Teaser: A leading Ghanaian educator says standards have fallen in recent years…
TIP: GHANA / FIFTY YEARS – Since gaining independence fifty years ago, Ghana has made significant strides in education. Many officials credit the improvements to past governments as well as to the current administration, headed by President John Kufuor. Together, they say, the policy initiatives have contributed to meeting the educational needs and aspirations of the Ghanaian people. But Professor Jophus Anamuah-Mensah, the vice chancellor of the University of Education in Winneba, disagrees. In the final installment of our series on fiftieth independence anniversary of Ghana, we focus on education.
At the dawn of independence, Ghana had only one university and a few primary and secondary schools. Today, there are over 12 thousand primary schools, and over one thousand junior an senior high (secondary) schools. In addition, there are over a dozen technical institutions and five universities.
Many say in comparison to other Africans, Ghanaians have ready access to education.
Professor Anamuah-Mensah said although Ghanaian education was once rated the best in Africa, in recent years it lost that status when many of the teachers left for better pay and opportunities abroad.
“Since independence, education at that time was rated as the best Africa country with the best education system because we were able to get almost everybody into the schools, and the quality of education was high. But with time the quality of education deteriorated; economic conditions were not favorable; a lot of teachers left for other Africa countries especially Nigeria,” he said.
Anamuah-Mensah said the quality of education was damaged by the exodus of Ghanaian teachers abroad. “You couldn't find enough teachers in the schools and therefore education really went down. Until 1987 we embarked upon the educational reform, which tried to address the issues, but could not because the teachers were still not around,” he said.
Anamuah-Mensah said teachers play a significant role. “In any educational system the teacher plays a critical role. If you don't have the right kind of qualified teachers and in the right numbers, you would not be able to make it. Teachers that we have in the primary schools all went through the teacher training colleges, they have certificates A. Certificate A, is not sufficient enough for these modern times,” he said.
Anamuah-Mensah said all the teachers need further education themselves. “We need to re-train all the teachers that we have and prepare them well for the new age that we have entered into. We had all those structures as we mentioned, but without the teachers to man and really help to nurture the young children to acquire the right skills and so on, we would not be able to respond positive to this. We are still behind because the teachers are not there,” Anamuah-Mensah noted.
He said the education system needs a major investment to enable Ghana regain its past glory.
“I think a lot of money should be pumped in education, because education is the mainstay of this country. We need to ensure that we provide the junior secondary and senior secondary schools with IT facilities so everybody there would be computer literate.… We need to ensure that the laboratories are there, the research departments of the universities need to be adequately funded…. I believe that if we keep on doing the right things, Ghana can regain its past glory and rub shoulders with the international world,” he said.
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