It is evident that the Ghanaian educational system among other things lacks the needed quality and monitoring of performance.
At the centre of poor performance by students is the issue of inadequate teacher motivation. Low remuneration and poor conditions of service which hinder our teachers from delivering quality service.
In addition to financial rewards, capacity building training will be helpful and recipients must justify investments made in them by passing prescribed training tests.
We need to make our teachers feel proud of their profession rather than perceive it as a means to an end. This remains the only way we can attract more and solve the problem of manpower shortage/inadequacy in this sector.
We must build houses for our teachers or make it possible for them to own homes as part of improvement in educational facilities countrywide.
Investing over 20 per cent of our national budget in education is quite significant and it is expected that this translates into impressive results. Unfortunately, this is not the case. BECE results have been disappointing with the number of failures increasing every year.
Over the past decade, a total of 1,562,270 students failed their BECE examinations out of a total number of 3,669,138 representing almost 50 per cent. A few weeks ago, it was reported that over 70 per cent of students in the northern part of the country cannot read. Many of them will join the ranks of the chronic unemployed.
Employers both private and public have had cause to complain about the fact that they have to re-train graduates from the tertiary institutions to equip them with analytical and language skills. We cannot benefit from petrochemicals, knowledge-based and technology based industries with such an educational profile.
It is obvious that our education system lacks the quality it deserves and this is worrying.
The Teaching profession must be made attractive. As a matter of priority, we must enhance and upgrade our Teacher Training Colleges to become real places of choice that can compete with other higher learning institutions for the best students.
Some argue that lawyers, medical doctors and engineers work in specialised fields and should earn more than teachers. But it is the teacher who gave these specialists the knowledge and head start. So let's give the teacher his/her due.
When we consider the trend in many foreign countries that today, are economically resilient, we learn that they did not only give free compulsory education but they also invested in the human resource who delivers the training – the teachers.
In Korea, a four-year educational study at a teacher's university is required for those who wish to teach in elementary schools. We can also upgrade teacher training colleges into universities and improve facilities and equipment. We need to make teaching attractive. Along with it must come enhanced take-home pay and related incentives.
Even in Accra, there are many schools that cannot boast of decent teaching and learning environments. The environment in which teaching is delivered is equally crucial in achieving quality. There is enormous pressure on facilities as many teachers and students compete for limited classroom spaces.
This does not allow for better teaching and learning. Library facilities are hardly found in many of our basic schools, talk less of internet facilities.
Even new school blocks fail to make provision for playgrounds, creative art departments, etc. Access to up to date text books in many basic schools is more of a privilege than necessity. All these must change if we want to achieve quality.
Statistics show that the gender gap in schools is gradually closing up but the challenge now is to ensure that investments made in education translates into good results.
To this effect, we must enforce the monitoring and supervisory bodies in the education sector at all levels to ensure that knowledge is impacted the way it should. This team should be made answerable to government when students' performance is not impressive and this should have a bearing on their career. We need to treat this business of education as real business, holding people accountable for their actions and inactions.
Also linked to quality is the problem faced by industry players over inadequate skilled manpower to meet current industry demands. In the cases where there is adequacy, the quality is suspect.
There is a lot of rush in and out of the various schools with students learning for examination purposes only. This trend is even being extended to our tertiary schools and the result is obvious.
We are producing people with little problem solving skills and slow analytical minds. There is need to decisively deal with this phenomenon if we aim to improve the quality of human capital in Ghana.
We must as a nation put the teacher at the centre of any plan or policy to improve the quality of education. When the teacher is well-resourced with the right facilities and equipment, the entire system will benefit and our children will become better educated.
“Provide Quality Education for Every Ghanaian Child. Standardise school facilities from kindergarten to Senior High School with libraries, classrooms, kitchen, housing for teachers, playground, etc: and Ensure free, compulsory and continuous education in public schools from kindergarten to Senior High School (including computer training).
We will deploy an “Education Police” to enforce the compulsory aspect of our policy.
An integral part of this, will be an objective to significantly increase vocational training so that all school leavers gain employable skills. This will include a comprehensive sports programme to instill discipline and promote better health”.
- The writer is the flag bearer of the Progressive People's Party for the 2012 elections.