the provision of quality education by the NDC government, I will be discussing the educational legacy and challenges inherited by the NDC government in 2008; I will also look at how the NDC government planned and made good NPP 8 years of under investment in education and reversing the damage done to the country's education system.
The Educational Challenges NDC inherited in 2009
When NDC came to power in 2009, the Ghanaian education system had suffered from 8 years of under investment under the NPP. The previous government had always boasted of unprecedented levels of investment in educational infrastructure and high levels of investments. But here as in so many areas, the Ghanaian electorates were let down by the NPP government. We should however, not forget those leaking roofs, growing class sizes, unhappy, underpaid and poorly motivated teachers; and over 5300 schools sitting under trees.
NPP promised a bright future in education but after 8 years, the Ghanaian people were let down by an unpopular government; for whilst we were told the education is tremendously successful, the raw data proved otherwise. The sad truth about our schools under NPP is that far from making opportunity more equal, they only deepened the divide between the rich and the poor, the fortunate and the forgotten.
Making Good the Educational Challenges
Making good 8 years of underinvestment in the country's education and reversing the damage done to the country's education system is always going to take time. In the first instance, the NDC government in 2009 carried consultation with all stake holders in the educational sector. This paved the way for the Education Reforms Bill to be passed into law in October 2010, allowing for fundamental improvements in the education system by reversing the duration of Senior High School from initial four years to three. The government put focus on the early years education in a child life, invested in teachers, built new schools and pursued these with a relentless focus and results.
Investments In School Buildings
Educational Infrastructure is important for a good learning experience. The NDC government in the short period of three years built 611 classrooms and dormitory blocks. The government put in place measures to provide infrastructure facilities in the Senior High

Schools to meet the infrastructure needs resulting from the need to accommodate the fourth year students. Out of the 375 schools earmarked for construction in 2011, 100 have been completed and handed over while the remaining 275 are ongoing.
The Government continued with the rehabilitation and refurbishment of Science Resource Centres in selected senior high schools across the country. Twenty one Science Resource Centres in 7 Regions have been completed and handed over whilst 57 are at various stages of completion.
The Government recently commissioned a 6-Unit Classroom Block each for Accra Academy and the Amasaman Senior High Technical School in October 2010. The project cost the Government of Ghana an amount of GH?227,549.00 each, this project will go a long way to improve on the school infrastructure which, in the long term, will enhance teaching.
In a bid to help improve the low educational standards and to eliminate elements that discredit public schools and label them as unproductive, the Accra Metropolitan Authority abolished the shift system in public schools in the Metropolis on the theme: “Quality Education – a must for all children”. No school within the Metropolis operates the shift system from mid September 2010. Teachers in the Accra Metropolis are required to “set high standards, raise the bar very high and be tough to make sure that every child of school going age is in school at the correct time. The Authority disclosed that 33 emergency school building projects have been undertaken by Government to cater for the 170,000 school children in the Accra Metropolis and that Government is obliged to make up for the shortfall in the provision of these structures when the need arises.
In line with government's effort towards elimination of schools under trees over the medium term, In 2010 the NDC government eliminated 1300 schools under trees with the provision of new 6 classroom blocks. This year another 1266 new schools have been awarded on contract and are at various stages of completion.
Upgrading of Teacher Training Colleges
During last year, a road map for full integration of all colleges of education was pursued. To date, all 38 Teacher Training colleges in the country have been upgraded to Diploma Awarding Institutions and have been classified as tertiary institutions. The curriculum of the colleges of education has been reviewed for quality and to take into account the relevance of tertiary education. In line with NDC government's commitment to improve quality of education at the tertiary level, an office complex has been provided for the tertiary education regulatory bodies to enhance their efficiency and effectiveness. A total amount of GH?36.8million was released by Getfund for construction of lecture theatres, staff accommodation, library blocks, halls of residence, computer laboratories, auditoriums and agricultural engineering workshops which are at various stages of completion.
Polytechnics have been accredited to offer Bachelor of Technology degrees, particularly in Science, Technology and ICT as top up of existing HND programmes. Competency based training has been introduced to improve quality and relevance in polytechnic education. The
polytechnics in collaboration with the National Board of Professional and Technical (NABPTEX) continued to offer bridging programmes to enable students from technical institutes to upgrade themselves in Mathematics, English and Science to enable them to pursue higher level education. Government continue to equip and strengthen the polytechnics to enable them efficiently provide technical and practical oriented programmes in order to meet the needs of industry and the economy at large.



Improvement of Quality of Teaching and Learning for Enhanced Pupil/Student Achievement
The NDC Government laudable determination to reach down into schools and secure children's' well being resulted in taking measures to Improve on the performance indicator of achieving quality learning outcomes in literacy and numeracy through the National Education Assessment (NEA), School Education Assessment (SEA) and the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE); the quality of teaching and learning in our schools will experience continued monitoring and supervision and enhanced provision of Teaching and Learning Materials (TLMs).
The Computerized School Selection and Placement System (CSSPS) will continue to receive adequate resources to deliver improved service as well as teacher development programmes through distance learning and in-service training.
Improving Quality and Efficiency in Delivery of Education (Educational Planning and Management)
One of the NDC greatest achievements in education was the set up of School Management Committees at the basic level and Board of Governors at the second cycle level. These committees will receive continued support to strengthen school governance and community engagement to positively impact on the attainment of quality learning outcomes.
The NDC most radical move was the introduction of compulsory School Management Certificate training programme provided by the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration(GIMPA) for all Heads Teachers and Headmasters of all public schools. This constitute a radical departure from the erroneous assumption that all teachers can easily assume school management roles without appropriate school management training. The Ministry of Education will continue with the training of 8 key personnel in each district in addition to the 488 already trained by GIMPA.
Teacher incentives and motivation
The NDC Government committed itself to implementing teacher incentives and packages and motivation for teachers in order to retain them at their posts. In pursuit of this, teachers were given 15% of their basic salary as professional allowances as part of government's efforts to motivate teachers towards quality education. Measures have also been taken to provide allowances stated in the NDC Manifesto for teachers. Of special concern is the allowances for trained teachers in rural areas and deprived communities as well as technical and vocational education teachers. Government is seeking technical assistance to map out the deprived areas to ensure equity and fairness.
SSSS implementation has been the single largest challenge in the management of the economy. This has increased Government's wage bill from GH?1billion to above GH? billion. Apart from the 15% retention allowances , teachers recently migrated on to the SSSS; those representing themselves as positive role models to both boys and girls would be considered for uplift allowances.
E- School Projects
To promote learning of ICT Government has so far distributed 6000 laptops to schools and by November 2011 would have supplied about 20,000. These are under multiple sector programme such as environment, education and communication. By March 2012

Government would have supplied about 70,000 laptops to students. The unique thing is also that all these laptops are assembled right here in Ghana.
Special Education
In pursuit of Government commitment to improve access to quality education for people with disability, 30 Heads and coordinators of special schools in Transitional Vocational Programme for children with intellectual disabilities for graduation to the world of work were trained. In addition, 20 special educators were also trained in Hearing Aid programme.
NDC Government Commitment to improving Quality of Education
The NDC Government has so far made the fundamental changes required, put focus on building new schools and dormitories and investing in teachers. The government has set the standard for improving the quality of the country’s educational system in the country. The Ministry of Education has committed to spending a third of its Budget on education. These visionary goals set the NDC apart from the other political parties in the country.
The NDC government is developing Education Strategic Plan for the implementation of the Free Compulsory and Universal Basic Education Policy (FCUBE). This will ensure Basic Education will be free for all children of school going age, as guaranteed under the 1992 Constitution of Ghana - National Poverty Reduction Strategies and the Millennium Development Goals. (MDGs).
The NDC government is guided by a passion to raising standards and results so that students can leave school with good qualifications that they can take to the next step.
The NDC government under the able leadership of His Excellency, Prof John Evans Atta Mills do not believe in creating chances for the few lucky children as we saw under the NPP Administration. We believe in driving standards for good quality education irrespective of where students live, their parents’ background or income. NDC cares about the future of our children, our schools, and our society. These are the reasons why the National Democratic Congress makes a difference in our everyday life.
In the next series, I will be looking at the utilisation of social intervention programmes funds for education; policies such as the school feeding programme, provision of free textbooks and free school uniforms, capitation grants, scholarships and SHS and BECE subsidies...............
Please ... stay tuned.............

Alex Seshie-Vanderpuije
Public Relations Officer
NDC UK & Ireland Chapter
28 November 2011