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28.06.2005 Education

Liberal education lies in the hands of courts


Accra, June 28, GNA- Professor Emmanuel Gyimah-Boadi, a Political Scientist on Tuesday said the only hope for a credible implementation of the lofty constitutional provisions on access to education was left by default to the courts, and their willingness to create a liberal jurisprudence that would make those obligations positive.

He said a liberal solution to the crisis of access would also emphasize community-based education to encourage parents and guardians to invest in basic schools in the communities nearest to them. Community-based education, Prof Gyima-Boadi said, would also reduce the outrageous time and other costs associated with transporting school children to and from school over long distances, and leave a room for the state to put more of its limited resources at the disposal of schools in disadvantaged communities.

Professor Gyimah-Boadi, who is also the Executive Director of the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), made the point in Accra when he delivered the Second Annual Liberal lecture organised by the Centre, with the support of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation. Ministers of State, Governance Experts, Civic Education Practitioners and Journalists attended the Lecture, which was on the theme: "Reflections on Liberalism and Education in Ghana."

Liberals place an enormous emphasis on education because they see it as an essential instrument for the cultivation of individual reason and rationality and also believe that education is one of the few areas where state intervention is necessary.

Professor Gyimah-Boadi identified four main elements in the crisis of education as access, quality, funding, and governance, which were reflected in poor supervision and over-centralization of education management.

He listed a number of liberal preferences in providing solutions to concerns in education, mentioning merit appointments, abatement of nepotism and stimulation of quality education through cost sharing. "Parents and students and indeed taxpayers will be motivated to insist on quality and the state cannot get away with an attitude of 'take it or leave it'

"...In a country where vendors take advantage of unsuspecting customers and sell capsules filled with cassava flour to patients as aspirin, the state has an enormous responsibility to protect customers. ....A liberal solution would emphasize the strengthening of state capacity to establish and enforce broad guidelines for the delivery of quality education at all levels," Prof. Gyimah-Boadi said.

He said liberals would applaud National Accreditation Boards, with the full complement of financial, administrative and technical resources to maintain the necessary standards, and post accreditation notice to all District Assemblies and pre-tertiary institutions to inform prospective applicants of admission and admission requirements. Transparency in the oversight of the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFUND), was necessary to enhance accountability, Prof. Gyimah-Boadi said, adding that liberal practices required that Parliament took up the review of the Annual Reports of the Fund submitted to Parliament.

Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, Minister of Education and Sports said 82 percent of the 6.3 trillion cedis allocated in the current year's budget went into the payment of wages and salaries, and the remaining 18 per cent went into the development of education infrastructure.

He said a special programme, costing 20 billion cedis, to improve upon the faculties was underway at the Universities of Ghana, Cape Coast and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. Mr. Osafo-Maafo said 10 billion cedis had so far been released from the GETFUND for the project.

He announced that a bill had been placed before Parliament, which would, among others, seek the Legislature's approval to the Universities to determine students' ability to pay fees through Means Test.

The Education and Sports Minister said so far, students owed about 800 million cedis to the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), in student loans, and added that ways were being devised with employers to make beneficiaries pay for their loans when they began work after completing their various courses.