Takoradi, Oct. 18 GNA - "It is a proven fact, that investment in education has very high socio-economic returns, hence, the Government's determination to provide the necessary structures and resources to revitalise education and make it respond to the realities of the time". Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, Minister of Education, Youth and Sport, who stated this said, it behoves on District Directors of Education to take up the challenge of being the "movers and shakers" of education at that level to ensure that all children have "fair chance for the future". He was addressing the opening ceremony of the 12th Annual Conference of District Directors of Education in Takoradi on Monday.
Mr Osafo-Maafo spoke on the topic: Financing Education for all at the Pre-tertiary Level at the six-day conference, which is on the theme "Implementation of the 2004 Education Reform Review Report". The Minister said the government was aware of the additional responsibility brought about by ensuring that, basic education truly becomes free and therefore evolving economic strategies to contain the situation.
He stressed the need for the District Directors to ensure efficient and effective utilisation of resources, if they wish for more funding for educational programmes.
Mr Osafo-Maafo said the over-dependence on donor support to fund education had become "undesirable" thereby, posing a challenge for increased mobilisation of resources internally.
He said, while he believes in the concept of cost sharing, emphasis at the basic education level must be voluntary, and also as a nation, the concept must be tailored to the realities on the ground for the various levels of educational system".
Mr Osafo-Maafo disclosed that, preparation towards the implementation of the White Paper on education reforms has started and said recurrent expenditure funding gap for the implementation was about one trillion cedis.
This would increase to about three trillion cedis per year by 2015, when capital investment shortfall would be about five trillion cedis and mentioned strategies being evolved to mobilise resources to fund the shortfall.
This among others includes securing a larger share of government revenue and mobilisation of community and corporate support that would include funds from Churches and chiefs.
Mr Osafo-Maafo expressed concern about certain practices that include bureaucracy, slow response to correspondence that affects personnel on issues like pension, remuneration, and promotions that could affect the process of change in the educational system, and said this must be checked.
"There is the need for you, as leaders at the district levels to build up the team spirit among personnel to make you effective managers". The Minister also spoke about plans to streamline basic school syllabus for the new reforms to improve quality and relevance among which, ICT courses would be introduced in all 6,300 public junior high schools. To meet the needs of the expected increases in the number of students, he said the Education Sector Plan would provide for school construction, textbook provision and the training of teachers.
Welcoming the delegates, Ms Sophia Horner-Sam, Deputy Western Regional Minister said, the country was still in search of an educational system that would position its products strategically in the global world, where technology was ever changing.
It was for this reason that the government had taken the initiative to provide the opportunity for all well-meaning citizens and stakeholders to exchange ideas on the way forward.
In addition to the provision of materials and facilities, she said the capitation grant was another modest attempt to ensure that the poor but talented children were not denied the benefit of education. Mr Eddy Obeng-Darko, National President of the Conference, asked district directors of education to develop the capacity to "absorb the shocks" and embrace the innovations that may come with the new educational reforms.
He also advised them to educate headteachers on the correct and efficient use of the Capitation Grant.
Mr Obeng-Darko called on parents, teachers and other stakeholders to assist in dealing with the problem of indiscipline among students and also check examination leakages at all levels. Nana Kobina Nketsia V, Omanhene of Essikadu, who presided, noted with concern that, many people, who enjoyed fee-free education ironically, use their knowledge to cheat the people, who made their education possible.
This phenomenon was an indication that there was "something fundamentally wrong with our system of education". He hoped the reforms would correct this to ensure sustained development for all.
Fraternal messages from Conference of Heads of Assisted Secondary Schools, National Association of Graduate Teachers, Ghana National Association of Teachers and Conference of Principals of Training Colleges were read at the ceremony.