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Opinions of Saturday, 9 May 2015

Columnist: Ali, Prince Justice

Sissala West District Education Service is in serious crisis

Contributing to building a society of fairness and equal opportunity, I draw the nation's attention to the gross negligence of duty by the Sissala West District Director of Education Mr Kwesi Akaba Braima and how it will indubitably contribute to dreadful or abysmal performance of pupils in the Sissala West District especially at BECE 2015.
Undoubtedly, education is the greatest and most effective panacea to human civilization. Even in the first-world countries, everything possible is done to educate every child properly. For example, John Dewey, a former American philosopher and educational reformer, underscored that “education is not preparation for life; education is life itself”.
Narrowing the argument back to Sissala West, I look at the performance of the district in BECE during the last six sittings. In 2009, only 41.59 % of the candidates passed. The keyword is pass! In 2010, this percentage dropped radically to 18.90 %. It was at this point that common sense suggested that series of management meetings would have been held with stakeholders in the district and/or region to digest, to evaluate and to refocus attention and available resources towards preventing these needless and avoidable academic fallouts. But what happened?
In 2011, something seemingly miraculous happened and the percentage pass ‘increased’ to 28.40 %. Hmm! Call it an improvement. Since then, Sissala West District officially and somehow proudly assumed a below 20-percent pass rate in BECE: In 2012, 19 % passed, in 2013, 15.8 % passed and 2014, only 18 % passed. Objectionable, the only LOGICAL response. Shockingly, not all those who even ‘passed’ got placement into senior high schools (SHS).
From the above statistics, one expected the Upper West Regional Education Directorate to have invoked disciplinary measures against those who are deliberately terminating pupils’ education at JHS level. After all, no educational or political authority has ever appointed anybody to be the DIRECTOR OF FAILURES, the new title ostensibly and deservedly earned by the successive directors of Sissala West District. But how different are the results from the other districts in the Region at large?
In October last year, the Regional Co-ordinating Council organized a stakeholders’ meeting at Wa. The meeting deliberated on how pupils in the Upper West Region are now performing poorly at BECE. Expectedly, Sissala West was ranked as one of the poorest performing districts.
Albeit inheriting these failures and massive academic fallouts, Mr KA Braimah was expected to be swift-acting. Contrastingly, the director is all only himself. The educational pundits who spoke to me on condition of anonymity said on assuming post in September, 2014, Mr KA Braima has never held any meeting with the office staff neither has he undertaken a familiarization visit to the schools and circuit centres to meet heads of school and other stakeholders of education. Not all, he has stopped giving fuel to the supervisory unit to monitor schools since January 2015. Compounding matters, this director and his accountant are routinely absent from office, and the vacancy left behind is always retarding office work.
Furthermore, it has been alleged that, issues concerning workers’ salaries have reduced to personal level because the district lacks a substantive IPPD officer. In consequence, all those teachers who were promoted far back in 2013 have never had their salary adjustment or arrears. You mean salary adjustment! Even their promotion documents are yet to be processed. The 2014 Batch of promoted teachers dare not dream of any salary arrears in the next few years to come as far as Mr KA Braima remains as he characteristically is.
Allegedly, the District Director has inhumane working relationship with almost all his subordinates except the accountant. Here, you need to understand why he must be in good terms with only the accountant. This district is a beneficiary of Ghana Partnership of Education Grant (GPEG); one then wonders the direction taken by funds meant for monitoring/supervision.
The effect of ineffective supervision in schools is that teachers at post are doing whatever they want. Headmasters who spoke to me on condition of anonymity said they have compiled series of academic problems especially those of teacher absenteeism and low work output but no circuit supervisors visit their schools to hear and act on such information. Sadly, most teachers have reduced the weekends to Wednesday and are often seen in droves loitering in the district capital, Gwollu/Tumu in the glaring eyes of the director himself. Evidence that Sissala West will likely clock another below-20-percent pass in BECE 2015; hence, Sissala West District Education Service is really in serious crises.
What does the writer intend to achieve from this piece? To inform the appropriate authorities of the negligence of duty by Mr Braima, a situation that might likely result in the worse ever performance at BECE in Ghana. BECE is just a month away: only rapid-response and action-laded strategies can effect a change. We want the change. This write-up excludes the one million alleged irresponsible behaviours of the director. Our belief is that the appropriate SLEEPING authorities who are to monitor the director are fully aware of the rest. Any group (perhaps from the Ministry of Education, Regional Office etc) mandated to investigate this situation can consult them.
What the writer expects is that the director should be brought to focus.

The author Mr. Prince Justice Ali is a Sentimental advocate for development and positive change.
Cell: 0204803328