Former Education Minister, Prof. Jane Naana Opoku-Agyeman has defended the rationale for pursuing the ‘200 Community Day schools’ agenda under the leadership of the erstwhile Mahama government.
According to her, the point in establishing day schools in various communities in especially rural areas nationwide was to ease the cost of paying boarding fees and providing monies for support materials on parents.
She explained that it was the priority of the NDC government to break barriers to accessing education and allow for more persons to be admitted without prohibitions.
“The focus was on Community Day schools for the reason that if you look at any child’s bills from the senior secondary schools, you’ll notice that the boarding was the highest and that was also the reason that somebody might or might not go to school”, she explained.
“We argue that it would be nice for anyone to be in boarding school but that wasn’t the reason why they shouldn’t go to school at all. In so far as the person has been able to go to a day junior high school, the junior high school is still secondary. So you’ve done half as a day student, it ought to be possible for this person to complete it in the day system rather than not go to school at all and it is not just the fees, all the preparations that the parents must make provisions for and all of this was prohibited to a lot of our people so the plan was to try to remove the cost barriers to senior secondary education and that’s why we thought about day schools first”, she added.
Her comments come on the back of remarks by Professor Steve Adei suggesting that the decision by the Mahama government to put up some 200 Community Day Senior High Schools was a useless one considering that the only beneficiaries of the vision were the contractors who put up the said facilities and not Ghanaians.
According to the educationist, situating most of these secondary schools in the hinterlands particularly was pointless since there were no hostel or boarding facilities available to students and teachers making it difficult for any of those schools in such obscure locations in rural Ghana to attract the needed numbers [1,500] to fully make use of the facilities.
Prof. Opoku-Agyemang, however, questioned how any investment in education can be described as a waste when it is virtually aimed at developing the youth who are the country’s backbone.
“I don’t see how any investment in education can be useless, I think investment in education is good...”
She further detailed what went into choosing specific districts and the siting of the various schools, maintaining that focus on urban areas as suggested by her colleague Prof. Adei will merely contribute to disparities in the sector.
“I will not agree because we did a lot of homework before the sites were chosen. According to the act that established the district assemblies, each district must have a secondary school and the districts are done with the population in mind and if that is so, then I’m not aware of a district with 200 people. When we started, new districts were created by both governments, we prioritized the districts that had no secondary schools and in choosing where the schools should be sited, it wasn’t the priority of the ministry as such, we could only make suggestions because the ministry didn’t have land”.
“I’m not sure about it being inflated and it being in villages where there’s no use. We have a youthful population so every year, we have more people than the year before and education also helps with democracy and social equity, if you cite all the schools in the cities, you inconvenience those in the rural areas”.