On January 17, 2002, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government of John Agyekum Kufour inaugurated a Presidential Committee on Review of Education Reforms in Ghana. The committee was under the chairmanship of Professor Jophus Anamuah-Mensah, Vice-Chancellor of University of Education, Winneba. The committee presented its report in October 2002.
The committee was made up of 20 people. Some other members are Messrs Gerald Annan- Forson and Mr. Kosi Kedem.
THE TASK OF THE COMMITTEE.
It was tasked to review the entire educational system in the country with the view to making it responsive to current challenges. The underlying factors for the introduction of the current Junior High and Senior High School reforms were to address the inadequacies and shortcomings in the previous reforms.
The reform was also introduced for the following: formation of human capital for industrial growth and for ensuring competitiveness in the global economy; ability to make use of recent developments in Science and Technology, especially Information and Communication Technology (ICT); radical transformation in the field of work and employment; and the preservation of cultural identity and traditional indigenous knowledge and creativity. The reform was intended to ensuring 100 percent access to basic education, placing high premium on technical/vocational education and training and improving the quality of instruction and making it flexible enough to accommodate diverse student abilities.
THE WORK / RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE COMMITTEE.
1. Universal Basic Education shall now be 11 years, made up of:
o 2 years of Kindergarten
o 6 years of Primary School
o 3 years of Junior High School (JHS)
2. After JHS, students may choose to go into different streams at Senior High School (SHS), comprising General Education and Technical, Vocational and Agricultural and Training (TVET) or enter into an apprenticeship scheme with some support from the Government.
3. A new 4-year SHS will offer General Education with electives in General, Business, Technical, Vocational and Agriculture options for entry into a tertiary institution or the job market.
4. Technical, Vocational and Agricultural Institutions will offer 4-year courses including the core SHS subjects.
5. The medium of instruction in Kindergarten and Lower Primary will be a Ghanaian language and English.
6. At the basic level, emphasis shall be on Literacy, Numeracy, Creative Arts and Problem Solving Skills.
7. Teacher Training Colleges will be upgraded and conditions of service of teachers improved, with special incentives for teachers in rural areas.
8. Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) shall be responsible for the infrastructure, supervision and monitoring of Basic and Senior High Schools.
9. A new National Inspectorate Board (NIB) outside the Ghana Education Service (GES) but under the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports (MOESS) shall be responsible for periodic inspection of Basic and Secondary Schools to ensure quality education.
10. Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) and cost-sharing at the senior high and tertiary levels shall be maintained.
11. Educational services will be widened to include Library and Information, Guidance and Counselling and Distance Education.
12. The Private Sector will be encouraged to increase its participation in the provision of educational services.
13. Greater emphasis will be put on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Science and Technology.
14. Special Needs Education will be improved at all levels.
NB: A CAREFUL STUDY OF POINT 10 &12 SHOWS THAT THE NPP ADMINISTRATION AT THE TIME DID NOT SEE 'FREE EDUCATION' AT SHS LEVEL AS SIGNIFICANT.
ACHIEVEMENTS OF THE REFORMS.
The introduction of ICT into the curriculum has been a welcoming one consifering the quest of the country to develop technologically.
Also, the inclusion of 2- years Kindergarten into the primary education has been welcomed by parents and other stakeholders of education.
The call for private sector to participate in the provision of educational services has seen a great boost as more private people have opened Senior High Schools and Universities throughout the country. These have actually helped the country so much.
The call for upgrading of teachers had made the University of Cape Coast and the University of Education to fast tract massive Distance Education programmes for teachers throughout the country.
Furthermore, the call for improving the needs for Special Education has received applause from educational stakeholders.
Finally, the call for Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to take the role of government in the provision of infrastructure, supervision and monitoring of Basic and Senior High Schools has made it possible for schools to get support much more easily than previously.
CHALLENGES OF THE ANAMUAH-MENSAH COMMITTEE.
Basically, the challenges of the committee have been laid on the Kuffour led administration's political twist to the recommendations that was presented by the 20-member committee.
In the first place, committee was not consulted by government before the cabinet decision to make English language the medium of instruction at all levels. Mr Kosi Kedem, Minority Spokesman on Education and member of the Committee disclosed. Some stakeholders in education reacted that the policy statement as decided by cabinet, could impact negatively on the teaching and learning of the school-going child. The old policy of 1971 outlined that at the lower primary level, pupils should be instructed in their local language.
Upon assumption of power, the NDC government decided go back to the old report that outlined the use of Ghanaian language in the lower primary level.
Secondly, even though members of the review committee set¬tled for the maintenance of the three-year SHS programme after deliberations, it was nonetheless pushed to four years. Prof Anamuah-Mensah said the com¬mittee, after looking at the two options of a three-year and a four-year duration for the SHS, settled on the three-year duration, with a caveat that infrastructure and resources would be devoted to the educa¬tional sector, particularly from the kinder¬garten, the primary to the junior high school
Currently, the NDC government decided to reverse the duration to three years upon assumption of power in January 2009, and that has also brought its attendants debate in which the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) and the Conference of Heads of Assisted Senior High Schools (CHASS) have taken opposing stands on the future duration of the SHS programme.
Furthermore, even though the chairman of the 20-member Committee, Prof Jophus Anamuah-Mensah, has confirmed that the committee recommended the teaching of Religious and Moral Education (RME) as a subject, RME was deleted from the school curriculum when it was implemented. This sparked off controversy, with the Catholic Bishops Conference issuing a strongly-worded pastoral letter calling for the re-introduction of the subject.
The NPP government upon further consideration decided to re-introduce the subject into the curriculum.
Other eminent problem was the delay in the supply of syllabuses and textbooks for the smooth take-off of the programme, and teachers were not adequately prepared in terms of training to implement the reforms.
Inadequate classrooms and other facilities as students will enter the fourth year of Senior High School in September 2010 also presented a huge challenge. This forced the Prof Mill's lead administration to embark on massive infrastructure to cater for the fourth year class in 2010.
Finally, on a litter note, the committee said it did not recommend that a change of name in our pre-tertiary educational levels. However, the government decided to change the name from Senior Secondary School (SSS) to Senior High School (SHS) as well as Junior Secondary School (JSS) to Junior High School (JHS). This also sparked so much debate from stake-holders of education in the country.
The work of the commission has nonetheless introduced the learning of ICT in all levels of the pre-tertiary education in Ghana. It has been established that, if the government of the time had implemented the recommendations of the committee, most of the challenges would have been avoided. However, efforts by the government to consult and implement the right recommendations are in the right direction and have received commendations from stakeholders of education.
FRANCIS MIKE ESHUN
P.O. BOX 54,