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11.09.2005 General News

Don't privatise public universities - Principals


Tamale, Sept 11, GNA - The Conference of Principals of Teacher Training Colleges has expressed concern about the increasing rate at which some public universities in the country are gradually and steadily being privatised.

The principals noted that the fixing of stringent cut-off points for highly demanded courses and the declaration of some vacancies as fee-paying options for admission seekers who have lower entry qualifications was to use a subtle way of making private institutions out of the public universities.

The principals therefore appealed to the government to ensure that this practice was reviewed to enable Ghanaian children from lower income brackets gain easy admission to universities to offer these programmes. These were contained in a communiqu=E9 issued at the end of their 47th Annual Conference and Workshop in Tamale on Saturday. The principals also bemoaned the ever-falling standards of English Language competence in higher institutions of learning in the country. "Even the most causal observer will accept the fact that there is more than anecdotal evidence pointing to the fact that the standard of English Language competence has fallen and continues to fall at the levels of education in the country.''

They said the rate at which the standard of English Language was falling could deny Ghanaian children their effective participation in the exchange of information and communication via the Website. This would affect the ability of brilliant mathematicians, scientists and engineers to communicate their ideas effectively to others within and outside the country.

The Principals called for the institution of English Language clinics together with improvement in the teaching of English at all levels to address this problem.

The Conference also noted with concern the high incidents of examination malpractices at all levels of the education sector and commended the West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) and the Ghana Education Service (GES) for ensuring that this year's Basic Education Certificate Examinations (BECE) was not leaked.

The principals called for national cooperative action in safeguarding the integrity of the country and guaranteeing international respect and acceptability of the certificates that are awarded to graduates from the educational institutions.

They urged teachers to approach their duties with all the seriously it deserves especially, by ensuring full coverage of the topics of study. Parents should also refrain from the practice of setting unrealistic goals for their children who may be of average ability such that the children were not driven into finding undesirable ways and means of attaining those goals.

The principals appealed to the examination bodies and agencies to ensure that examiners and employees do not misuse their privileged positions to leak examination questions for any kind of undeserved gains.

They urged the Attorney General's Office to review the level of punishments for persons involved in examination malpractices and come out with ruthless punishment to deter others from engaging in such practices, adding: "our conference is ready and prepared to assist in waging war against this canker".

The Communiqu=E9 cautioned the government not to allow the new Education Bill to take away the functions of the Ghana Education Service since that would relegate the Ministry of Education to assume the role of policy formulator and implementer. The principals declared their support for the establishment of a body to license teachers in the country; a move that they considered would introduce more professionalism into teaching.

"We wish to advise that the Licensing Authority once established should put in place a process to license all practicing teachers by September 2007."

The Principals maintained that for an effective implementation of the proposed Educational Reform Programme, all stakeholders including the principals must ensure that the necessary infrastructure and other inputs were put in place so that the four year Senior High School education would be effectively implemented.

They commended the government for introducing the capitation payment policy as well as the experimental school-feeding programme, which were likely to increase enrolment in primary schools. The principals appealed to the government to improve infrastructure, ensure adequate textbooks and teachers supply and the provision of other logistics for the smooth take off of the programme.

They urged the government to take steps to improve infrastructure in the colleges to raise the admission figures of pupils at the basic school level to 15,000 next academic year.

The principals called on the government to consider, as a matter of urgency, to increase boarding fees, saying the cost of food items and feeding related services had gone up substantially since the boarding fees were increased to 6, 200 cedis. They therefore appealed to the Ghana Education Service to consider convening a meeting with the Fee-fixing Committee to discuss the issue without any delay.