Mahama Bemoans Poor Handling Of Ghana’s Education Sector

Mahama

John Dramani Mahama, the Flagbearer of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), has bemoaned the poor handling of the country’s basic schools by President Akufo-Addo and Dr Mahamudu Bawumia Government.

He said, “We are aware of all the challenges that have bedeviled the education sector since the New Patriotic Party(NPP) government came into office nearly eight years ago. Clearly, our basic schools have been neglected.

The sector has been characterized by poor implementation of reforms that had not been properly thought through. Changes in the syllabus without accompanying textbooks and other learning materials.

As for the implementation of Free Senior High School(FSHS) the less talked about it the better. Just last week I had the privilege of meeting a cross-section of leaders of the Conference of Heads of Assisted Secondary Schools who lamented the poor implementation of FSHS and its effects on quality education delivery in the country.

I am aware that as key stakeholders, the NPP government has failed to consult you on many
policies that they are implementing.

The NDC is different, as a social democratic party, we believe in participation. This is a mark of good governance as it helps shape policies to make them more responsive to citizens.

Today’s meeting is yet another demonstration of the fact that the NDC is ready to listen to you and work with you to improve our education sector.

The NDC recognises all unions in the education sector, GNAT, NAGRAT, and CCT inclusive, as key stakeholders in quality education delivery in the country. The party has always taken and will continue to take the inputs of the unions into account when formulating educational policies.

That is why in the 2020 NDC Peoples’ Manifesto, in section 7.2. paragraph 6, under “Providing Globally Competitive and Quality Education,” the party stated, “Furthermore, the next NDC Government will usher in a new dawn for teachers through restoring the dignity of teachers and make them integral partners in national policy reforms.

In line with that recognition, I met with you the Pre-Tertiary Education Teacher Unions -GNAT,
NAGRAT, and CCT -at the NAGRAT Lyceum in 2020 for discussions. The inputs you made
were taken into consideration in the 2020 Manifesto.

In December 2023, I again caused an arrangement to be made for me to engage you. You requested to be allowed up to February 2024 to present a position document to guide all political parties in their engagement with you.

I am happy that you have codified your concerns into a document titled “Demands to the Political Parties on Education Delivery in Ghana for consideration and Incorporation into their 2024 Manifestoes.” This has paved the way for our engagement today.”

Speaking at an event in Accra christened “A Policy Dialogue With Pre-tertiary Unions” at the NAGRAT Lyceum in Accra, he said going through the demands presented by the teacher unions he realised that they significantly reflect the work already done by the Education Committee of the NDC.

Additionally, he said, the teacher unions demand to validate the quality of work the Education Committee of the NDC has put into its research.

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On the use of the First Language as a medium of instruction from Kidargateen to Basic 3, he said, the policy sits well with NDC’s policies.

The policy, according to him, will be considered alongside the training of more teachers in the major Ghanaian languages to make the implementation effective.

The NDC, John Mahama indicated, agrees with teacher Unions on the need to establish libraries in the basic schools to inculcate the culture of reading in the pupils. This, he added, is necessary not only for knowledge but also for pleasure, which is gradually diminishing in the basic schools.

The need to ensure the provision of relevant textbooks, workbooks, and teaching and
learning materials, according to him, were vigorously pursued under his administration under the Ministry of Education.

He said the distribution of school uniforms was done alongside textbook distribution when he was the President, noting that presently, the distribution of textbooks is a critical issue at the basic school level, stating that, he is not surprised the teacher unions had raised the issue.

Financing of education at the basic schools, he explained, is another major challenge. The NDC, according to him, will ensure the timely disbursement of capitation grants to the schools and the education directorates to
ensure effective management of the schools.

He said, “Financing of basic schools, I agree with you, should be need-based and resource-based.
The provision of free sanitary pads for female learners in both basic and senior high schools
was initiated under the erstwhile NDC government.

If you could remember, our opponents now in government mocked us on the initiative. For you, the unions to raise the issue again means that our policy on sanitary pads was well thought through and needs to be reintroduced.

The NDC policy of infrastructure development will again be pursued vigorously to decongest the large class sizes. Abandoned infrastructure in the basic and senior high and TVET schools, including the E-blocks, will receive priority attention under my administration.”

The need to review and improve upon the free SHS and TVET policy, according to him, is no longer debatable. He said, “It is a must, through stakeholder engagement to address the numerous challenges and strengthen its positives. It is thus not surprising that you have incorporated it into the teachers’ manifesto.”

The imperative of the free SHS Secretariat being supervised by the Education Directorate is our considered view. The Education Service, which is an implementing agency, has the capacity to implement the policy.

The NDC will, therefore, integrate the Secretariat into the education service directorate and not have them as separate entities.

I announced to the CHASS representatives last week that we would decentralize the school feeding programme and return the responsibility for feeding to the schools.

This will boost the local economy and ensure that the students receive more nutritious food.”
John Mahama said the Parents Teachers Association (PTA), especially at the SHS level, had been rendered weak, dysfunctional, and ineffective.

PTAs, he further said, are a vehicle for community and stakeholder participation in the work of the schools.
The NDC, he indicated, will therefore work towards restoring stakeholder participation in Ghana’s education system at all levels.

Commenting on the workload on teachers, the Former President said, “We will work to aggressively expand space at the secondary level to decongest the classes and abolish the double track system that has eroded vacation rest periods for teachers.

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In this regard, as I stated earlier, we would prioritize the completion of abandoned infrastructure in existing secondary schools and the completion of the abandoned E-Blocks. We would identify high population areas for siting of community day schools, including on the lands of existing schools.”

Heads of schools, John Mahama stated, will be given free hands to take charge of their schools and be held to account for the academic performance of their students.

He said, “They can not do this under harassment, intimidation, and resource constraints as experienced now. The NDC will resource the schools and restore the dignity of the school heads and their teachers.”

Source: Adovor Nutifafa
dovor100@gmail.com

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