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21.09.2021 Feature Article

Is Basic Education A Right Or A Favor Done To The Ghanaian Child?

Is Basic Education A Right Or A Favor Done To The Ghanaian Child?
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Putting up a public basic school appears to be doing children a favor. The public basic school structure does not take the total ‘human’ development of the child into consideration. It is more of a place secluded from the community where the children go for teachers to teach them. In this modern era, a public basic school is commissioned without a library, workspaces for certain subjects like Creative Arts, Science, among others. In some cases, there are no toilet facilities for students as part of the original plan. It takes the intervention of the school administration to provide toilet facilities. It looks like there is no national standard set for what a public basic school should be and look like.

More than half of the public basic schools were provided by church organizations. Recently, basic school structures are being provided by Members of Parliament, philanthropists, NGOs, the Parent-Teacher Association, among others. In most cases, they provide within their means with the expectation that the government through the assembly will support and maintain later which does not happen. This leaves broken furniture unfixed, leading to situations where students are found carrying their own furniture to school or sitting on cement blocks, or in the very worst-case scenario sit on the floor. This may prompt the question regarding the use of the capitation grant. When the government also provides school blocks through the assemblies, there is no higher standard aside from the six-unit classroom block with an office for the headteacher and at times staffroom. Therefore with such ideas and standards, when an organization or a philanthropist is stepping in, they do not go beyond the six-unit classroom block. This standard of putting up a school reduces education from being a right of the child to just doing the child a favor.

Some of the public basic schools with these facilities were provided by telecommunication, mining companies, and other corporations fulfilling their social responsibilities. The Parent-Teacher Association sometimes does provide some of these facilities. Without them, the state does not seem to know that all public basic schools need such facilities.

A public basic school (even the primary school) should have a well-resourced staff room. A country does not need to be developed before it could and should provide at least a desktop computer on the desk of every teacher in the school. In this case, the computer belongs to the school and any teacher who comes to work in the school can make use of it. This is better than organizing workshops for some selected teachers, then giving them laptops with no definition of ownership and when they go on transfer they take it along or where the government is giving laptops to every teacher. Their personal computers should be purchased at their own personal cost. Supply these laptops to the schools. Put them on the desk of teachers. They use it when they come to school. When transferred, they leave it for the newly posted teacher to use.

Should it be difficult for the government to provide each school a printer and common stationery for teachers to work effectively? This will in a way solve the problem where sometimes teachers have to use their own money to buy some teaching materials. These are some of the things teacher unions should be addressing. They should be proactive in drawing the attention of the state to basic things put in place to ensure the efficiency of teachers and the attractiveness of the profession.

A well-structured standard of what a basic school should be will even help reduce the unemployment rate in the country and minimize mushrooming of ’unsafe’ structures erected as schools. Imagine each basic school having a miniature sickbay with a non-teaching staff nurse, how many nurses will be employed across the country? Even if libraries cannot be provided for all the basic schools, at least each town should have a well-furnished library serving the schools in terms of its being roped into students` academic life. How many librarians will be employed? If other facilities are provided in the basic school, it will not just enhance and enrich teaching and learning but become a means to increase employment in the country.

If the government can have an architectural plan for the Agenda 111 hospitals, then such a move can equally be initiated for what a public basic school should look like. It should not be just classrooms, office for the headteacher and staff room but at least should include a library, computer room, workspaces for Creative Arts, Basic Design and Technology, Science among others. This way, basic education will be more of a right than just looking like a mere favor done to the Ghanaian child.

Okota-Wilson Nicholas

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