Ghana’s education still suffer challenges

| January 17, 2013 | 0 Comments

Education, the means of acquiring moral values, norms and means of knowledge, probably started with humans since their biological make up demands that they have to learn to interact with each other.

Formal means of knowledge acquisition with time dominated informal socialization or education and such development was experienced in every stage of any nation and Ghana as a state had its part of historical antecedent.

Archival records indicate that formal education started in Ghana in the early 1800s from Cape Coast in the Central Region and later spread to other coastal areas in the tropics but finally reached the northern territories about hundred years later.

Historical antecedents have in one way or the other denied the northern part of the country earlier education unlike the other half of the country due to their proximity to the colonial masters. This has created a development gap and successive governments had made little impact in terms of correcting the imbalance.

The colonial administration, according to a renowned sociologist Mr Kwaku Nukunya, in educating West Africans it was not planned to equip them but rather a way by the colonial master to obtain clerical staff to administer effectively its system of governance.

It was to ensure that indirect rule and the native courts set up by the British was effectively operated through the locals. Education was therefore not modeled to equip them skillfully to take opportunities of the existing challenges and turn them into opportunities. But whatever the plan was, the educated West Africans mobilized forces as a result of enlightenment and revolted against colonial rule.

A systematic analysis of the Ghanaian educational system and its reforms would reveal that much had not changed from the system of education that was introduced by the colonial masters and what exists today.

This is because the numerous educational reforms that tried to introduce innovations and skill acquisition in the formal educational system had failed to materialize as different governments try to introduce its own system.

The Convention People’s Party (CPP) government of the late President Osagyefuo Dr Kwame Nkrumah was the first to make a positive impact. It introduced several reforms including the free, compulsory basic education and the northern scholarship schemes to ensure that more Ghanaians were educated enough to contribute to the Africanization dream. Many Ghanaians equally gained scholarships to pursue professional courses abroad.

There was little done by the PP, SMC I and II and PNP but significant changes were made by the PNDC/NDC with the introduction of Junior Secondary and Senior Secondary systems which phased out the Advance and Ordinary certificate systems.

Not too long, the NPP which came to power in 2000, subsequently made some reforms that changed secondary education from three years to four years but shortly after the NDC returned to power in 2008, it reversed the system to the initial three years.

This showed that most of the reforms that were introduced had suffered political patronage rendering them ineffective. The education policy reforms and their distortions had in most occasions left the learners more confused than convinced creating huge disparity in rural Ghana and aggravating the woes and opportunities of the rural folks.

Recently, the Ghana News Agency reported a troubling phenomenon in the Bunkpurugu/Yunyoo District where the roofs of 32 school buildings in the area were ripped off by rainstorm.

The District Assembly, National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) and the Ghana Education Service could not help the re-roofing of the schools forcing pupils to sit in those classrooms daily for academic work.

Mr. Duut Saaganma, the Headteacher of the DA JHS, said classes were closed when the rains threatened to fall and also when the sun got too hot. This could not have happened in urban areas.

Also, most of the schools in the area are overpopulated and in the Salimbouku JHS, Mr. Gariba Bello, Headmaster of the school, said even though the school came out as one of the best schools in the area the classroom population had an average of 120 students per class.

One of the classrooms even had 134 pupils creating overcrowding and making teaching quite difficult and stressful for a single teacher. This is about quadruple the average pupil teacher ratio in Ghana which is supposed to be 35 pupils per class.

He also complained that since the inception of the JHS system in 2007, “We have never seen a textbook on Religious and Moral Education yet students are made to write it at their final exams.”

Besides this challenging situation, mathematics, science and English textbooks have been in short supply in schools in that district.

The West Mamprusi District recently revealed shocking phenomena that more than 113 classrooms in the district were without teachers at the primary level. Mr. Charles .B. Midzira, Assistant Director of Finance and Administration of the Ghana Education Service (GES), told the GNA that 83 kindergartens were also without teachers.

He said at the kindergarten level pupil:teacher ratio stands at 101:1 while at the primary level the district has a ratio is 44:1 which seems to meet the national average.

Mr Midzira said: “When we consider the ratio with the trained teachers as against the total enrolment, the district has 90:1”. He said West Mamprusi District had 100 kindergartens, 120 primary schools and 65 Junior High Schools and at each level the teacher-pupil ratio was not the best and called for efforts of all Ghanaians particularly teachers to strive hard in whatever situation they found themselves for excellence.

The major concern of the unequal access to quality education or disparity of the rural areas versus the urban one had marginalized the rural child who equally wants to have access to same system and standard of education as it is in the urban settings.

Even though the urban educational system has its challenges, problems at the rural were quite challenging. The advantage of the city or urban education far outweighs that of rural poor. The student in the city is exposed to many social and environmental happenings in their surroundings and daily interactions making that student far better than the rural student because it contributes to the depth of knowledge and academic performance.

The rural schools are saddled with inadequate teachers, poor classroom structures and in some cases attend classes under trees. At times it becomes impossible to have lessons during the rainy season.

Even though the constitution demands equal access to education, it is just a mere rhetoric than reality.

Notwithstanding the challenges and difficulties rural pupils have to undergo, they still have to sit the same examinations with the urban child who already is miles ahead.

It is about time educational facilities and infrastructure were provided across and the length and breadth of the country equally and evenly to have similar desired impact. Imagine a student who travels miles to school on foot, some have to cross rivers and streams with its associated problems before they see the classroom.

Some of these students struggle to go to school only to meet empty structures without teachers. In some instances, pupils turned to teachers in lower classes.

Policy makers and implementers instead of tackling the situation by addressing the root causes sacrifice the opportunities and turn the future of the pupils to mere politicking. Politicians and policy makers must be serious and address the problems facing the system holistically otherwise in the near future, the worse could happen.

Such unequal distribution of education infrastructure leading to disparity could only be addressed if politics was avoided in education planning and a national policy direction that detects to policy makers what to do and not what they wish. Enough funds must be voted towards quality education with serious monitoring thus making the entire nation to benefit from the system.

It is clear that Ghana despite successes in the educational front still faces infrastructure and human resource challenges. Much attention must be given to the education sector to produce the needed human resource to run the wheels of the development agenda. It sometimes appears that enough resources have been spent yet little could be seen.

The interest of the many far outweighs the parochial interest of the individual. Ghanaians deserve to enjoy the riches of the nation and must therefore not be denied quality and equal education system. GNA

Culled from :Here

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