Stakeholders worried about declining education in the north
Stakeholders in education in the Northern Region have expressed concern over the decreasing fortune of education in the area and have, therefore, called for immediate and practical measures to stem the tide.
They noted that besides the challenges of inadequate supervision, teacher absenteeism, unprofessional conduct and lack of basic school infrastructure, particularly in most rural communities, there were 404 schools in the region without teachers.
Added to these is the fact that out of the 26 administrative districts in the region, there are only 10 substantive directors of education.
The difficult situation has led to fluctuating results, including failures of pupils in the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) over the years. For instance, out of the 27,802 candidates who sat for the 2012 BECE exams, 10,945 had aggregate 6-30, representing 39.37 per cent.
The situation declined last year. While 31,877 students wrote the exam, only 11,164 candidates secured aggregate 6-30, representing 35.02 per cent.
These came to light during an educational forum in Tamale organised by the Northern Regional Co-ordinating Council in collaboration with the Regional Directorate of Education, IBIS Ghana and School for Life.
The meeting was on the theme; “Enhancing education delivery in the Northern Region; the way forward”. It took stock of the challenges and made recommendations that were supposed to help reverse the downward trend in education in the area.
The two-day meeting was attended by traditional rulers, district directors of education, parents, non-governmental organisations and other stakeholders in the education sector.
According to the Northern Regional Director of Education, Mr Paul Apanga, there were a total of 687 junior high schools (JHS) in the region, out of which 619 were public.
Boys make up 68,807, while the girls are 51,828.
He said there were also 2,329 primary schools, out of which 2,091 were public and the rest private. The pupil population in these schools comprise 243,487 boys and 215,187 girls. Teachers at the primary level are 11,019, which is 64.8 per cent of the required teacher population. At the JHS, there are 5,938 teachers, representing 80 per cent of the expected number.
He described as unfortunate the growing rate at which females dropped out of school in the region, and indicated that only 12 districts had so far achieved the gender parity index. He disclosed that efforts were being made to ensure that girls did not only enrol in schools but stayed and continued with their education.
The Country Director of IBIS, Mr Chals Wontewe, bemoaned the lackadaisical attitude exhibited by stakeholders towards education over the years.
“We just accept the problems, lament over them for a few days and move on. We can only raise the standard of education by consciously planning, allocating resources and monitoring what we implement while working collectively with all major players in the sector,” he indicated.
IBIS has rolled out several interventions to improve education in the region. Some of the measures are “Alliance for Change in Education (ACE)” and the “Wing School” concept under which over 2000 out-of-school children have been enrolled in schools, while more than 60 school leavers have undergone training as pupil teachers.
Deputy Northern Regional Minister
The Deputy Northern Regional Minister, Alhaji Abdul-Basit Alhassan Fuseini, called on parents and guardians to take the education of their wards seriously, stressing that education was the only weapon to eradicate the existing poverty and ignorance in the society.
"For every child you leave behind, you leave behind a great future; therefore, do not only take education seriously but also actualise the responsibilities that goes with it,” he admonished.
As part of the government’s effort to ensure the provision of quality education in the country, the minister pointed out that over GH¢5 billion had been allocated to the sector in this year’s budget. He mentioned that the government had also committed GH¢14 million as subsidy for BECE students.
“The distribution of free school uniforms and textbooks, as well as the construction of senior high schools across the country are ongoing, while plans are underway to implement a progressive free secondary education beginning next year,” Alhaji Fuseini stated.
The Chief of Sagnarigu in Tamale, Ambassador Yakubu Abdulai, advocated that teachers be provided with the required tools and logistics to ensure effective teaching and learning.
He, however, observed that in as much as such assistance was necessary, it behoved teachers to live up to their responsibilities. He suggested that teachers who erred must be dealt with accordingly.
Participants in the forum advocated that records be kept on teachers who only present themselves in school but left afterwards to do their own business.
Regular quiz competitions among schools and education circuits, particularly in Integrated Science, Mathematics and the English Language, were recommended, with emphasis on the teaching of phonetics and spelling in all subjects.
The participants supported the idea of BECE candidates being camped and taught during holidays, and urged the district assemblies and non-governmental organisations to provide support where necessary.