Sunyani (B/A), April 12, GNA - The government is spending an amount of GH¢ 20,208,900, over the next 12 months, to provide educational infrastructure in the Brong-Ahafo region, Mr Kwadwo Nyamekye-Marfo, the Regional Minister has disclosed.
He said in addition, the government is also embarking on the construction of classroom blocks in 19 Senior High Schools (SHS) in the region, to be completed by September this year, to cater for the four-year SHS programme.
Mr Nyamekye-Marfo disclosed this at the opening ceremony of a three-day regional education review workshop in Sunyani.
The workshop was under the theme "achievements and challenges of education delivery in Brong-Ahafo Region and the way forward", and was attended by all the municipals and districts Directors of education in the region.
The Regional Minister said aside the education infrastructure; the region was to take delivery of 4,100,581 exercise books, to be distributed to school children, indicating that a total of 717,864 exercise books and 44,000 school uniforms had already been given out to basic school children.
Mr Nyamekye-Marfo emphasized that the provision of educational infrastructure alone was not enough and could not be said to be the panacea for the numerous challenges confronting the educational sector.
"The human resource factor is also a key to improving teaching and learning", he said and stressed the need to ensure that teachers were fairly and evenly distributed.
In this respect, Mr Nyamekye-Marfo said teachers, who would accept postings to deprived areas would be paid an inducement allowance of 20 percent of their basic salaries to spur them to give off their best.
Mr Samuel Amankwah, Regional Director of education disclosed that the region had a teacher population on 19,092, which is made up of 10,678 trained teachers, representing 55.9, and 8,414 representing 44.1 untrained teachers.
He said education delivery had seen a tremendous improvement over the years, adding that, within the last four years, there has been an increase of about 20 percent in the region.
Mr Amankwah said by May 1986, Brong-Ahafo had 1,190 primary schools, 666 Junior High schools, 23 Senior High Schools, three teacher training colleges, a technical school and a forestry school.
H e said currently, the region can boast of 1,556 primary, 863 Junior High and 55 Senior High schools.
Within the same period, the region established one polytechnic at Sunyani, one technical school at Nkoranza and a vocational and technical school at Twene Amanfo in Sunyani, he said.
Mr Amankwah said enrolment levels in schools, especially at the rural areas, continued to be low, stressing that, about 20 percent of children of school going age were not in school, making the achievement of the United Nations Organization's millennium challenge goals of "education for all by 2015" a mirage.
At present, he said, the total enrolment of pupils at the basic education level stood at 552,862.
Mr Amankwah said the 15 percent dropout rate in basic schools, especially between Primary and Junior high, continued to be high, adding that, the situation was even worse between Junior High and Senior High Schools, where the dropout rate was 35 percent.
He mentioned the lack of residential accommodation for some directors, a major problem facing the education sector, citing that, eight out of the 22 districts did not have residential and office accommodations for their directorate.
Mr Amankwah said the academic performance of school children continued to fluctuate without consistent improvements, indicating that, the range of academic performance at the Basic Education Certificate Examination 2009 was too wide with the best district scoring 88.9 percent and the poorest 17.3 percent.
He said six districts scored below 50 percent while seven districts scored between 50 and below 70 percents with seven other districts scoring above 70 percent.
Mr Amankwah said over the past few months, the region had experienced student unrest at some second cycle institutions and mentioned Akumfi Ameyaw Senior High at Aworowa, Wenchi Methodist Senior High, Koase Secondary Technical High School and Techiman Senior High Schools.
To forestall the spread of the unrest, he said, the regional directorate had directed that all second cycle institutions continued to proceed on Easter holidays, while lasting solutions were being found to the situation.