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12.02.2010 General News

Issues concerning education in Ghana

12.02.2010 LISTEN
By Kwame Baah-Gyimah, Phd, Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA - Ghanaian Chronicle

There are myriads of problems confronting education in Ghana. These problems have to be fixed for the sake of the young, especially those in K-12 schools and for those unborn. Several education reform efforts have been initiated over the years aimed at finding lasting solutions to problems concerning education in Ghana.

In spite of that Ghana education is perceived to be still overwhelmed with insurmountable problems. Conscious of the foregoing, the current NDC administration and the Ghana Education Service in its first year organised a National Education Forum.

Ostensibly this forum was to brainstorm some educational issues, not the least of which is the Government's avowed intent to change the duration of second cycle education.

Following in the wake of the forum the vice-president announced another conference/meeting of political parties to find solutions to Ghana's educational woes. This meeting, if it happens will be the second such meeting of H. E. President John Atta Mills' NDC led Government'. And this government will be only one year old.

The main thrust of this paper is about aspects of past and present developments in education: the attitude of politicians in government when it comes to solving problems in Ghana education - the unproductive manner in which time is wasted on frivolous issues which tend to be of no educational value to those yearning for answers - education reform efforts of successive governments, and how such efforts have often failed to yield productive educational outcomes because of poor implementation.

Additionally, focus will be directed at the unnecessary preoccupation of the current government about which labels to use for the last three years of Basic Education and second cycle schools; and the duration of second cycle education.

It is the view of this writer that the over-politicisation of educational matters in Ghana must be stopped. It is common knowledge that the art of governance is complex and uneasy. Be that as it may, the task oftentimes becomes much more tedious, confused, and unproductive especially to the majority of the less educated, and minors at the receiving end of what politicians prescribe.

This happens when a government allows political considerations to blur its vision of effectively working to attain enduring policies. In the process, unfortunately, governments resign themselves and resort to distractive coping techniques to resolve problems. in this manner ad hoc mechanisms become the modus operandi – albeit an aid to help governments muddle through their eight or nineteen years rule (as was the case in the PNDC/NDC Rawlings administration).

Governments thereby leave office without resolving the fundamentally crucial issues bedevilling the development of education in Ghana. Is it not mind boggling that a government which is barely a year in office should spent time, money and the resource of educational experts, and the general public on an educational forum primarily to determine the following issues:

1. The duration of Senior Secondary/High Schools—4 years as we had it under the NPP Government under President J. A. Kufuor or 3 years under the PNDC/NDC Government under President J. J. Rawlings.

2. The last three years of Basic Education –should it be called Junior Secondary School as recommended in the Dzobo (New Content and Structure of Education in Ghana, 1972), adopted by NPP Government under President J. A. Kufuor, or called Junior High School as we had it under President J. J. Rawlings?

3 The second cycle of K-12 education --should it be called Senior Secondary School as recommended in the Dzobo Education Reforms (New Structure and Content of Education in Ghana,1972 ), adopted by the NPP Government under President J. A. Kufuor, or Senior High School as we had it under the NDC rule of President J. J. Rawlings?

The resolution of the above will be decided by an Act of Parliament.

And as if this is not enough, about a year and one month into the administration of the NDC Government under President Atta Mills the Vice President has hinted that members of the nation's political parties should ready themselves for an all- parties Conference on Education. And this will be, in all probability, another diversion for Ghanaians who anxiously wait for government action to redeem the educational woes facing the nation.

SIMPLY RIDICULOUS
Come to think of it, is it not simply ridiculous that over thirty years (1972 to date) when the Dzobo Education Report was published to this day, in the 21st Century, when it comes to education labels for its K-12 schools, Ghanaians find themselves in the doldrums and confused what to call the last three years of it's Basic Education and the second cycle of it's education system.

Additionally, it has taken Ghanaians thirty years and over, and we are not decided yet how many years students in our second cycle schools should spend to graduate.

When the PNDC/NDC (1981 – 2000) part military part civilian administration of Flight Lieutenant / PNDC Chairman/ President J. J. Rawlings set out to implement the Dzobo Education Reform Proposals, 1972, (full implementation of which had been shelved for fifteen years, and not until after the Evans Anfom Reform Committee, 1987), it decided to replace the Dzobo labels of JUNIOR SECONDARY/ SENIOR SECONDARY with the JUNIOR HIGH/ SENIOR HIGH labels. Added to this was the change in the duration of second cycle education from four to three years. Then came the NPP Administration of President J. A. Kufuor, (2000-2008), and the Anamuah-Mensah Reform Committee. Again, there was a change and a return to the original Dzobo Reform proposal of JUNIOR SECONDARY/ SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOl labels.

The administration also reverted to the original Dzobo Reform Proposal of four instead of three years for second cycle schools..

And now, the new administration, barely in a year, and consistent with the NDC manifesto of 2008, and barring the unlikely rejection by parliament of President Atta Mills' NDC manifesto's preference, the descriptive labels for Junior Secondary and Senior Secondary schools will once again revert to Junior High/Senior High school labels. In the same vein the duration of second cycle education will change from four to three years.

NEEDED: A REFERENDUM?
Ghanaians pride themselves as the first African Country South of the Sahara to gain independence from British colonial rule - the first country south of the Sahara to produce a Secretary- General for the United Nations Organisation etc. etc. Yet when it comes to which of these English words: “secondary “or “high” to fit in between “Senior/ Junior”-----------------and ”School”? We are at a loss and indecisive. This record does not bestow any credit to the image of Ghana, its government and its people. Ghana could do better than this.

Maybe, at the next Parliamentary and Presidential Elections come 2012, the Electoral Commissioner should make provision on the ballot paper to enable the good people of Ghana - the electorate, to vote on this and other such contentious issues.

This would be a referendum, and it would perhaps, be an efficient way to resolve these over-politicised and contentious issues once and for all. It appears our politicians have turned this issue into an unnecessary albatross around our necks, and Ghanaians can live without it. The British colonial Government and later the CPP Government under President Kwame Nkrumah settled with the labels: Primary—Middle ---Secondary. And this worked fine for years.

In fact from 1961, the year of Dr. Nkrumah's Accelerated Development Plan through the Kwapong Education Reforms, these labels worked alright in our K -12- schools..

Up to the 1966 Kotoka /Afrifa Coup through the short lived administration of Dr. Kofi Abrefa Busia there was no change in these descriptive labels for the primary and the post -primary levels of the education system.

Then came Colonel Kutu Akyeampong's coup d e'tat and Government and the Dzobo Education reform Committee of 1972. To be continued in Monday February 15th 2010 issue

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