Ministry's policy is to produce resourceful youth
Accra, Feb.5 GNA- The Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, on Thursday said the thrust of policy under the Youth and Sports is to build, nurture and produce hardworking and resourceful youth.
He said the youth would become self-reliant and capable of supporting national efforts at attaining a stable, peaceful and progressive nation.
He said an amount of 1.3 billion cedis was utilised in the construction of a multi-purpose office complex for the National Youth Council (NYC) at Kaneshie.
The complex consists of offices, an assembly hall for organising youth programmes and indoor games.
Mr Osafo Maafo said this when he presented the 2004 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of Government under which he highlighted the objectives of the medium term priority areas of the enhanced Social Services.
He said the Phase two of the rehabilitation of the National Sports College, Winneba, has progressed steadily while a total of 370 million cedis was spent on rehabilitating the hall of residence and upgrading one of the football parks.
The Minister said under the outlook for 2004, the budget of the sector is geared towards implementation of the ESP, which was informed by the GPRS. Implementation of the ESP will facilitate the achievement of the targets of Universal Primary Completion by 2015 and Gender Parity in enrolments by 2005.
He said in line with the ESP, the activities for 2004 include the Ministry's efforts at completing work on the new Education Bill.
The Bill would provide the legal framework for the implementation of the education sector reforms that the nation has embarked upon. The ESP would target an increase in national Gross Primary Enrolments to 86.1 per cent in 2004 accompanied by an increase in the primary level gender parity index.
An amount of nine billion cedis has been approved as capitalization grant to primary schools in 40 selected deprived districts as a measure to lead to the abolition of school fees/levies in those districts and ensure increased enrolment of school pupils in primary schools. The programme will be extended eventually to cover all other districts in subsequent years, he added.
Mr Osafo Maafo said also targeted is an increase in the national pupil: teacher ratio (PTR) to increase from 31.3:1 in 2003 to 32.7:1 in 2004. This will help to improve cost efficiency and human resource management within the sector, approaching the long -term target of achieving 35:1 by 2010.
He said the Ministry hopes to further reduce geographical inequities, targeting an increase in PTR in the Northern Region from 34.2:1 to 34.8:1, and a fall in the PTR of 49.8:1 to 47.4:1 in the Upper East Region and from 41.8:1 to 37.9:1 in Upper West Region in order that all regions will eventually converge on the national target. The Minister said in order to achieve these targets, the policy of providing an incentive package to encourage teachers to locate in deprived areas will be aggressively pursued. The package will include the supply of bicycles, radio sets and teachers accommodation. The Ministry has put in place strategies to meet teacher demand in the deprived districts and an amount of 20 billion cedis has been earmarked for the construction of staff bungalows for teachers in basic schools in deprived areas.
Mr Osafo Maafo said to supplement the availability of teachers in rural areas the National Service Secretariat would continue the National Volunteer Service Programme this year.
The programme involves a targeted local volunteer force of 5,000 to be posted to the rural areas at a cost of 18 billion cedis.
The Minister said the Ghana Education Service is also pursuing a policy to achieve a pupil textbook ratio of three core textbooks per pupil at both primary and JSS levels, a target of 1:3 public schools by 2005. The interim target is 1:2.3 at the primary level and 1:2.8 at the JSS level for 2004.
To enable the achievement of this target, an amount of 42.2 billion cedis had been earmarked for 2004 for the provision of teaching and learning materials, including textbooks for basic schools.
Mr Osafo Maafo said to accelerate the education sector development government would implement the Education Sector Project (EdSeP) under which a number of programmes will be initiated.
Some of these programmes are, the National Capacity Building programme at a cost of 24.4 billion cedis to support and enhance service delivery and Pilot Programmatic Scheme (PPS), at a cost of 55.8 billion cedis targeting basic education and supporting the implementation of the Education Strategic Plan.
The Minister said Government plans to complete the 440 six-unit classroom blocks with ancillary facilities for basic schools in all districts of the country.
Twenty-five SSS have been selected for the second phase of the Model Senior Secondary Schools Programme and an amount of 52 billion cedis will be spent to upgrade physical facilities in these schools. In addition, work on the first phase of the programme involving 31 schools would also continue.
Mr Osafo-Maafo said the National Science Resource Centres will be provided with computers and accessories at the cost of two billion cedis to facilitate the upgrading of computer skills in teaching, while similarly, some selected Senior Secondary Schools will be provided with well-equipped computer laboratories at a cost of three billion cedis. He said Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) would continue to be an important focus of the Ministry with the national policy to be in place in the course of the year.
With the completion of the 20 Vocational and Technical Resource Centres, an amount of 14.0 billion cedis has been earmarked for the training of technical teachers.
Additionally, six billion cedis had been earmarked for the construction of new workshops and two billion cedis for rehabilitation works in the Technical Institutes respectively.
Mr Osafo Maafo said at the tertiary level, Government has received a Spanish facility amounting to 14.6 million dollars, which will be utilised to expand facilities at the University for Development Studies (UDS) and some Polytechnics.
He said an amount of 52 billion cedis would be made available for the National Functional Literacy programme, which provides instruction to the level of functional literacy for the adult population.
The Minister said Government would continue to support distance education programme as a complementary mode of education delivery.
Mr Osafo Maafo said the Education Sector Project (EdSeP) will also include 55.8 billion cedis in 2004 for a number of activities at the tertiary level including the establishment of a Teaching and Learning Innovation Fund for tertiary institutions to improve postgraduate training, support the University for Development Studies, develop polytechnic education as a viable alternative to university education and improve HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention in tertiary institutions. The Minister said under the National Youth Fund, skilled youth would have access to credit at the job centers of Youth Institutes, Technical Schools and the Integrated Community Centers for Employable Skills (ICCES). This is to create sustainable jobs for the youth.