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Education Reforms, Fallen Standards and .....

Wed, 28 Dec 2005 Source: GNA


A GNA Feature by KWABIA OWUSU-MENSAH Kumasi, Dec. 28, GNA - The quest for quality education to prepare the human capital for an accelerated socio-economic growth in the country had engaged the attention of governments since the independence. The desire had not only engaged the maximum attention of governments but had also received the support of the people, who had religiously rallied behind the governments at various stages in the country's history to introduce policies and reforms to achieve the requisite results.

Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, the First President of Ghana, launched the Accelerated Development Plan of Education in 1951. It aimed at creating a highly literate society to meet the challenges of a young independent sovereign state. Under the plan, education at the primary level became free and compulsory, together with other incentives for children from deprived communities.

After his overthrow in a coup sponsored by the U.S.A. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in February 1966, his plan was criticised and abandoned for opening the floodgates to education too fast and wide, thus, leading to "some erosion of the standard of education" at the elementary and secondary school levels and also for creating "the phenomenon of unemployed school leavers".

The Kwapong Review Committee was set up by the National Liberation Council to review Nkrumah's plan in 1966.

Two years into the government of General I. K. Acheampong, the Dzobo Review Committee was also commissioned in 1974 to review the existing educational policies to "introduce the concept of comprehensive junior secondary school (JSS) to teach academic and practical skills to all pupils".

The Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) introduced its own educational reforms to address the flaws in the Acheampong Education Reforms.

With the recent exist of the government of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), it has been observed that the implementation of Ghana's most recent education reforms which began in 1987, brought to the fore many problems in the objectives, content, administration and the management of education "which had failed to meet the expectations in terms of its coverage, quality, equitableness and economic utility".

To address all these shortcomings, the Anamuah-Mensah Education Reform Review Committee was commissioned in 2001 by the government of New Patriotic Party (NPP) to "review the entire educational system in the country with the view to making it more responsive to current challenges". However, in spite of all these reviews and reforms since independence, the country had not succeeded in raising the standard of education to any appreciable level, nor had it they met the utility objectives. As indicated by Dr Lord Asamoah, Principal of the Kumasi Polytechnic at the Second quadrennial delegates conference of the Ashanti Regional Branch of Ghana national Association of Teachers (GNAT) in Kumasi recently, in spite of all the "fine promises in the past educational reforms, standards of education has fallen so low that, today majority of JSS leavers are unable to read, write and perform basic mathematical tasks while the population of school dropouts has increased significantly with associated economic and social problems". All the previous reforms had failed because they were built on weak financial foundations.

Even the implementation of the current reforms, which is expected to begin in 2007, is also under serious threat due to the huge financial implications involved.

It thus, becomes virtually impossible for the government alone to provide for the necessary inputs such as infrastructure, logistics for teaching and learning and professional personnel that would promote the delivery of quality teaching in public schools.

As Dr Asamoah stated, "countries that aspire towards high academic standards plan their education policies in such a way that even village schools are provided with basic amenities like spacious and furnished classrooms, libraries with appropriate books and computers for internet service, neat toilets, feeding and recreational facilities to achieve the basic aims of education of training the mind, the body and the soul to prepare the child to become a responsible adult".

However, what do we see in our public schools today? Classroom blocks are dilapidated while some do not have furniture. There is lack of textbooks for teachers and pupils as well as lack of library facilities and even chalk.

One disturbing factor, which is militating against quality education delivery, is the output of the trained professional. Teaching has lost its attraction due to poor conditions of service and salaries of teachers. Teachers have now become demoralised and disillusioned and hav e, therefore, not been able to give out what is expected of them.

Many young brilliant students are also refusing to enter into the teaching profession, while most parents would not willingly encourage their brilliant children to go into teaching as a career. As observed by Dr Asamoah, the danger in such a situation is that, the future of many children with the potential to become lawyers, doctors and engineers could be destroyed through bad teaching at the basic school level.

It would be counterproductive to play politics with the education of the country's youth.

A country with large number of uneducated or poorly educated youth, as there is in the country today, as a result of many years of destructive education, would find it difficult to progress economically. Education is regarded as the engine for national development and as stressed by Dr Asamoah, "quality teaching prepares the nation's workforce that ensures successful implementation of the economic and social programmes of a nation". "It does not only make it possible for a nation to replenish its ageing human capital, but also enriches its youthful workforce with new, innovative ideas, technologies and skills every dynamic society needs for its economic and social development and survival in a harsh and competitive global market". Quality human capital represents the greatest asset of every nation because it is the catalyst for every facet of national development. It is, therefore, important for the government to focus its attention on the promotion of the well-being of teachers not only to attract and maintain them in the classrooms but also to encourage young brilliant graduates to take up the teaching profession as a career to ensure quality education delivery in the country.

Columnist: GNA