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Ghana gets $75.5m funding to improve basic education

Education Minister Betty Mould

The Global Partnership for Education (GPE), an international funding agency, has allocated $75.5 million to Ghana to help improve the quality of basic education.

The amount, representing one of the largest donor supports for the educational sector, will be targeted at deprived districts which recorded abysmal performance in the last Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) with the view to redeeming them from poor academic standards.

In the light of the poor BECE results in 2011 which sent shock waves across the nation, the Ministry of Education responded with the drawing up of elaborate intervention measures to salvage the situation.

With the causes of failure well identified and solutions aptly outlined, the Minister of Education, Mrs Betty Mould-Iddrisu, was able to convince the World Bank, at a meeting in Washington recently, to reverse its decision to disengage from basic education in Ghana.

Consequently, the World Bank agreed to particularly play the role of a supervising entity to enable Ghana to apply to the GPE for funds to implement programmes that would enhance access to and quality of basic education.

Announcing the package at a news conference in Accra yesterday, an excited Deputy Minister of Education, Mr Mahama Ayariga, said, “We are on track in our efforts to improve the quality of basic education in Ghana.”

The Ministry of Education intends to disburse the GPE funds in two forms — the Deprived Districts Grant and the Schools Grant Scheme.

The Deprived Districts Grant is purposed to increase access to education and improve learning outcomes, while the School Grant Scheme is aimed at allowing beneficiary schools to apply the funds to critical areas they believe can enhance quality learning.

Currently, the Ministry of Education has identified 61 districts as deprived in terms of academic performance, but the number is likely to increase after the application of new and broader criteria for the determination of such deprived districts.

Mr Ayariga said the district level initiatives would focus on measures to improve the qualification of teachers, quality of inputs, better materials and pedagogical approaches to increase literacy and numeracy from early grades.

He said the objective of the School Grant Scheme was to complement the existing Capitation Grant initially to schools in the identified deprived districts, with an explicit focus on improving access to and quality of education services based on priority needs defined at the school level.

Mr Ayariga said school managers did not need to call the Ghana Education Service (GES) headquarters in Accra or their district heads before applying the money to their needs.

Another component of the fund will be to finance the upgrading of at least 8,000 trained teachers, 75 per cent of whom will be allocated to the deprived districts.

Furthermore, the fund will be used to enhance supervision of education services in order to improve school monitoring, accountability and transparency to ultimately improve learning outcomes.

As part of the short-term measures to address poor academic performance in basic schools, the sector minister set up a task force, led by Mr Ayariga, and its tour of the regions revealed that particularly weak results in learning outcomes manifested in the poor performance in the BECE.

The task force, therefore, recommended, among other interventions, the need to extend teaching and learning hours for final-year JHS students, acquire and supply teaching and learning materials to the affected schools, ensure greater supervision by district directorates, undertake community sensitisation programmes, encourage greater engagement of district assemblies, traditional rulers and parents and ensure better preparation of candidates for the BECE in 2012.

In the long term, the ministry is seeking to improve teacher quality through professional development programmes and enhanced supervision, increase access of schools and school managers to requisite resources to enable them to exercise greater control of the school environment and implement the kind of measures that will impact greatly on quality learning and increase access of districts to resources that will enable them to determine measures that will impact positively on performance.

Source: Daily Graphic

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