Date: April 6, 2009, 6:36 pm


FEE-FREE BASIC EDUCATION CAMPAIGN GHANA NATIONAL EDUCATION CAMPAIGN COALITION (GNECC) GLOBAL WEEK OF ACTION 24 - 30 APRIL, 2005


The Ghana National Education Campaign Coalition (GNECC) is a coalition of about 43 NGOs and Civil Society groups deeply concerned with the falling standards of Education in Ghana, especially the diminishing access of Ghanaian children to good quality and enjoyable basic education. The coalition, joined forces with over 250 countries all over the world to celebrate this year's Global Week of Action on Education led by the Global Campaign for Education (GCE) from the 24th - 30th April 2005, on the theme "Educate to End Poverty".

Launch
Ghana is one of the 75 countries that have missed the goal of achieving the Universal Completion of Primary Education by 2015 required by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which states that by 2005, there should be an equal number of girls in classrooms as there are boys. The gender parity stands at 0.88 and is greater in poverty ridden regions. This was stated at the launch of the week in Ghana on Thursday 21st April at the Mamprobi Girls' School by Mrs. Juliana Adu-Gyamfi, Chair of the Interim Management Committee of GNECC, in her welcome address. This year's celebration is the fourth in the series since its inception in 2000 at the World Council on Education. Statistics show that 18% of school-going children in Ghana are out of school and yet education remains a constitutional right for every child. In a study in some poor communities in parts of Northern Ghana, it was found that almost 40-50% of school going children were out of school. According to a report by the Global Campaign on Education (GCE), rich countries could ensure that every child in the world gets a decent primary education, but current aid to education is less than a quarter of what is needed. Lack of funds means that the girls' education goal will not be achieved this year, denying millions of girls and women their best chance of escaping the cycle of poverty and ill health. Activities lined up for the Ghana Week included:

1.
Launch of Global Week of Action (Monday April 21st 2005)
2. Service to Commemorate the Week throughout the regions in Ghana (Friday, 22nd April and Sunday 24th April 2005)
3. "Politicians go back to school" - the President and his ministers visiting their former primary schools to inspect its state of affairs. (Monday 25th April 2005)
4. March to Parliament "Send my friend to school" petitions to the President (Thursday 23rd June 2005)

The target group for the Ghana campaign were street children, working children, disabled children, children in deprived communities, girls and adult illiterates. Specifically the weeklong celebration sought to:

  • Raise issues mitigating against the achievement of the free and quality universal primary education witb key decision makers. Generate political commitment from policy makers.
  • Set an agenda for the media, on issues concerning education Develop a national partnership for achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equity in education, improving the quality of education and ultimately eradicating extreme poverty and hunger.
  • Create the opportunity for at least a hundred more out of school children to be enrolled in school.

Ms. Elizabeth Ohene, Minister for Tertiary Education launching the week in her keynote address revealed that the current budget allocation to the sector was ¢7trillion however pre-tertiary education alone needed ¢10trillion annually for the necessary reforms to be made.

Religious Services
A church service was held by the Christian Council of Ghana at the AME Zion Methodist Church at Mamprobi a suburb in Accra, to commemorate the weeklong activities. The Moslem Community also supported the call to preach on the need to educate to end poverty.

Politicians go back to School
The Politicians go back to school activity was held throughout all the 10 regions of Ghana. A number of Parliamentarians, District Chief Executives, Chiefs, Assemblymen, and Ministers visited their basic schools to ascertain for themselves the state of the schools and make commitments to improve them. After a look at the dilapidated school buildings, broken down infrastructure and facilities, the sheer frustration of head teachers and the ever dwindling number of children in schools, they were moved to make commitments to institute scholarship schemes to send more children to school, build libraries and classrooms to enhance and ensure good and enjoyable basic education for children in their communities.

Route March
The climax of the week was a route march to Parliament to present a petition to the President titled "Send my Friend to School, Mr. President". Thousands of school children gathered for the walk with cut out images of their friends who were out of school with placards carrying their messages some of which read, "Educate Theresa Abbey to Fight HIV/AIDS"; "Send My Sister Doris to school to stop Child Labour"; and "Educate My brother Kweku Brewu to Empower Him". Some of the images also appealed to parents to stop child labour and abuse - "Parents, don't send your children to the farm during school hours".The walk begun from the Osu Presbyterian Secondary School Park and ended at the Independence Square in Accra. The children presented their petition to Parliament, the Ministry of Education, the Ghana Commission on Children and the Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs. The petition recognised that inspite of the immense achievement made in the early years of independence, access to quality basic education was still one of the greatest challenges facing Ghana today. Inadequate funding, general economic hardship, low expectations of parents and teachers, and the shortage of well trained teachers had been identified to be among the major obstacles to sustained and equitable access to quality basic education.

The petition further stated that current enrolment in basic education (primary and junior secondary school) stood at 58% for boys and 43% for girls. Of the nearly 45% of children of school going age that were not in school, most had been forced to fend for them1selves at a very tender age or had been sold into slavery and child labourers. Out of the total number of children who get enrolled into basic schools, only 39% of boys and 22% of girls managed to complete nine years of formal education.

The children petitioned the President through Parliament to investigate the state of children and adults missing out on education for appropriate modifications to be made and called for the abolition of school fees and levies to enable more children go to school whiles appealing for an adult learning centre in every village.

The coalition proposed that the FCUBE be made truly free and called for a policy to guide the implementation of Early Childhood Education. They called for immediate action on the provision of good infrastructure and teaching and learning facilities with emphasis on child-centred methods of teaching and motivation for teachers especially those in rural and low-income areas. They also called on the primary stakeholders in education: Government, Donors, and Parents and Guardians to:

1) Government
a) intensify its own efforts to achieve gender parity 2015.
b) make education absolutely free as stated in the constitution and abolish all barriers to education.
c) define the structure of the capitation grant and mechanisms put in place to ensure accountability of the fast track initiative.
d) To ensure the availability of qualified, well-resourced and motivated teachers to improve the quality of teaching and learning.

2) Donors
a) Heed the call of the UN Secretary General to increase funds to the education sector to support the recruitment and training of more teachers.
b) Streamline aid and end harmful conditionalities
c) Provide additional support to Non-formal and adult education to reduce illiteracy by 50% as agreed by the MDGs

3) Parents and Guardians
a) Send and keep their children and wards in school to reduce incidence of teenage pregnancies.
b) Support the abolishment of all cultural beliefs and practices

View pictures from the celebrations

The following organisations co-sponsored and supported the programme:

· Action Aid International (Ghana)
· OXFAM - Ghana
· Christian Council of Ghana
· Commonwealth Education Fund
· Nestlé Ghana
· Plan International
· UNESCO



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