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General News Wed, 7 Apr 1999

Northern Easter School opens at Navrongo

Navrongo(Upper East) 7 April '99 The central theme of this year's Northern Easter School, which opened at Navrongo in the Upper East region today is Problems hindering effective education in northern Ghana. The five-day school, which has attracted about 300 participants from the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions is on the theme "Education and Development in the next Millennium -- issues affecting Northern Ghana". It aims at identifying and finding solutions to problems militating against development in the three regions. It will also discuss the poor educational standards that have plagued the area over the years and look for measures that will reduce the incidence of marginalisation of the north. Professor R.B. Bening, Vice-Chancellor of the University for Development Studies (UDS), noted that poor educational standards, high school dropout rates and poor enrolment figures in schools of the north are all due to poverty and ignorance. "Since availability is not accessibility, abject poverty has continued to deprive some enterprising northern children of continuing their education," he added Prof Bening said northerners constituted less than 10 per cent of freshmen who entered the University of Ghana, Legon, in 1997, an indication that the educational gap between the north and south would not close up in the near future. The majority of the population who are farmers, produce barely sufficient for sustenance mainly due to unfavourable weather pattern and poor soils, he said, adding that this makes the people unable to get involved in other important things. The Vice-Chancellor indicated that the relationship between education and development could not be ignored. A good education offers a firm foundation for personal freedom. Alhaji Amidu Sulemana, Upper East regional minister who opened the school, appealed to parents and district assemblies to embrace the Free Compulsory Universal Basic Educational (FCUBE) programme and ensure that all children of school-going age are enrolled and made to stay. He expressed concern at the low rate of literacy in the region, saying that only about 20 per cent of rural children between the ages of six and 10 years attend school. Alhaji Sulemana called on the participants to pay more attention to the discussion on girl-child education and come out with strategies that would change the present situation. The school will study and discuss the increasing access to education in northern Ghana, ways of enhancing the status of the girl-child in northern Ghana and improving agricultural practices in the region. Other topics centre on population and family life education, environmental and public health education.

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