Education Bill before Parliament soon
The Vice-President, Mr John Dramani Mahama, has said that the Colleges of Education Bill will be presented to Parliament soon.
The bill, when passed, is expected to give colleges of education the necessary legal framework to enable them to operate as full tertiary institutions.
At the first congregation of the St. John Bosco's College of Education at Navrongo in the Upper East Region, the Vice-President said the government was leaving no stone unturned to restructure and revamp the educational sector in order to meet the manpower requirements of the nation.
He said the main focus of the government was to implement the education strategic plan, which, among the other things, sought to address the challenges in the management structure and content of education.
According to him, a lot of interventions had been put in the 2010 Budget Statement to address most of these challenges.
He said, for example, that the government was seriously pursuing the full conversion of the 38 Colleges of Education into tertiary institutions.
Vice-President Mahama said, as a first step, interim councils would be appointed to oversee the transition of these colleges into tertiary institutions, adding that the GETFund would also step up support for these tertiary institutions to complete their projects and start new ones to ensure that they were fully ready in terms of infrastructure to assume the responsibility that would be placed on them.
In 2004, teacher training colleges in Ghana were given the mandate to run the Diploma in Basic Education Programme. This was followed by the institutional accreditation of 38 public and one private teacher training colleges in August2007.
The colleges were thus designated Colleges of Education and regarded as tertiary institutions. Since then, the colleges had been waiting for a bill to be passed in Parliament to give them the necessary legal framework to operate as full tertiary institutions.
The Vice-President said teachers in rural areas who were pursuing distance education programmes would benefit from GH¢100 government assistance annually, while Science and Mathematics teachers would also continue to enjoy three incremental credits on their respective ranks.
He indicated that the government was also reviewing the vexed issue of study leave to see how it could be made transparent, fair and equitable.
He also disclosed that the legislation for the establishment of the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA), a policy initiative designed to put more resources into the north and open up opportunity to help close the development gap between the north and the south, was ready and would be presented to the current session of Parliament, in the hope that it would be passed.
He said even before the SADA legislation was passed, the government had received pledges from international organisations and donors in excess of $100 million.
The Upper East Regional Minister, Mr Mark Woyongo, commended the past and present leadership of the college and all other stakeholders who had worked to bring the college this far.
He disclosed that as part of efforts to address the infrastructural needs of the college, work would soon begin on a three-storey flat for tutors, while the contract for the principal's bungalow had been awarded.
The Principal of the College, Mr Alfred Abugre Ndago, called for the resourcing of colleges of education in the north now, to prevent them from collapsing in the future.
He, however, bemoaned the situation where the northern colleges were usually lumped together and treated the same way as their southern counterparts who were more endowed by virtue of their geographical location and years of support.
"Any development agenda for Colleges of Education in the north, must be well informed by the educational and poverty gaps between the north and the south," he said.
He also challenged the government to pay close attention to teacher education, since of late, the northern colleges were registering a dip in academic performance compared to their counterparts in the south.
"It is clear that the three northern regions are the poorest in Ghana with about nine out of 10 people earning less than $1 a day. Parents under such poor condition can hardly make any significant contributions to the education process by paying fees promptly and providing teaching and learning materials to their children."