Education Ministry’s focus on higher education alone is dangerous – CODE
It noted that this was due to the growing trend of the Ministry of Education’s focus on higher levels of education.
The CODE said since the implementation of the Free Senior High School (FSHS) Policy, the government had skewed the provision of material and financial support to the SHS to the neglect of the lower levels of education, which were equally desperately in need.
It described the situation at hand as unfair and disastrous to progressive education and development of the country.
The CODE opined that quality secondary education could only emerge from high standards at the basic levels and, therefore, the FSHS would be meaningless if the foundation was weak.
Madam Bernice Ofori, the National President of CODE, expressed the sentiments in an address at the 30th Annual Conference of CODE held in Wa.
The Conference was on the theme: “Resourcing of Basic Education in Ghana for quality education delivery,” aimed to create the platform to reflect on the previous year’s performance and deliberate on quality pre-tertiary education delivery in the country, to inform policy makers and to suggest ways to improve on performance and outcomes.
She said, “First cycle schools in our opinion, have become disproportionately disadvantaged in terms of resources allocation and there is the need for a deliberate innovative policy to financially resource the basic first cycle education now to help guarantee high standards at the SHS and the tertiary levels.”
“We need to build a sound foundation of learners if we want to achieve good educational outcomes. At present, there is a serious deficit in Kindergarten (KG) infrastructure, as several KGs need proper classroom structures, appropriate classroom furniture and other important facilities,” she said.
Madam Ofori said the inadequacies of infrastructure, especially classroom accommodation, furniture, learning tools and textbooks, were affecting teaching and learning and thereby depriving the children of a quality form of education and right learning environment to develop the foundational skills to progress at the primary level.
She reminded the authorities that teachers in deprived communities were still awaiting the 20 per cent incentive package promised them in their working condition service.
She expressed the hope that if that was implemented it would help encourage qualified teachers to readily accept posting to rural schools.
She pleaded with educational authorities to mandate district directors to recruit teachers from various local areas and post them to schools within the communities to stay and teach.
Besides the recruitment of teachers, due consideration must also be given to the replacement of some critical staff such as drivers, security, cleaners and labourers who had gone on retirement; as the vacancies were becoming too many in the system, she said.
Madam Ofori there was inadequate financial support for the running of education offices and the maintenance of official vehicles, while the Government of Ghana (GOG) and Capitation Grants meant for schools were not regular, making it difficult for the directors to effectively manage the directorate and the monitoring of schools.
She said with these, Headmasters found it challenging to address urgent and serious situations in their schools.
Madam Ofori appealed to the government to think of providing one hot meal to all basic school children, including those at KG, Primary and Junior High Schools either day or boarding status to help avoid the situation where students of boarding status were fed three times while day students had no meal at all.
She also urged the Ministry of Finance to either uncap the GETFund to make funds available to complete all the classroom blocks it started but abandoned to help address the overcrowding situation at the basic school level.
She expressed worry over the long and unexplained break in the distribution of the laptops, and now the “bits and pieces” distribution, saying: “This is causing uneasy tension among teachers in the primary schools and education officers.”
She said teachers who had not yet received theirs for almost three years now were getting worried and called on the authorities to speed up the distribution of the laptops to help promote teaching and learning in schools.
Dr Hafiz Bin Salih, the Upper Regional Minister, noted that Basic Education was the foundation upon which all other levels of education were built on.
He said Basic Education was the bedrock of national development and its quality must not be compromised, saying, “to provide quality basic education is an investment in the future progress and development of Ghana.”
“It is to empower our children with knowledge, skills and values they need to thrive in an ever-changing world,” he explained.
Dr Salih said Ghana’s quest to provide quality education, the issue of resourcing was paramount, and it encompassed financial resources and the allocation of human capital Infrastructure and learning materials and said the theme of the conference was a wakeup call for wisely and equitably investment in the Basic Education to ensure no child was left behind.