14.09.2021 Article

Rethinking Basic, Middle, and Secondary Education in Ghana: What is the purpose of education in Ghana today?

By Dr. Augustine M. Amenyah
Rethinking Basic, Middle, and Secondary Education in Ghana: What is the purpose of education in Ghana today?
LISTEN SEP 14, 2021

Enter the CPP Education Reforms (1951-1966)

To answer this question, we turn to the various education policy initiatives that have been adopted by successive governments since independence in 1957. The goal of the Nkrumah government was accelerated industrial development and literacy education for all. To this end the Nkrumah government established various literacy programs to improve the literacy skills of Ghanaians. Night schools were established, the Information Ministry also used theater and short films to educate the masses on government programs. In addition, the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation established the Languages Division, where programming in local languages were carried out successfully. The second phase of Nkrumah’s education policy was industrial and trade education. To this end scholarships were awarded for Ghanaians to be trained abroad in Vocational and Technical Education. In addition, the Nkrumah government accelerated the development of vocational and technical education through the Ministry of Rural and Community Development schools and training programs in the various regions. The third phase of the Nkrumah Government’s education policy was the establishment of Government secondary schools. To Nkrumah, basic education and literacy were forerunners to economic and social development hence he expanded existing basic and secondary school infrastructure. He believed in an egalitarian society and hence every child should have the legal rights to free and compulsory basic education. Nkrumah saw education as a unifying factor and a resolution of conflicts in post-independent Ghana.

Enter the NLC Education Reforms (1966-1969)

The education policy of the National Liberation Council after the overthrow of the Nkrumah government can best be described “as cut cost where possible and slow down the expansion of secondary and technical education.” The NLC reduced the 10-year compulsory primary system to 8 years of primary education. For its short stay in power not much can be said of its effect on the education policy of Ghana.

Enter the New Structure and Content of Education of 1974 (NSCE-Dzobo Committee Report)

The goal of the NSCE policy was to realign education to the ideals of a modern society. To this end the reforms broadly embraced agriculture, vocational and technical education. The aim was to shift the focus of education away from academic subjects to employable skills in industry, technical and vocational skills. Though laudable the reform took many years to implement. In particular, the link between school and industry was non-existent as the few industries available were struggling to stay in business. The science and vocational laboratories lacked equipment and teachers were not trained to fill the new classrooms. Once again technical and vocational education failed to appeal to parents and students alike as the way forward for further development of agriculture, skilled trades were relegated partly because of poor infrastructure for TVET.

Enter the Education Reforms of 2007 (Anamoah-Mensah Report)

The John Agyekum Kuffour government’s underlying education vision was the formation of capital for industrial growth, preservation of cultural identity, indigenous curriculum with instruction in the local languages at the kindergarten level and improvement in STEM education. This vision was no different from that of Kwame Nkrumah (1951-1966).

It is painful that after many years of self-rule, education in Ghana is at crossroads with respect to workforce development. Today, over 20,000 graduates of Senior Secondary Schools, Colleges and Universities have no jobs. This must change as the agitations of the unemployed can lead to political instability and social conflicts.

The educational vision by all successive governments has been the same. Equity, Access, Egalitarianism, Agricultural Development, Economic Development, Cultural Identity, and Social Development. Above all the goal was to deemphasize reliance on the English Grammar school academic system and instead promote STEM and TVET.

What is missing today is not an educational vision for Ghana but how to translate the vision to curricula content, effective teaching methods, and student learning. Education should reflect the cultural values and aspirations of a society. The current education system in Ghana surprisingly is not meeting the needs of the society clamoring for change (Graduate unemployment). This has led some with good financial resources to educate their children in private schools and colleges.

Suggestions for Improvement of TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training).

Establish specialized TVET training programs within existing schools, colleges, and universities. Every content area must be linked to a workforce development program through work-study or apprenticeship. In Ghana, separate TVET centers have not worked because every student wants to study in a college or university campus. The polytechnics have now become technical universities, so it is only appropriate that workforce development programs are done under the rubrics of colleges and universities.

Curriculum Reform

Basic and secondary school curriculum reforms should be done to link course content and work. For example, the student learning agriculture must be made aware of the related industries in agriculture where he or she can apply skills learned. The student learning physics, and mathematics should be exposed to workplaces where physics and mathematics constitute core areas of work in relation to industry. The hope is to establish a pipeline of employable skills.

School and Industry Collaboration

Colleges and Universities should establish formal knowledge cooperative agreements with industries and should be given tax incentives for workforce development of the number of students trained.

Workforce Educators

Recruit from industry workforce educators to train and educate students. Secondly, establish a pipeline of educators from retired industry professionals with practical experience to train and educate students.

As a country Ghana has sought to link schooling and industry without success. Various education reforms have been undertaken to correct the imbalance, but progress has been slow. A rethinking of education and workforce development is here advocated.

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