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Opinions Sun, 10 Mar 2019

Make basic schools competency-based diploma awarding institutions

Education has been identified as the vehicle for the socio-economic development of countries the world over. Due to the enormous benefits education has on the individual and the country at large, it has become a right guaranteed by the legal provisions in Ghana.

The right to education is guaranteed in Ghana’s 1992 Constitution which states in Article 38(2) that “The Government shall within two years after Parliament first meets after coming into force of this Constitution, draw up a program for the implementation within the following 10 years for the provision of a Free, Compulsory Universal Basic Education.

Article 25 of the constitution further provides for equal rights to educational opportunities. The article also introduces progressively free education at the secondary level. Since the promulgation of this law, Basic education which currently starts at Kindergarten one and ends at Junior High school three has been made free and compulsory.

The New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) 2016 election manifesto promised to redefine basic education to include senior high school (SHS), covering vocational, agricultural and technical schools, and make it available for free for all Ghanaians. In 2017, the government indicated its intention to use petroleum revenues to extend free basic education to the secondary level—meaning SHS.

Just a couple of days ago, the Minister for Education was alleged to have made a proposal that Basic education which will now span from KG 1 to SHS 3 should be diploma warding. This in my opinion is possible if done tactically.

Basic Education can be divided into two; Low Basic and Upper Basic. Low Basic should comprise, KG, Primary and JHS. Upper Basic should comprise SHS and Apprenticeship Training. The curriculum at the Lower Basic should focus on the development of literacy, numeracy, problem solving, and computer skills.

Children at this level should be supported to develop creative, problem solving and critical thinking skills. Impartation of Psychosocial life skills, ethical standards or moral education should be vigorously pursued to enable the young ones fit comfortably in the Ghanaian society.

Whiles, the Lower Basic should serve as a preparatory stage for the kids to have a smooth start in life, it should also serve as an avenue for talent identification. The children should be critically studied and assessed for placement in various career programs at the Upper Basic. For instance, children identified to have strong talents for science and technology should be placed in science related programs.

Children with interest in creative arts, technical drawing and technical skills could be placed in the technical related programs in the upper senior high schools. Some children interestingly have flare in writing and speaking and may be put in the grammar-based programs such as socials sciences/humanities at the Upper Basic. The Upper Basic curriculum should be revised to make it career oriented instead of “WAEC” oriented curriculum.

Education at the Upper Basic should be both terminal and continuing. Those who wish to continue to the tertiary level to do degree courses should be made to sit for university/tertiary entrance exams to qualify them for entry.

Those who want to take up jobs should now be enrolled into the various apprenticeship programs according to the programs they did at the upper basic. Concerted effort must be made by Government to establish and well resource at least one apprenticeship training institution in every district capital.

At this level the apprentice should be vigorously trained using the competency-based training model of COTVET, purely for the job market. This is the stage where industry players/job market players/ employers will be brought in to assist. Once the trainees acquire the job skills based on job industry standards, getting jobs in the job market will not be tedious. Ghana can also develop an export market for its human resources.

At the end of the training, the apprentices should be assessed collaboratively by job market players/industry players/ employers and the training institutions. The assessment should lead to the award of POST BASIC COMPETENCY-BASED DIPLOMA IN (e.g. Carpentry and joinery, consumer electronics, welding and fabrication, block work, textile and garments etc.). Lifelong principles should be applied after this.

Through seminars, workshops and on-the-job training, the individual can upgrade his or skills to be in tune with changing trends. There should be clear academic progression routes for these graduates. They may be admitted to do distance programs in the tertiary institutions.

In Ghana, people do not place value on apprenticeship training. People think that it is for people with low intellectual ability. But I completely differ from this.

Those who think critically are those found in this kind of training programs. To make it attractive, government can introduce some incentives. The incentives could be monthly allowances for apprentices and automatic job placement for the trainees.

Ghana can also develop an export market for the trainees if all of them cannot be absorbed by the job market. When this is done, the tertiary institutions will be decongested and the unemployment rate will also be reduced.

Columnist: Peter Yidana