Zuarungu (U/E), April 29, GNA - Action Aid-Ghana (AAG), a British non-governmental organization (NGO) last year, spent more than 45.8 billion cedis to undertake various development programmes in five regions of the country.
Out of the amount, 20.8 billion cedis went into basic education, including HIV/AIDS education, 8.1 billion cedis was allocated to agriculture and food security and 7.3 billion cedis was used to strengthen local government decentralization and good governance. Action Aid-Ghana, which works in some districts of the Greater Accra, Brong-Ahafo, Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions, during the year under review, also spent more than four billion cedis on gender and street children, whilst 1.6 billion cedis went into emergency relief, regional initiatives and other programmes.
These were contained in the 2003 annual report of Action Aid-Ghana published in February this year. On the state of public education in rural communities in the five regions, the report notes that high teacher absenteeism, poor commitment on the part of teachers and school authorities, lack of basic logistics as well as ineffective teaching and supervision are the greatest challenges responsible for falling standards in education.
" These factors translate into a widening gap between the performance in rural and urban schools. Besides, management of schools is hindered by weak administrative systems and lack of clear school performance plans", thus resulting in conflicting management roles, lack of accountability and weak community participation in schools supervision.
According to the report, it was to address these problems that the NGO spent almost 50 per cent of its development budget on improving upon the quality of basic education through the training service of teachers and school management committees.
Besides, AAG undertook collaborative educational activities with the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to raise public awareness on the constitutional right to basic education. AAG commended government for its high sense of commitment to the decentralization process in order to broaden citizen's participation in development, but noted that a lot more work needs to be done to pass on more power to the people.
It thus, indicated its readiness to support the process through the training of local government authorities, increasing women's participation in local governance and encouraging public involvement and debate on decentralization issues.
On the HIV/AIDS pandemic, AAG said it would continue to support government efforts to integrate concerns about the disease into development plans as well as promote the rights of people with the disease, since these people play a critical role in influencing behaviour change.
The report concluded that poverty remains the main obstacle to sustainable development and genuine efforts to guarantee the fundamental human rights of the people, and thus stressed AAG's commitment to "working with poor people to realize their rights and live a life of dignity".