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Opinions of Thursday, 17 March 2016

Columnist: Amoah, Anthony Kwaku

WASSCE awards: Ghana conquers again!

Every nation aspires to provide education with the needed strength and stamina to confront ignorance, unemployment and poverty. Good quality education delivery promotes peace, unity and wealth among people. Ghana’s Shared Growth and Development Agenda (2014) identify the need for people to acquire knowledge and skills in solving problems, which is essential to national development efforts.

In its paper, Defining Quality in Education, the United Nations Children’s Fund (2000) identifies the learner, learning environment, content, processes and learning outcomes as the determinants of any education that aim at “the rights of the whole child and all children to survival, protection, development and participation”. The Education for All Global Monitoring Report of UNESCO (2005) analyses quality education using the learner characteristics, enabling inputs and learning outcomes, while Professor Francis Amedahe (2014) uses parental support, class size, supervision and management, teacher characteristics and professional development, and instructional inputs, as well as time on task for his argument. The Ministry of Education (2016) on Quality of education: what has improved over the past decade 2005-2015 states, “Over the years, the quality of delivery of the Ghanaian education system has been assessed through the observation and analysis of certain key quality indicators like the pupil-teacher ratio, pupil-core textbook ratio, percentage of trained teachers and time on task.”

Whichever way one would want to look at it, the fact still holds that quality education arises from the support services received from sources, such as the parent, teacher, school environment, learner and the system itself in relation to national and global demands. Pigozzi (2004) could not also have put it any better when she reiterated the need for education to be made relevant to the society in which the learner lives for it to be tagged as being effective. Professor Jophus Anamuah-Mensah in 2009, at the launch of a book titled, Teaching and Education for Teaching in Developing Countries: Essays in Honour of Prof. Jophus Anamuah-Mensah, also called for effective stakeholder support in designing policies and programmes that would meet global demand.

This write-up gives a highlight of the extent to which our pre-tertiary education has performed so far. EdQual (2010) states quality pre-tertiary education develops in the young individual the knowledge, skills and attitude that are needed for laying the foundations for further education and sustainable livelihood. Though faced with some challenges, Ghana’s system of education can still be said to be potent among the comity of nations. We are a strong model and reference to nations. This is evidence by the number of study visits from delegations from other African countries. My Malian mate at Ghana Institute of Journalism, Ramata, once told me, “Ghana is a strong reference for education; we respect you a lot and that’s why I’m here to do this course.”

Interventions, over the years, have contributed to improvement in education service delivery. Statistics at the Ghana Education Service (GES) indicates that the pupil-to-teacher ratio moved from 30 pupils per teacher to 34 pupils per teacher from 2000 to 2012 as against 42 pupils per teacher in sub-Saharan Africa within the same period. It has also emerged that the number of trained basic school teachers has risen from an average of 44.7% in 2001/2002 academic year to 75.1% by 2013/2014 academic year. This shows interventions have been put in place to achieve the target of a trained teacher population of 95% stated in the Education Strategic Plan (2010-2020).

In its bid to enhance accountability in schools, improve teacher presence and time on task, the GES embarks on quarterly visits to and monitoring of schools and institutions with collaboration from the National Inspectorate Board of the Ministry of Education. According to Ministry of Education (2016), the effect of proper supervision and monitoring is drastic reduction in teacher absenteeism by 11%.

The provision of teaching and learning inputs supports the learning process. In this vein, the Ministry of Education distributed a total of 12.5 million textbooks to public basic schools resulting in the improvement of the pupil-to-core textbook ratio from 1:1.1 in 2008/2009 to 1:2.8 in 2013/2014, records indicate.

Available data from the Education Management Information System of the Ministry of Education has revealed a huge support from the Ghana Partnership for Education Grant and the GES to train 6,865 untrained teachers in under-served districts for them to become professional teachers under the Untrained Teacher Diploma in Basic Education programme. The module is also targeted at enhancing the number and quality of teachers that are needed to provide early childhood care and education.

Hard work, they say, pays. We would not have reached this far as a nation if we had relaxed and slept off on the job in the offices and schools. Ghana takes part in West African Examinations Council’s (WAEC’s) senior high school examinations with Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Gambia. And we have, for the past four consecutive years, claimed all of WAEC’s top international academic excellence awards in the senior high school category, hurray! It all started when Asafo-Adjei, Priscilla and pals, Tsorgali, Josephine and Nyarko, David Kofi took the first, second and third positions respectively in 2008 to beat their Nigerian, Liberian, Sierra Leonean and the Gambian counterparts. In 2009, Adu-Poku, Frank and Ofori, Maame Afua Otua and Karim, Fathia scored first and second. The year, 2010 did not witness any external examinations. That year we allowed our neighbours to have a taste of the awards.

However, in 2012, Yvette Yeboah-Kordieh, Josebert Abaasa Ayambire and Bright Seyram Tsevi did not hesitate but claimed all three awards. Ivy Ama Mannoh, Mwinmaarong Lucio Dery, and Hasan Mickail, Kenyah Blaykyi and Archibald Enninful lifted all three awards for first, second and third positions in each of the respective year groups of, 2013 and 2014. These feats are same as what were recorded by Master Parker Bessant Allen and friends in 1992, Agbadzi Anthony Kweku and peers in 1993 as well as Dodoo Nii Lartey and others in 1994.

President John Mahama, represented by his vice at WAEC’s Excellence Awards, awarded some 20 candidates who distinguished themselves in the 2015 edition of the Basic Education Certificate Examinations on the eve of the nation’s 59th Independence Day celebration. It is gratifying to note that 13 of the awardees came from the public schools, a development which goes to confirm that public school education is not doing badly at all.

The applause is not over yet. The 64th Annual Council Meeting of WAEC has just ended. It happened at the International Conference Centre in Accra and the president was there. Jessica Ayeley Quaye, Ruth Ewura-Ama Awudzi and Danielle Amo-Mensah, all of Wesley Girls’ High School in Cape Coast, swept all the awards for last year. The event was, indeed, a feminine-victory rally! Teachers, students and Old Girls of Wesley Girls’ High School, including Education Minister Prof. Naana Opoku-Agyemang, sang their school anthem and cheered their awardee sisters. The Minister said that Ghana has a good educational system and that the quality of education remains strong though more stakeholder support is needed to make it stronger, adding, “Whatever the issue may be, education provides the answer.” She advised students to eschew malpractices and study hard.

Dr. Evelyn Kandakai, the chairperson of WAEC Council, chaired the occasion and delegates from the Gambia, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone also attended the programme.

Let’s continue to work together on our education for the socio-economic development of our nation!

The writer is an educationist and a public relations officer at the Headquarters of the Ghana Education Service.