General News of Sun, 24 Sep 201711
Free SHS: Pay much attention to basic schools - Group to government
A group calling itself, Concerned Movement of Education (CMD) has called on government to have look at the basic schools in Ghana and address some of the challenges facing the schools.
In a press statement issued on September 23, 2017 and signed by its President and Founder, Mr. Joel S. Ndede questioned the President Akufo-Addo led government on how one can get access to enjoy the Free SHS education program when pupils at the basic schools are facing challenges and cannot afford to buy exercise books and textbooks.
He added that the Free SHS education program implemented by NPP government is totally needless until the numerous challenges confronting basic schools are addressed well.
He however, appealed to the government and Education Ministry to scrap off B.E.C.E charges, PTA dues and examination charges at the basic schools level and provide free textbooks, calculators, exercise books and feeding programmes for all pupils at the basic schools.
He underscored a point that, teachers at the basic schools are currently using their own pocket money to buy teaching and learning materials such as textbooks to teach the school pupils.
Below is the full statement;
For immediate press release
FREE S.H.S POLICY WOULD BE UNACCEPTABLE AND DISCRIMINATORY IF GOVERNMENT FAILS TO SCRAP OFF B.E.C.E CHARGES, EXAMINATION CHARGES,AND PTA DUES ; A CLARION CALL TO PROVIDE FREE EXERCISE BOOKS, TEXTBOOKS,CALCULATORS, SCHOOL UNIFORMS AND FREE FEEDING PROGRAMMES TO ALL PUPILS AT THE BASIC SCHOOL LEVEL - CONCERNED MOVEMENT OF EDUCATION (CMD)
Education is a key to national development and is considered as one of the major tools for eradicating poverty and preventing ignorance among citizens since it provides the needed human resources for a country's development. Harbison (1973) suggests that human resource constitutes the ultimate basis for the wealth of nations. It is the active agent of production because it accumulates physical capital, exploits natural resources, builds and develops social, political and economic institutions and deals with the planning and implementation of national development programmes.
Indeed, Nelson Mandela rightly pointed the importance of education when he said, “education is the most powerful tool that can be used to change the world".
As a result of the importance of education, governments in Africa have initiated various policies aimed at increasing enrolment within the educational sector. In Ghana, various policies have been formulated since independence to help improve access and quality of education. Some recent policies being implemented in the educational sector include the School Feeding Program, distribution of “Free school uniform and exercise books”, and the Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) ad among others.
While all these government initiatives continue to increase, evidence on the ground suggest that not much has been achieved in terms of the quality of pupils produced at the various educational institutions, more especially the public ones. For instance, records from the West African Examination Council (WAEC) indicate that 50% of BECE candidates who sat for the 2012 examinations failed and were therefore not eligible to be admitted into senior high schools.
Also, results obtained from the 2014 WASSCE show that about 70% of students who wrote the examination failed. The concerns here are as follows:
1. What happens to all these pupils and what impact would it have on national socio-economic development?.
2. How can one gets access to free SHS policy while Education at the basic schools is not free ?
3. How can one gets access to free SHS while pupils at the basic schools are being sacked for not paying PTA dues?
4. How can one gets access to enjoy free SHS while pupils at the basic schools are facing challenges and can't afford to buy exercise books and textbooks for learning?
5. How does government expect all Pupils to enjoy free SHS while some parents are not able to pay their children's examination fees or B.E.C.E registration fees?
6. Does the government provide Teaching and learning materials such as textbooks, exercise books, calculators, and mathematical sets to pupils at the basic schools?
A critical look at the above questions indicates that free SHS policy is needless if government fails to address those questions entangling our educational system.
Moreover, the increasing rate of teenage pregnancy among children of school going age and the reality that some schools are still operating under trees in certain parts of the country has become a cause of worry for many who have keenly followed activities within the educational sector.
Since independence, various governments have implemented policies to make education accessible to almost every Ghanaian of school going age. Indeed, the 1992 Constitution explicitly stated “that basic education shall be free, compulsory and available to all; secondary education in its different forms, including technical and vocational education, shall be made generally available and accessible to all by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education; higher education shall be made equally accessible to all, on the basis of capacity, by every appropriate means, and in particular, by progressive introduction of free education".
Despite this constitutional provision, it is still very clear that not all communities in Ghana have access to education (well-furnished educational facility). In some situations, pupils have to walk several miles in order to attend school. This becomes even more difficult and virtually impossible during raining seasons as roads become inaccessible.
Moreover, there is lack of effective teaching and learning materials such as textbooks, chalks, exercise books and science equipments in the basic schools. There are instances where teachers had to buy those teaching and learning materials for themselves before they could teach. This is as a result of government's inability to provide them the needed resources needed for teaching and learning.
These challenges have therefore hindered access to education in most communities and villages especially those located outside the major cities within the country.
While the previous governments over the years have performed very well in bringing one reform or the other to the education sector, the reality is that much still need to be done. The government must as a matter of urgency ensure that virtually every community in the country has an education system at least to the basic level. This will ensure that almost every child of school going age will have access to good quality education.
The Ministry of Education must also institute enough incentive mechanisms to encourage people especially the youth into the education sector and reduce the incessant industrial action that has plagued the sector in recent times. Supervision of teachers must be intensified to ensure that teachers recruited to teach are rendering their service to the nation. I do however believe that enough work need to be done at the basic level to ensure that enough quality is delivered before it is extended to the top. As to when we will be ready to adopt a free education, it is matter for a different day.
I'm by this release appealing to government and education ministry to scrap off B.E.C.E charges, PTA dues and examination charges at the basic school level and also provide free textbooks, calculators, exercise books and feeding programmes for all pupils at the basic schools.
God bless Ghana Education Service God bless Ministry of Education God bless us all God bless our homeland, Ghana.
.......signed..... Joel S. Ndede (An Educationist )