The Vice-Chancellors of the country's public universities and the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) have commended the government for its bold decision to reform the educational system and pledged their commitment to making it work.
They stated that the reforms would have a major impact on the development of human resource of the country.
Professor Jophus Anamoah-Mensah, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Education, Winneba and chairman of Vice Chancellors Ghana (VCG), an association of the Vice Chancellors of the country's public universities, made the commendation when he led his colleagues to pay a courtesy call on President John Agyekum Kufuor at the Castle, Osu, yesterday.
The commendation of GNAT, which was contained in a statement signed by its General Secretary, Mrs Irene Duncan-Adanusah, recognised the government's justification for the reforms and said that the 1987 Education Reforms had failed to meet expectation in terms of coverage, quality, equitable access and economic utility.
Prof Anamoah-Mensah said the VCG was very much interested in the reforms as they had a crucial role to play in its success, stressing, “we are committed to ensuring the success of the reforms and we will play our part well”.
He said even before the launch of the reforms last week, the Universities of Cape Coast and Education had been training teachers not only for basic and secondary school levels but for the early childhood level as well.
Prof Anamoah-Mensah said the addition of the two-year kindergarten period to the primary level of education was a good one.
He said the other universities were also involved in the training of other teachers for science and technology to meet the teaching needs of the various levels of education.
He said what the universities needed was the requisite resources, particularly science and laboratory equipment, to serve as good training grounds for science and technology teachers.
Prof Anamoah-Mensah said currently the universities were unable to meet the 60:40 admission ratio of science and humanities because enrolment in the sciences at the secondary school levels was 25 per cent.
He, therefore, suggested the setting up of scholarship schemes for both science teachers and students to whip up interest in the sciences.
President Kufuor said he was happy with the assurance from the VCG to support the reforms.
He pledged the commitment of the government to assist in whatever means possible to ensure that the universities played their part well.
He said the reforms should not be seen as a magic wand that would show immediate results as it would take some time for Ghanaians to reap the benefits.
The GNAT on its part, urged the government to come out with a specific programme for teacher motivation covering such areas as personal emolument, mortgage schemes and health and safety since teachers constituted the most critical group in the implementation of the reforms.
The statement entreated the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports to reconsider its decisions to abolish study leave with pay with effect from 2011 as that had the potential of serving as a disincentive for brilliant students wishing to choose teaching as a profession.
It said the government should also increase teacher supply, textbooks and expand classroom space, especially at the Senior High School (SHS) level in anticipation of the new reforms to be started in September, this year.
“Adequate orientation should be given to teachers currently in educational administration, who will be redeployed to teach, so that they can cope with the current curricular needs,” it added.
According to the GNAT, the government should ensure an efficient and effective decentralisation system, including financial administration, so that grants from Central Government to district assemblies and district education offices could be disbursed for smooth implementation of school programmes.
It urged the ministry to make a declaration on the status of Ghanaian students in secondary schools vis-a-vis their Anglophone West African counterparts who would be studying for three years to take the WASSSCE while Ghanaian students take four years.
The statement said the decision of the government to support those opting for apprenticeship programmes for the first year should be modified such that those who successfully sponsor themselves for the programme would be provided with tools to set themselves up.
It said public education and advocacy on Technical, Vocational Education and Training should be pursued with the government leading the way to ensure that such institutions attracted more patronage by brilliant students and also received support.
“The ministry should accelerate training of teachers for technical and vocational institutions and augment the number of teachers to meet the rising student enrolment,” it said, adding that “the much talked about plans of expanding technical-vocational education should be translated into concrete action through expanding infrastructure, equipping Technical, Vocational Education and Training workshops and incorporating entrepreneurial skills training through collaboration with industry”.
Story by Albert K. Salia