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08.10.2019 Feature Article

Education in Ghana: How Parents Have Become Untouchable and Powerful

Education in Ghana: How Parents Have Become Untouchable and Powerful
LISTEN OCT 8, 2019

It gained full momentum with the introduction and implementation of the Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE). The FCUBE made provision for education at the basic level (KG to JHS 3) to be compulsorily accessible to every Ghanaian child of school-going age. The Capitation Grant and the School Feeding Programme were later introduced to increase access by eliminating financial barriers which hitherto affected enrollment in Basic Schools.

Although the above interventions tremendously increased enrollment in Basic Schools, it was realised that the Junior High School became the terminal point for most Ghanaian children as the payment of fees at the Senior High Schools (SHS) became a major constraint for parents. The Free SHS policy was therefore introduced in September 2017 to make SHS education absolutely free for all. As of now, pre- tertiary education in Ghana is free, an enviable feat that very few countries in Africa could match.

Parents have now bade farewell to the few levies they previously paid such as Printing fees, Parent-Teacher Association levy for developmental projects in schools and Sports/Culture levies for the organisation of sports and cultural festivals. Just last term (3rd term of the 2018/19 academic year), over eighty head teachers in some Basic Schools in the Ga West Municipality have been demoted by the Ghana Education Service(GES) for collecting Printing fees from parents for the usual conduct of examinations.

The picture being painted by the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service is that which portrays teachers/head teachers as "extortionists" who extort monies from pupils/parents for their personal gains. Parents have also been over - empowered to the extent that GES can now incite parents to physically assault parents who cane their wards without recourse to the laws of Ghana.

Before the introduction of the Standard Based Curriculum, many schools which had for long been neglected by government were under construction and refurbishment by the PTA have unfortunately come to an indefinite halt with the proscription of the collection of PTA levies. One does not need to be a betting expert to bet his/her last penny that most of these schools would collapse while pupils remain under these dilapidated, death trapped structures which await their collapse.

Again, teachers have been warned to desist from demanding materials such as cardboards, A 4 sheets and other materials from parents for use by their own wards, meanwhile, textbooks and these materials have not been provided by the GES. Now that parents have been stopped from payment of sports and culture levies, the capitation grant would not be enough for the organisation of sports and cultural festivals by schools, let alone purchasing textbooks and other learning materials.

The Ghanaian parent has now become an 'untouchable' in the basic education system who plays virtually no role in assisting his/her wards financially and materially in educational delivery while teachers are now the victimised targets of the authorities, who in turn, are expected to purchase their own lesson notes and teaching and learning materials from their meagre salaries.

The Ministry of Education and the GES seem to have completely forgotten the 'compulsory' part of the FCUBE which binds parents to compulsorily enroll their wards in schools. What has the GES legally done to parents whose wards are school drop outs on the principal streets of Accra where their big offices are located? The focus seem to be only on the 'free' mantra with teachers as targets.

Parents should not forget that governments and ministers would come and leave, but their wards remain forever theirs and should therefore pick up their responsibilities and invest in their wards' education. Pre-tertiary education is free though, but quality matters most. An aggrieved teacher portrayed as an extortionist, who has to purchase his/her own lesson note books and teaching materials, provided with poor quality food for five days who had to resort to demonstrations just to receive GHC 50.00 curriculum training allowance and always handcuffed with dismissal threats would never guarantee a smooth implementation of a Standard-Based curriculum.

Finally, parents should hold on to their jubilations over the 'free' mantra until they are able to point to the son/daughter of any Director General of Education, or a Minister of Education or any of the upper echelons who attended or is attending a government basic school in Ghana with no textbooks, TLMs, no extra classes, printing/sports levy and a demotivated teacher.

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