Bolgatanga, Dec.14, GNA- Mr Mahama Ayariga, Deputy Minister of Education, on Monday outlined innovative measures employed by government to improve on the performance of pupils at the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) in the three northern regions.
The new programme, which would be on pilot bases and beginning with the present Junior Secondary School (JSS) candidates would seek to clear the backlog of lost contact hours by providing extra two hour tuition after close of normal classes for them. Additional six hours would be made available for teaching and learning on Saturdays.
Some schools would be clustered under the programme for the purposes of providing electricity for the pupils to learn during night sessions while security personnel would be engaged at these clustered centres to ensure that the candidates were fully protected.
Mr Mahama announced the new measures at a sensitization durbar in Bolgatanga to begin a three-day working visit to the Upper East Region.
The Deputy Minister used the occasion to address teachers, school children, chiefs and opinion leaders, School Management Committees (SMCs) and District Oversight Committee Members (DIOC) at various sessions in the Talensi-Nabdam and Bongo districts and the Bolgatanga Municipality on the first day of the visit and lamented the poor level of performance of children at the basic level.
He noted that out of 163 schools that participated in the 2010/11 BECE, the Bolgatanga Municipality ranked 134, the Talensi-Nabdam and Bongo districts ranked 122 and 92 respectively and said the problems of under development would be a thing of the past if countries invested in the fortunes of their children.
According to him, the results observed from the last three years have been poor and called on stakeholders in education to work hard to raise the image of the Region and the human resource base of the country.
He noted that to be successful in the quest to improve on education at the foundation level, it was incumbent on all to ensure that the requisite resources were made available for teaching and learning.
He cited for example that teachers should spend time on their tasks, while traditional authorities, SMCs and Parents should ensure that schools within their jurisdictions collaborated effectively to raise academic standards.
He said evidence showed that teachers' refusal to take postings to rural areas and teacher absenteeism resulted in children's poor performance in remote areas.
In view of this, he said government was recruiting 700 volunteer teachers as part of measures to address the problem of shortage of teachers and improve teaching and learning in schools in the Region.
Mr Ayariga said a training and orientation manual was being developed to build the capacities of serving teachers together with long service teachers who may have left school many years ago to learn new pedagogical methods.
To curb some of the anticipated challenges, the Deputy Minister said measures were in place to arrange for transport with Senior Secondary schools that have buses to convey teachers who cover long distances to schools to ensure they report early to teach.
He said the Ministry of Education in partnership with the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Ministry of Local Government were planning to provide one free lunch a day after the daily school sessions and at weekends for the children to stay on and study.
He particularly tasked traditional authorities, opinion leaders, parents and the SMCs “to enforce those factors outside the control of teachers “such as children spending time at funerals, dances and watching movies and television”.
Mr Ayariga asked DIOCs, SMCs and Chiefs to constantly visit and monitor the schools and the children to ensure that they received quality tuition.
During open forum, some teachers raised concerns about parents forcing school managements and teachers to promote their wards even when these pupils under performed in their terminal examinations.
They also mentioned under supply of teaching and learning materials (TLMs) in some schools and the inability to have access to the Chief Examiner's reports to determine performance and challenges to teaching and learning.