Having fully examined the 115 pages of the NPP's manifesto for the 2012 elections, we read their latest promise to build 350 new schools, which is not contained in their manifesto, with amusement. The NPP's latest attempt to attract voters raises more questions about the thinking that underlies their campaign than a realistic or pragmatic response to the development challenges facing Ghana's education system. Where is this new promise coming from? What really informed it?
The NPP does not seem to appreciate the enormous needs of quality and access in the education sector. This point is premised on their manifesto, in which they promise free Senior High School (SHS), only to be faced with the question, "which classroom will you put the free studiers?"
Two interesting things are shown by the latest promise. One, the NPP has shown that at least they are aware of the critical decision-making data about the our education system: namely that, 29% of Kindergarten graduates drop out; out of those who proceed to primary, 8% do not find space in Junior High School. By Senior High school, a whopping 65% of the numbers who started Kindergarten drop out. The proportion, according to the NPP manifesto, rises to a devastation 97% who never make it to the University. A cursory observer would not struggle to identify the fundamental twin needs of access and quality.
The second interesting thing is that, despite this depressing figures, the NPP failed to appreciate the enormity of the problem. As a result, they failed to propose a logical and most sensible solution. This is highlighted by the following: without well trained and capable teachers in properly equipped classrooms, pupils and students cannot have the quality of education that will enable them pass examinations and progress to the next level of their development. Indeed, as a result of these failures, the NPP's free SHS is tantamount to adding dirt to dirt.
The problem is not that there is costly education in Ghana, for which reason free SHS is would be warranted; the problem is that there is a dearth of quality teachers and well equipped learning environments.
It is in that regard that the NDC government undertook to focus on quality teachers, quality teaching and modern infrastructure which the NPP woefully failed to appreciate.
Clearly, the NPP's latest promise of education infrastructure (350 schools), which is not covered in their manifesto exposes their piecemeal approach to the problem and paints the NPP as a party which is simply not ready for the task of managing our education system, and the country for that matter.
Comparatively, the NDC's response, and track record has proven that it is a party which is not only proactive but also committed to equity and fairness in quality education delivery to the Ghanaian people. the NDC has made a case by showing to the people of Ghana what it has achieved and what it can do when its mandate is renewed.
For example, the NDC's records in the provision of quality education infrastructure are verifiable. In terms of quality the party has carefully unrolled the new education reform programmes based on the Djobo Committee report. It can also boast of having established the ten polytechnics across the country. Since 2008, the NDC has supplied 3million free school uniforms, 40 million exercise books per year to basic schools nationwide, eliminated 40% of schools under trees, over 100,000.00 laptops and computers to enhance quality ICT education, and more than doubled the beneficiaries of the school feeding programme. Additionally, science resource centres which were established by previous NDC governments and abandoned by the Kufuor government, have seen a considerable rehabilitations since 2009 (59 out of 110 have been rehabilitated) to enhance quality science education.
Again, the track record of the NDC in education delivery since our independence is unequalled. Indeed majority of Ghana's education infrastructure was provided under NDC governments. Apart from the universities established by our colonial rulers, only the NDC established all other state-owned universities Ghana can boast of. This feet has been vastly improve by the current NDC administration which also added two more, in the Volta and Bono Ahafo Regions. As we write, students of these two new universities are well into their first semester of academics work and training.
It is in this regard that the NPP's promise to build new schools can only be taken with a pinch of salt. Clearly the NPP is losing the argument on the provision of 'free' education and realised that they cannot be trusted when it comes to the delivery of education in Ghana. On the other hand the NDC is credible when it says that it has the ability, capacity and the plan to deliver what it promises in its 2012 manifesto. In this election Ghanaians are faced with two clear choices: a choice between farcical and reactionary promises on one hand and a credible track record of performance on the other. We have an eternal belief in the Ghanaian voter's discerning ability. That will be put to work on December 7th.
By: Alexander Bediako and Kofi Adoli, UK.