Professor Stephen Adei, former Rector of Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA ), has said the double track system is very important and there is the need for every child to remain in school.
He said every Ghanaian child must at least be educated to about age 17 or 18 before proceeding on a future course.
Professor Adei was speaking at the first Convocation Lecture of the Takoradi Technical University held under the theme: “Enhancing the Development of Ghana through TVET, the Role of Technical University”.
“Free SHS” is here to stay and should not be an issue for debate. The issues to be discussed should rather be how to increase facilities and improving quality. That will require building more small sized community SHS with facilities to accommodate teachers and laboratories.
Professor Adei said Ghana has experimented free education in the three northern regions for six decades and the outcome had been positive with virtually all the educated older northerners benefiting from free education.
“My elder brother had to go to Tamasco because we could not afford secondary education as peasant farmers which denied all the next three Adeis secondary education…All the arguments against free SHS and the double track system are without merit”, he said.
Professor Adei said “some say, let’s wait till more buildings are put up. Turn it around and they mean let other people’s offspring not go to school till you have space for them adding the double track system is the answer to the infrastructure constraint an interim.
“I even have heard that free SHS now and the need for the double track will dilute the quality of SHS. Turn that around and it means let my children go to Wey Gey Hey and Mfantsipim to become lawyers, doctors, engineers, politicians and leave the masses as semi-literates to serve them”.
“If you let them join my kids the quality will be lower than what I am used to. If it will be diluted let it be so for all. At least it will put pressure on the elite politicians to improve general education. And if they opt out for expensive private schools at least they pay for it and leave room for others.”
Professor Adei said the fact that quality should be addressed was undeniable but not at the expense of access for others adding, I think that properly implemented, the double track system would address both access and quality.
He said the double track would reduce class sizes, improve teacher-student ratio and contact hours.
Professor Adei expressed the belief that that quality of education at all levels hinges on teacher commitment, supervision and management and not because there were two tracks.
He said students finishing the first track could engage themselves in skills acquisition on their long vacation as apprenticeship and vocational training was also key to personal and financial empowerment.
Professor Adei said Ghana needed to improve on the quality of basic and SHS education through decentralization of management, empowering Heads and Boards to supervise the schools including hiring and firing of poor performing teachers in addition to the provision of adequate teaching and learning materials, as well as adopting ICT mediation in educating kids.
“Universal quality general education that assures competencies in language of instruction and mathematics preferably to the SHS level is the tonic of national and quality TVET that enhances the development of every economy.
Students have to acquire the overall and quantitative competencies to benefit from professional, technical and vocational education”.
Professor Adei said countries such as Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Netherlands where TVET is central to their educational structure, the provision of technical and vocational education comes after the young folks have gone through basic literacy and achieved a higher standard of mathematics usually till age 16.
“Some also say we do not have the resources to educate everyone! A cynical answer would have been let other kids go to school while yours await the improvement of national coffers. My serious answer is that I think if there is one thing that deserves prior funding it is education for individual, family and national development.
In any case the amount of money stolen by politicians and bureaucrats, estimates at least $3billion per annum by the World Bank and Imani would more than fund quality education. “I do, however, think that the rich could have been made to pay for their kids’ education through creative ways as it is difficult to means test incomes except for the few formal employees in Ghana.
One way to get the rich to pay is to designate some schools and places as fee paying schools up to 50% of the places. So those who want their kids to go to some grade A schools would pay for that while reserving half places for the poor and use the fees to upgrade the other schools.”
Professor Adei said investment in TVET is crucial and ”we must get our acts together do better with TVET rather than continuing to expand places to produce so called Marketing, HRM, Psychology, History, Political Science etc. graduates to join the unemployed queue”.