Sunyani (B/A) Feb. 20 GNA - Professor Kwesi Andam, Vice-Chancellor of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi at the weekend reiterated the need for a second look at the country's secondary school system.
"It is clear that general reading has almost disappeared from our curricula", he said and noted that students of Senior Secondary Schools are only learning to pass examinations and the result has been the turning out of half-baked graduates.
Prof. Andam was speaking at the 45th Anniversary and Speech and Prize-Giving Day of Sunyani Senior Secondary School (SUSEC) in in Sunyani.
His theme was, "Senior Secondary School Education - 14 Years of Reforms, the Way Forward".
The Vice Chancellor referred to President Kufuor's State of the Nation address in which the SSS system is to be transformed to offer four different strands comprising technical, agriculture, vocational and grammar type of education.
"It is hoped that by this new system the child who graduates from the secondary school will be equipped with the necessary skills needed to start a trade if he/she is unable to continue to the tertiary level", he said.
Professor Andam expressed regret that the hope that the Junior and Senior Secondary School education system would enable the students to acquire enough technical skills with which to start a trade or business had not been realized because of lack of needed logistics.
Touching on the history of the country's educational system, The Vice Chancellor noted that successive governments after the fall of the First Republic adopted an "innocuous" stance to the sector, although they did not discard the agenda of education altogether.
He explained that on the demise of the First Republican Constitution ensuing governments adopted "a hidden lukewarm approach towards education".
"The total effect of this lukewarm attitude was that the governments pretended education was their prime concern, but in effect preferred other developmental schedules to boost their political successes at their constituency base and this has had a cumulative destructive effect on education", Prof Andam added.
Prof. Andam noted that there are insufficient schools from primary, Junior and Senior Secondary up to the Tertiary levels, neglect of maintenance of existing educational building stock, a fall in quality of education as a result of neglect in other areas of education and poor conditions of service for workers in the sector.
He stressed on the importance of education in the country's development, which, he said, starts with educating the people. "It is education that will open the minds of the people to understand their environment, socio-economic requirements, how to progress towards prosperity and how to sustain their acquired prosperity".
Prof. Andam said the general adult literacy rate in Ghana stood at 53.4 percent in 2003 with 65.8 percent of them males and 42.3 percent being females.
He estimated that the literacy rate was generally expected to increase to 60.3 percent this year, with 67.6 percent for males and 53.6 percent females.
"The country still has a large proportion of its citizens who are still illiterate if we are to move from the developing country to the developed country status", he said.
Prof Andam reiterated the need for all adults to focus on laying a sound foundation for their children in education.
"If you do not spend the right amount of time and focus during the foundation period, whatever you accomplish above the foundation stage is a waste of time. It is vulnerable and this calls for the attention and efforts of all adults".
Prof. Andam commended SUSEC for its good academic performance and advised the students to cultivate the habit of reading as that was the only secret of success in any academic standard.
Mr. Joseph Awuah, Headmaster of the school said the academic performance of the school had been commendable over the years, even though the school strived to rise above the present level.
He commended the PTA for the many projects it had undertaken in the school and mentioned a 40-seater Asia Cosmos bus, an 18-seater Toyota Hiace bus, three semi-detached staff bungalows and the establishment of an internet caf=E9 stocked with 24 computers among the projects provided by the PTA.
The Headmaster also thanked Mr. Joseph Henry Mensah, Senior Minister and MP for Sunyani East for donating 20 million cedis towards the development of the school, in appreciation of the school's performance in the 2003 Senior Secondary School Certificate Examinations.
The Senior Minister, in collaboration with the Sunyani Municipal Assembly and the PTA also contributed to the establishment of a 200- capacity library at a cost of 800 million cedis.
Mr. Awuah also thanked Mr. Maxwell Oti Yeboah, Managing Director of Oti Yeboah Timber Complex for assisting the school in establishing a 60-computer laboratory.
Mr. Mensah called on the teaching staff of pre-tertiary schools to redouble efforts to ensure the success the Government's new SSS four-year education programme.
Nana Kwadwo Seinti, Brong-Ahafo Regional Minister paid a special tribute to the founding fathers of the school for their vision and tenacity of purpose in establishing the school. He acknowledged the contributions and support of the chiefs and people of the region, the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service to the school.
Dr. Kwasi Nsiah-Gyabaah, Principal of Sunyani Polytechnic, who presided mentioned relevance, teacher motivation and indiscipline in schools as major challenges facing education in Ghana, which needed the urgent attention of the Government and all stakeholders. Awards and certificates were presented to deserving students for their academic excellence as well as some non-teaching staff for untiring efforts.