Date: April 6, 2009, 6:39 pm


COALITION CALLS FOR TIMELY INTERVENTIONS TO SAVE BASIC EDUCATION!


The Ghana National Education Campaign Coalition (GNECC) has said that sharper interventions are required if the country is to achieve the education targets of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and in the New Education Reforms as stated in the Government White Paper. In a statement to the press, the coalition said, current levels of policy interventions are inadequate and if no efforts are made to step up quality and effective resource allocation to the education sector among others, even the MDGs targets on education will not be met, let alone the more ambitious goals set in the new education reforms.

Under the MDGs as adopted by the UN, Ghana is to achieve Universal Primary Education (UPE) by 2015. UPE means all children enrolled in class one must necessarily complete class six after a six-year period without dropping out. The New Education Reforms however focuses on Universal Basic Completion (UBC) rate by 2015. This means, instead of achieving only a universal primary education completion, Ghana now has to achieve a universal basic education completion; that is both primary and Junior Secondary school education, by 2015 as per the new reforms. These targets, the Coalition says, are more ambitious and far exceed the standards required under various International Conventions on peoples' rights, including the MDGs to which Ghana has subscribed. To be able to meet these rather ambitious and far-reaching targets however, sharper achievement is required in some of the targets set in the country's Education Strategic Plan of 2003-2015.

The Coalition cites for instance that if Ghana is to achieve Universal Basic Completion rate by 2015, universal primary completion would have to be achieved three years earlier, (2012), to have the desired impact on JSS enrolment, so that the UBC could be attained in 2015. Similarly, a 100% transition rate between primary six (P6) and JSS 1 will now have to be achieved by 2012 instead of 2015 as scheduled in the Education Strategic Plan (ESP, 2003-2015). The gross admission rate for primary, which originally in the ESP was to reach 100% by 2010, would now have to be achieved by 2006/2007. Same goes for the gross enrolment targets. According to the Coalition, the Gross Enrolment Rate (GER) of 107.4% by 2015 under the Universal Primary Education Completion rate will also now have to be achieved by 2012, three years much earlier.

Sharper interventions in all policy areas, i.e. policies on enhancing access such as the FCUBE, Capitation Grant, the abolition of levies such as extra class fees, examination fees, administrative levies and teacher motivation, scholarship programmes, recruitment of teachers through access Courses, Construction and rehabilitation of Basic schools, the school feeding programme, the training of untrained teachers, provision of text books, library facilities, ICT training of students and teachers, etc. would have to be pursued. The Coalition recognizes that all these will come at huge costs. Government would therefore have to timely resolve the current financing gap in terms of its volume, quality, timeliness and appropriateness in the sector.

According to the Coalition, the Needs Assessment for the achievement of universal education and the elimination of gender disparities at all levels of education in the country, commissioned by the Millennium Project, had revealed that the country requires an average expenditure of 4.7% of its GDP on education. However, current expenditures stand at 3.2% of GDP, much lower that what the Millennium Project proposes and far in short of the Sub-Saharan average of 5.5% and the 6.96% that the country proclaimed to meet some forty years back. Notwithstanding the question of volume, the Coalition also wants government to address the problems of poor targeting of resources, financial leakages and mis-prioritization. Estimates indicate that about 42% of resources allocated to the education sector do not reach their target destinations. This, the Coalition says must be addressed immediately.

Every Child Needs a Teacher!
Public Agenda (May 12th 2006)

By any measure there have been some positive developments in the education sector in recent years. It all started with the introduction of the schools feeding project in selected public schools and later extended to the other schools. The aim was to encourage more children to go to school and at least be assured of one meal a day. Reports that have come in from such communities talk more positively about children enrolling in schools because of the meals. Then two years ago, the government introduced the capitation grant, which took care of the all fees at the basic level. Quite expectedly, the capitation grant achieved its purpose of attracting hundreds of thousands of children to school. Statistics indicate that enrolment into basic schools has gone up by a 17% point from 3.7million to a record of 4.3million. Unfortunately, the increase in enrolment has not been matched by an equal increment in the number of trained teachers, leaving a deficit of 17,000 teachers required to fill the gaps across the country.

An intractable problem of inadequate and unfair distribution of trained teachers, deteriorating education infrastructure and poor working conditions among others, has left many public schools in both rural and urban communities without the required number of teachers. Mr. Sam Akoto Danso, a Principal Planning Officer and Special Assistant to the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, who presented this dossier to stakeholders on Tuesday May 9 at this year's Global Action Month, also disclosed that even in schools where teachers are available, the Pupil -Teacher Ratio (PTR) is so high that effective teaching becomes almost impossible.


A classic case is the Zuabulga DA Primary School in the Upper East Region of Ghana, where one teacher now teaches over 214 pupils! According Mr. Danso, a similar situation exists at the Ahomahoma DA Primary School in the Ashanti Region and the Nkronua DA Primary School in the Central Region where one teacher handles 193 and 192 students respectively. At the Kotobabi No.2 DA primary school in the Greater Accra Region one teacher has been tasked with teaching 96 students. These high Pupil -Teacher Ratios are however, against both local and international standards for ensuring quality education delivery. The Ghana Education Strategic Plan (ESP), recommends a PTR of 35 to 1 for primary and 25 to 1 for both pre-school and the Junior Secondary School levels. Internationally, the PTR is an important indicator of how effectively and efficiently quality education is being delivered and is generally accepted as normal if it remains at 40 is to 1. But with Ghana's PTR widening to as high as 214 pupils to a teacher, stakeholders fear the country's already poor educational standards could worsen.

To correct the imbalance, he said candidly that government has to provide incentives, including salary increment of about 10-20 percent and allowances, car loans and accommodation to lure teachers to deprived communities. Mr. Danso said, tribal conflicts and assault on teachers by community members are some of the disincentives for teachers working in the rural areas. It is to help reverse this trend that the Ghana National Education Campaign Coalition (GNECC) and its partners chose the theme: Every Child Needs A Teacher", for this year's global action Month, dubbed; 'A Big Hearing'.

In his welcoming address, Mr. Emmanuel Kuyole, Executive Council Chair of GNECC, said education is not only a human right and an indispensable right for realizing other rights, but also a vehicle for individuals to lift themselves out of poverty and participate fully in their communities. Besides, "it saves lives," and without it, the talk of stopping the HIV/AIDs pandemic, poverty, hunger and reducing both child and maternal mortalities would be in vain. Whilst lauding government on its decision to abolish fees and levies and the success chalked so far in improving increased enrolment and access, he was not happy that the goal of universal coverage and free quality basic education remains a dream to many a children from deprived communities. He said the Global Action Month is to remind stakeholders that in the quest for universal education there cannot be a trade off between access, quality and equity, as "access without quality is meaningless and quality is the essence of equity."

The occasion was chaired by Professor Anamua-Mensah, Vice Chancellor, University of Education Wineba. The Minister for Education, Sports and Science, Mr. Papa Owusu-Ankomah represented Vice President, Aliu Mahama as the guest of honour.



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