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22.11.2007 General News

Review Of Aspects Of Educational Reform, Christian Council Backs Catholic Bishops

The Christian Council of Ghana has added its voice to the call by the Catholic Bishops Conference for a review of aspects of the new educational reform and the appointment of Catholics as heads of Catholic institutions.

The council says it also supports the view that Religious and Moral Education (RME) should be a key subject in the school curriculum.

The position of the two religious bodies is premised on the interpretation of a portion of the Anamuah-Mensah Report on educational reform which states that “Religious and moral values should be inculcated in children at home and in schools” to mean that it should be taught as a subject.

The report also states that “the curriculum should emphasise the rights and responsibilities of the child and closely monitor the conduct of teachers”.

It, however, does not have any provision on the appointment of heads of religious schools from the same denomination, except for one which states that “if it is a cluster of schools or a non-unit school, then one member representing all religious organisations should be appointed from among themselves”.

Speaking to the Daily Graphic in an interview in Accra yesterday, the acting General Secretary for the CCG, Reverend Albert Kwabi, said the recommendations made by the Bishops were of immense relevance to the improvement of education in the country.

He said the criticism by the Bishops of aspects of the educational reform should not be considered as opposition to the smooth running of the educational system but an objective analysis of the current situation.

“There are times people should be serious and analyse issues critically,” he said. He further pointed out that the call for Catholics to head their educational institutions was a necessary evil.

“They have a stronger case, since these institutions were set up and are owned by them and they are, therefore, in a better position to effectively manage them,” he explained.

Reverend Kwabi said Catholics managing their schools would not be an exception, since “there are situations now where old boys and girls of schools end up being appointed as heads of those schools”.

He added that such heads knew the educational terrain in their respective schools better and were, therefore, better managers.

“We should allow the various religious persuasions to play a role in the religious upbringing of children in mission schools,” he said.

“If the Bishops Conference is sounding hard on the GES and probably the government, then it is about time we put the stakes where they belong,” he added.

Reverend Kwabi, who is also the Reverend Minister of the Gateway Baptist Church, explained that the inclusion of RME as a key subject in the school curriculum was very relevant at this time.

“Even though RME will appeal to the inner qualities of a person who has the right to accept or ignore it, teaching it would go a long way to help society to reduce the bad effects of corruption, immorality and other social vices that are eating the moral fibre of this country,” he noted.
“Unlike Chemistry, students of RME only learn the theory; the world, society and life are their laboratories,” he noted.

Reverend Kwabi, therefore, called on the government to give a hearing ear to the Bishops Conference and make conscious efforts to implement recommendations in the Anamuah-Mensah Report.

He urged all stakeholders in education to put in place the appropriate structures for the effective execution of the new educational reform.

The Catholic Bishops Conference on Monday issued a Pastoral Letter in which it criticised specific portions of the educational reform.

The Bishops called for the appointment of only Catholics as heads and assistant heads of Catholic schools and the inclusion of RME in school curriculum as a compulsory subject.

Meanwhile, explaining the position of the Catholic Church, the Most Rev Gabriel Charles Palmer-Buckle, the Accra Metropolitan Archbishop, said the church was not in a fight with the educational authorities.

He said it was only asking for the reinstatement of RME in the curriculum of the educational reform programme to ensure the proper character formation of the youth.

He said the attitude of the educational authorities in removing RME from the curriculum was a display of double standards because whereas all Ghanaians looked up to religious bodies to instil discipline, they were the same people who did not see the relevance of RME to address moral decadence.

The Most Rev Palmer-Buckle said although the educational institutions belonging to religious bodies were considered the best and everybody, including policy makers, clamoured for places for their children in those schools, they were unable to place any premium on moral training.

He said the church was against the teaching of only concepts of RME in the schools and asked all stakeholders not to see the matter as the concern of religious bodies alone but a national issue for the holistic transformation of the youth.

Story by Precious Koranteng-Agyei