The Minister of Education, Hon. Kwadwo Baah Wiredu says the Ghana Education Service as an agency, cannot issue a decree that will effect change in the country's education system, without the Ministry's consent. Reacting to a publication in the Ghanaian Chronicle of Monday, 22nd March 2004 (see below), which states that the GES has sought to bring a new change into the system, in which pupils in lower primary will not be taught with textbooks anymore, the Minister said that was only a suggestion the GES has made.
Speaking to Peace fm, Mr Baah Wiredu said the proposal would have to be channelled through the GES council to the Ministry, which will subsequently be taken to parliament, for final ratification. GHANA EDUCATION SET FOR RECORD LOW Textbooks to be withdrawn from primary classes, Teachers will have to make do with 'moral instructions' The Ghana Education Service (GES) has virtually decreed that the most vulnerable group of children in the educational ladder in the country should go through the first three years of the cycle, the formative years, without textbooks. They should make do with workbooks, the virtually blank books that carry dotted caricatures and no words, or content and are primarily used for drawing. Only teachers would have resource books.
The argument presented to publishers who have been charged with producing and printing majority of textbooks locally is that the children in the classrooms do not use the textbooks, The Chronicle gathered.
The big men in the Ghana Education Service who issued these directives to a subdued assembly of the country's publishers of books last Friday did not provide clues as to those which will aid in the teaching and learning process.
Available evidence suggests that the Ghana Education Service has been dithering and vacillitating in formulating on what is in the best interest of the future leaders of tomorrow who are in worse straits now than they were a few decades ago, when the Ghana educational system was a showpiece.
First GES in a knee-jerk reaction decided they should cut the kids off from some subjects at the primary level, and then later decided that they should be included.
Now at primary level, classes one to three, they are recommending that Ghanaian languages, English language and basic mathematics do not require textbooks.
In the meantime, while this confusion reigns, teachers are already beginning to teach using a syllabus drawn up by the GES when there are no books to teach them with.
Worse still the justification for the JSS concept was that it should equip the young ones with basic education to enable them to take up apprenticeship and make a living for themselves should they be unable to go on to the tertiary level.
However there is a clear case of further diluting of what has turned out to be a disastrous experiment by merging pre-vocational studies with pre-technical skills, a recipe for anarchy as the children will not only be halfbaked, but will certainly turn out not baked at all.
The Chronicle learnt that from Primary 4, when new subjects are to be introduced to the children, there will be no for text books for environmental studies, religious and moral education, music, dance and physical education.
For their studies, the children will still not require text books, but only teachers' guides. Only the teachers will be provided with a sort of teaching manual. That is all that will be needed for Ghanaian education, Ghana style, a far cry from what pertains in less endowed African countries.
With the rampant reports of teachers offering inverted moral education with the schoolgirls across the country, the result of this shocking flight of original thinking is best left to the imagination.
“This will surely eliminate parents, brothers, uncles, relatives who help children at home with school work when they retire to their homes because there will be no books to help them with!” remarked one parent who was privy to these new directives.
At the JSS level, the 'experts' at the Ghana Education Service have also said that they are merging Agricultural Science with Science at the JSS level, further sowing seeds of confusion over the distinction between these disparate areas of academic and vocational disciplines at the most rudimentary level.
Currently the schools use textbooks. It is the same in all countries in Africa, but it appears Ghana is willing to experiment with what may plunge the nation into a new low in education.
Significantly, none of these directives will affect private schools, which are providing textbooks for every class, bar none.
This may further widen the gap between the rich and poor as titles meant for the Free Compulsory Basic Universal Education are being gobbled up by the private schools.
With the exception of the Director General of Education, Rev. Mrs. Ama Amfo Blay, almost all the top guns of the GES were present, including the Chief Director, Mr. Ato Essuman.
Also present were Mr. Nsowah, the Deputy Director General, Mrs. Agnes Vandyck, Director of the Ghana Book Development Council, Major Fianco of SPMU, the President of the Ghana Publishers Association, Ms. Akosua Ofori-Mensah, and other leading publishers, like Alhaji Jibrin of EPP books, and Mr. Eric Ofei.
It appears, these decisions were taken to cut down the massive educational budget, as finding money for the elections has become a big headache for the Government, along with other pressing demands for services, particularly in an election year.