Mr Samuel Bannerman-Mensah, Director-General of the Ghana Education Service (GES), has noted that the acquisition and use of the English language was pivotal for a meaningful headway in any academic or intellectual pursuit.
He observed that the fallen educational standard in the country was as a result of the downward trend in the use of the English language.
Mr Bannerman-Mensah was speaking at a national forum on the falling standard of education in the country for more than 200 directors of education, heads of Senior High Schools (SHS) and heads of English Department in SHS in the Ashanti Region in Kumasi on Tuesday.
He revealed that the 2007 National Education Assessment (NEA) report on basic schools indicated that the pupils performed poorly in both the English language and mathematics.
He said a report from the West African Examination Council (WAEC) also stated that “most of the candidates were not able to express themselves clearly and logically and that their command of the English language was woefully poor”.
Mr Bannerman-Mensah attributed some of the poor performance of students in the English language to teachers' attitude to the teaching of the language, large number of students in a class and poor grounding in grammar particularly in basic mechanics.
He, however, said with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the GES has put in place a National Literacy Acquisition Programme (NALAP), which he explained was aimed at encouraging the kindergarten to primary three pupils to acquire literacy skills in their local languages.
This, the Director-General said would greatly enhance the teaching and learning of the English language in primary four to JHS.
Professor Naa Afarley Sackeyfio, an English language consultant, noted that parents were morally obliged to give their children the right type of reading materials to enable them cultivate reading habits.
She blamed teachers for not doing much to help their pupils and students to learn and use the language, saying, “the English language is a foreign language that can only be learnt with deliberate effort”.
Prof Sackeyfio urged teachers to effect the right changes in their English teaching approach and methodology to arrest the falling standard of the language.
Mr Joseph Kwabena Onyinah, the Ashanti Regional Director of Education, who presided, was optimistic that the participants would source concrete proposals that would address the downward slide of the English language.