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25.06.2004 Education

Education Ministry to bridge the gap between rural and urban levels

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Accra, June 25, GNA- The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, through the Ghana Education Service (GES) has set aside nine billion cedis from its allocation as a seed grant to primary schools in forty (40) deprived districts in the country with the exception of some districts in the Grater Accra region.

This grant is meant to alleviate the burden of parents in the 40 deprived districts and ensure that parents send their children to school. Payment of school levies or fees in these deprived districts would therefore be abolished by September this year.

Mr. Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, the sector Minister said this in Parliament on Friday when he was answering questions from members of the House. He explained that, this would encourage parents to send their children to school and increase enrolment in the selected districts. He said the government had released an amount of 4.4 billion cedis as scholarship for pupils and students with special needs in the forty deprived districts in the country. He stated that each deprived district would receive 111.1 million cedis with 60 per cent of the total allocation to each district to be used to support girls and the remaining for boys.

Sixty per cent of the funds would be used for primary pupils and 35 per cent for JSS students and the remaining five per cent for pupils or students with special needs, the Minister said. He called on District Chief Executives, traditional and religious bodies, and opinion leaders to help bridge the gap between the academic performance of rural and urban schools.

"We must all take personal and collective interest in providing teaching and learning materials for the schools in the rural areas and also motivate the teachers". Stephen Amoanor Kwao, NDC-Upper Manya Krobo wanted to know what plans the Ministry had to bridge the gap between the academic performance of rural and urban schools.

The Minister explained that in bridging the gap between the endowed urban centres and the deprived rural districts in terms of access and quality education, the Ministry have commenced work on the upgrading of thirty-one (31) Senior Secondary Schools (SSS) whilst work on additional 25 SSS would start this year at a cost of 52 billion cedis. Mr. Baah-Wiredu said the Ministry would complete work on the construction of 440 six-unit classroom blocks being put up in all the districts in the country. He said another 183 three-unit classroom blocks have been constructed through the Education Sector Support Programme School Upgrading (ESSP-SU) with funding from DFID. He said the components of the 183 three-nit classroom blocks include a Headteacher's office and store, staff common room a library and 4-seater KVIP.

To another question by Mr. Gershon Gbediame NDC-Nkwanta if the Ministry would consider assisting the West African Examination Council (WAEC) to set up its own printing house, the Minister said his Ministry in conjunction with the Ghana Education Service (GES) would consider such a proposal if that would solve the problem of examination questions leakage. Mr. Gbediame again wanted to know if the Minister would consider establishing a vocational/technical institution in the Nkwanta District to assist students who are not able to get admission to Senior Secondary School.

Mr. Baah-Wiredu assured him of the establishment of such institution in the district since Nkwanta have been identified as one of the districts that would benefit in that direction. Mr. Kwakye Addo NDC-Afram Plains South Constituency asked what efforts the Ministry was making to ensure additional Examination Centre at Maame Krobo or Ekye-Amanfrom in the constituency to cater for the hundreds of pupils who have to travel long distances from the southern sector of the area to Tease for the annual basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE). The Minister directed the District Director of Education for the area to write to WAEC stating the justification for a new centre and copy it to the Director Basic Education Division of the GES.