19.10.2004 Education

Increasing cost of education creating class society - ISODEC

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Tamale, Oct 19, Tamale, GNA - Mr Emmanuel Kuyole, a Senior Officer of ISODEC, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), at the weekend noted that the increasing cost of education in the country was creating a class society.

He expressed worry that poor parents had to send their children to poorly endowed educational institutions, which were inadequately staffed with teachers.

Mr Kuyole, who was speaking at the launch of the IBIS Education for Empowerment Programme at Tamale on Saturday, said the educational sector was "riddled with growing inequalities, with people in the rural areas seriously disadvantaged as compared to those in the urban areas". Participants were drawn from stakeholders in education and representatives from the Liberian Refugee camp at Budburam in the Central Region.

He observed that girls had less access to quality education in the public sector as compared to private schools, and that statistics indicated that poverty, ignorance, obsolete traditional practices and cost recovery policy affected the development of education in the country.

Mr Kuyole said the situation in Northern Ghana was even worse, with 19 per cent of pupils generally out of school and " at least 30 per cent of children are known to be out of school in Northern Ghana". He said a mapping out exercise carried out by the Northern Network for Education Development, an NGO based in the Northern part of the country, showed that at least 50 per cent of children in the deprived and inaccessible areas were not attending school.

He said the study also revealed that about 20 to 30 per cent of those who were enrolled in the area dropped out of school before they reached their sixth year with three quarters of them being girls. Mr Kuyole appealed to the government to abolish the payment of user fees in basic education to give real meaning to the Free Basic and Compulsory Education.

Nana Kyei-Baffour, an Assistant Director of Education at the Tamale Regional Office, said statistics indicated that in the Bole District, 50.40 per cent boys and 61.30 per cent girls were not in school, while in the East Gonja District, 20.90 per cent of boys and 47.80 per cent of girls between the ages of six and eleven were out of school. Madam W. Ayishetu, an educationist in the East Gonja District, said culture and ignorance contributed to set backs to education in the area, and expressed disappointment that the people could betroth their daughters to men immediately after birth.

She also said some communities were unfriendly towards teachers and educational authorities while the "Overseas areas" were inaccessible making supervision of teaching difficult.

Mr Abu Bakata, the Northern Regional secretary of the Ghana National Association of Teachers, blamed the falling standards of education in the Northern Region partly on truant teachers who engaged in economic activities during working hours.

Mr Moses Baah, a former Liberian Minister of Education, now at the Buduburam Camp, briefed participants on the status of education in the camp and said schools in the area were congested. He said efforts were being made to re-orient the students there to enable them to fit into the Liberian Society when they finally return to their country.

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