Home General News Stanley Writes: Ghana’s Educational Reforms, A Game To Politicians?

Stanley Writes: Ghana’s Educational Reforms, A Game To Politicians?

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I was once a History student in the High School, and I remember very well that I was taught that one of the importance of studying history is to know the events in the past, so that you can foresee the possible future incidents and make rational policies. I don’t know if this idea still applies to why studying History in this modern day, and if it does, do the leaders of this country, Ghana, really know our history? If they do, why the irrational policies?

Quality education is one of the main essentials for the growth of every nation, and Ghana is not exempted. During the precolonial times, education in Ghana was informal. This was because the economy dwelled on subsistence farming and economic activities were family owned and family controlled. There was no need for employment outside of the family, hence there wasn’t the need to learn disciplines, values and skills through formal education.

Formal education was born into the country uniformly when the First Prime Minister, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, after independence in 1957, led the country into rapid industrialization which caused lesser emphasis on agriculture and other subsistence economic activities. The operation was focused on the southern part of Ghana (Accra, Takoradi and Tema). As a result, most of the manufacturing and service activities were centered around these areas.

This caused lots of people to migrate from rural areas to these urban towns in the south to seek for employment in the manufacturing and service industries. The urban population increased by 23% between 1960 and 2005. The rate of the urbanization in Ghana between 2005 and 2010 was 3.6% which made the country’s urban and rural population 51.5% and 48.5% respectively. The rapid shift from informal to formal made education a very important objective in Ghana. As a result, every government made it a point to make a remarkable impact on the educational system even when they knew there are not enough resources to push this agenda. So, a lot of reforms were introduced into education.

In 1961, the Education Act introduced the policy of Free and Compulsory Primary Education. Therefore, the figure of the number of students enrolled during the next year doubled. This impulsive expansion became out of control; the nation rapidly fell short of teachers to handle the excess students, and the quality of the curriculum was put in question. The enrollment despite the rapid increment in the provision of infrastructure declined. There were lots of criticism towards the impulsive expansion of education at the cost of quality.

In 1974, there were new reforms. The “Dozbo Committee” report came out with two goals and one led to the creation of Primary School, Junior Secondary School and the Senior Secondary School structure. These reforms were partially implemented because of financial constraints and political instability. In the beginning of the1980, the economy suffered recession and the country started failing to solving the deficit of teachers and maintaining the infrastructures.

In 1987, there was a relative period of political stability that proceeded the coup of Jerry John Rawlings. This political stability served as a doorway for the accessibility of international supports. The Rawlings government was able to gather much funds from lots of international organizations including the World Bank to establish gross changes in the education system of the country. This reform succeeded in doing all it scheduled to do but failed the promise of the universal access to free basic education in Ghana.

In this modern day, the current government during his campaign promised to implement free compulsory senior secondary school which has taken effect. The policy has increased massively the number of enrollment, as a result causing a major challenge being limited infrastructure to shelter the students and other necessary facilities. This has led the government to effect a new reform by implementing a double track system of education. So, 400 public Senior High Schools were listed out of 696 to operate the double track system which is to take effect September 2018. Ghana Education Service is to employ over 8,000 teachers which is expected to handle effectively about 180,000 new students to be enrolled.

It is a very good initiative. It will reduce unemployment rate and encouraging number of enrollment into the secondary cycle institutions in the country. These are the two major importance, if there is any importance, it is nothing than satisfying the ego of the leadership of the nation who is gambling with the future of these children to accomplish his political ambitions and as a mockery to the opposition party. He is daring to do it at all cost to prove to the opposition that he said its possible. There is this adage that “when two elephants fights, the grass suffers”. I pity these students.

There are many questions than reasonable answers to be given as to the effectiveness of this policy, yet when talked about, the party fanatics swallows your words before it could be heard. What happens to the 296 schools not listed for the policy? What happens to the privately owned schools? How quality could secondary education be now? Would the 296 non-listed schools, the listed 400 and the privately owned schools both write same final examination (SSSCE) into the tertiary institutions? How consistent would this policy be? Because there was a reform in 2007 where the senior secondary school structure was made four years, but the proceeded government restructured it back to the three years.

I don’t think the government has foresight. It is irrefutable he didn’t look at the history of how some impulsive reforms on education resulted and also to see all these possible challenges, hence, upon advises received, the policy still went on established. People would argue that every change comes with its challenges, and that is heard from the fanatics who have turned into motivational speakers now. Education is a delicate issue governments shouldn’t be doing “try and error” with. Because if it goes bad, it will affect an entire batch of future productive workforce of the nation. But they don’t see it this way, after all their wards are not affected if education in Ghana goes bad, as it is now.

Looking at the reforms that took off in the pasts, it clearly depicts that similar events are about to happen. Over 8,000 teachers are now to be placed on government payroll, excluding the yearly recruitment of teachers into the basic educational sector, the health sector, the security sector and other government agencies. If the nation doesn’t reconsider some factors, she will run to north, south, east and west to assemble funds for this agenda and the debts she will pile would run the economy into mockery. I’m not surprised the government wanted $54 billion loan from China for hundred years. The economy is not ready for this current educational reform. It will do more harm than good.

Education takes 23% of the nation’s budget. With the current issues taking place it’s irrefutable it would take half or more than half. And if it happens like that what happens to the other sectors like creation of jobs awaiting the thousands of students enrolled. The world would clap for Ghana for being the most educated country yet the employment rate would be high. This would give rise to crimes of all sort.

It seems our part of the world admire great numbers – quantity than quality. What is the essence of 100 students where only 5 are best to 50 students where 49 are best? This will go a long way to affect productivity. I was imagining the number of students that will get access to the tertiary institution and the number that would be classified as quality and equipped to work to boost the productivity of the nation.

According to the 2013-2014 report of World Economic Forum, Ghana was ranked 46th out of 148 countries for education system quality. On 13th May, 2015, OECO (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) published the biggest global school rankings and Ghana was ranked last out of 76 countries. Singapore was first, amongst four other Asian countries comprising the first five. Sweden was 35th, UK was 20th and US 28th. With the current educational reforms, do you think the figures for the consequent rankings could change for the best?

The ex government built some schools and are not in use now. The reason is there are claims that those schools are in bushes and outskirts of towns. This can only be heard from people with no vision and foresight. Were schools like Adisadel, Ghana National College and others in the middle of the town? They were all in outskirts of towns, but as time revolved, they are where they are now. I believe if this government take charge and make good use of the infrastructures the ex government put up this double track reform wouldn’t be necessary. If they are in bushes or outskirts of towns, what about providing enough security on campuses? If they are day schools, is providing school buses a big deal for the nation?

The system has become so tensed. People are losing their jobs, inflation on the run, and the best the government could do is to give a free education to stabilize the economy – how possible. Its funny how they boast of giving guardians peace of mind with this educational reform. Do you think if they make the economy flexible, people get jobs doing and a kind that pays well, others are shooting up businesses, like the ordinary citizen would bother about paying his wards quality tuition fees? Never. What’s happening is like killing Peter to save Paul.

According to the reforms that took place as narrated in the beginning of this write up, it was evident that infrastructural and financial constraints were the main causes of their ineffectiveness. So the government should have known this would happen again. Education in Ghana should be made in a way that politicians can’t just be interfering in it affairs just to push their political agenda. An independent body should take hold of it so that the governments would not have direct effect on. At the end of the day, their wards are not affected.

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