The 2019 Global Action Week on Education has been launched with a reminder to the government of its commitment to the Goal 4 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG4) and a call for the formulation and implementation of policies, strengthening systems and establishment of mechanisms to address the systematic iniquities in the education system.
According to the Chairman of the Ghana National Education Campaign Coalition (GNECC), Kofi Asare, though Ghana has made some strides in the education sector over the years through various reforms and policies, the inequalities in the sector still serves as a barrier to achieving the SDG4.
“It is estimated that Rural children attending public basic schools have only 20% chance of making it to the tertiary level. Urban children attending basic schools have only 40% chance of making it to the tertiary level,” he stated. He was speaking at the official launch of the Global Action Week for Education 2019 in Accra.
He blamed the phenomenon on the poor quality public basic education being served by the Ghana Education Service (GES) for the past 20 years.
“Our concern is, most of the policy interventions have always focused on access and tangible outputs rather than learning outcomes. We have always built schools, provided books, uniforms, teachers allowance, teacher training and development, reviewed curriculum and even provided food, but these investments have never guaranteed increased literacy, numeracy and problem solving skills – something is definitely missing in the equation,” he stated
According to him, less than 10% of rural children are able to afford early child care and education before age 4, making majority of rural children to skip nursery schools since they have no money to access nursery education which is largely private sector led.
He observed that the poor quality of learning outcomes has led to a resort to private basic education by the urban and peri-urban populace. “Today, low income earners, earning below Ghc600 have a reason to enroll their children in so called low-fee paying private schools instead of the free compulsory universal basic education guaranteed by the constitution.
“Private schools, knowing they have a virtual monopoly over quality learning outcomes, are exploiting many economically,” he stated.
He accused the government of doing very little to ensure that persons with disability enjoy quality education.
“Of all the hundreds of schools being constructed across the country from GETFUND, GoG, etc., it is difficult to find one school which has a common disabled access. The simple issue of incorporating disabled access to school designs has taken the Ministry of Education over two decades and counting. The approach to providing brail, hearing aids and other learning kits/instruments for children with learning disabilities has always been tokenistic than obligatory,” he stated.
“On gender, many schools still do not have access to toilet facilities. There are hundreds of schools currently under construction in Ghana today, without any component of separate toilet facilities for girls and boys”
He said gains made in access to quality secondary education are likely to be eroded by poor learning outcomes due to poor quality of education being administered under the Double Track SHS Policy.
“Everything about the Double Track Free SHS lacks quality; Ghanaians cannot pretend to be oblivious of this fact. Those who have the financial capability are paying as much as $8,000 a year to access private secondary education in Ghana,” he revealed rather disturbingly.
To this effect, the GNECC has called on the government to ensure among others that, Children living in rural communities and urban slums have access to free, quality basic education that guarantees quality learning outcomes from Kindergarten (KG) to Junior High School (JHS); review the relevance of nursery education to quality basic education and consider absorbing same into the basic education system to enhance access and quality at KG1.
They want the Ghana Education Service (GES) to take the issue of teacher accountability very serious because without a properly supervised and accountable teacher, there shall never be quality learning outcomes in public basic schools.
“Infrastructure at the secondary level must be expanded to accommodate the increasing numbers to phase out the double track system. Government must make the interest of girls and children with disability a priority in developing education policies and interventions. All school structures, both existing and under construction must have disabled access and separate toilet facilities for girls and boys.
“The draft private education regulatory framework is long overdue. Government must speed up the finalization of this framework to make way for a proper regulation of private schools in Ghana.”
The Global Action Week is flagship event of the Global Education Movement. Created and led by the Global Campaign for Education, it provides everyone campaigning for the right to education with an opportunity to make targeted efforts to achieve change on the ground, with the added support of millions of members of the public worldwide joining together for the same cause.
Source: Jeorge Wilson Kingson || ghananewsonline.com.gh