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28.03.2006 General News

Government addresses challenges of Capitation Grant

By GNA

Accra, March 28, GNA - Government has announced measures to address the challenges of increased school enrolment with the implementation of the Capitation Grant.

With immediate effect, the shift system is being re-introduced in public schools to cater for the larger numbers of school children. District Directors of Education have also been instructed to consider the use of church buildings, community centres, or other suitable public places for use as temporary classrooms. Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, Minister of Education and Sports, announced the measures at a press briefing on the latest developments in the education sector, in Accra of Tuesday.

He said a Project Management Committee on the Grant, had been mandated as a matter of urgency to meet to strategise and come out with an action plan on the provision of infrastructure. Basic school admission figures in the 2005/06 academic year soared by 616, 439 pupils over that of the year 20004/05; while that at the secondary level increased by 53,773 at the secondary level over the same period.

The situ ation had created the need for more logistics and infrastructure, and according to Mr Osafo-Maafo, based on the national norm of 40 pupils per classroom, there was an extra demand for 13,400 classrooms, in addition to a gap of providing 15,979 classroom carried forward from the 2004/2005 academic year.

He said 17,612 teachers are required to maintain the national Pupil to Teacher Ratio of 35 pupils to one teacher.

Mr Osafo-Maafo said the Ministry had received an allocation of 11 million dollars from the Education for All-Fast Track Initiative Catalytic Trust Fund to be applied this year to enhance access and quality of the implementation of the Grant.

The facility covers construction of 450 classrooms; 5,000, dual desks for Basic Schools, 250 teachers' table and chairs, and renovation and rehabilitation of existing structures.

It also covers textbooks; institutional arrangements for non-professional teachers, recruitment and orientation, as well as 53 double-cabin pickups for supervision and six-unit teacher accommodation facilities in 22 deprived schools.

Mr Osafo-Maafo said classroom teachers about to go on retirement were being considered to stay back if they so wished, while arrangements were being made to restore their salaries. On the Computerised School Selection and Placement System (CSSPS), Mr Osafo-Maafo said 155,850 qualified Basic Education Certificate Examination candidates had been placed in the 487 Senior Secondary Schools as well as 23 Technical Institutes in the Public Sector throughout the country.

He pointed out that under the manual system in 2004; only 138,502 were placed in Senior Secondary Schools and Technical Institutes. Despite the public controversies, the Education and Sports Minister, made a strong point for the CSSPS, citing national integration and marginal increase in the number of qualified candidates. Some of the public outcry against the system were the lack of public sensitisation on the CSSPS, problems in the selection of schools by candidates, improper filling of forms, selection of public and private schools, and refusal of some heads to offer admission to candidates who have been placed in their schools.

Mr Osafo-Maafo said there would be a programme to educate the public through the churches and the media before this year' selection process. Schools with boarding and hostel facilities would be clearly spelled out. He advised the heads of schools to ensure the proper filling of forms and that parents should be fully involved in the selection of schools by their children.

Medical reasons and bio-data should be attached to the request for change of schools, and issues concerning inability of candidates to access top class schools due to financial constraints should be brought to the attention of the GES.

On the impasse between the National Graduate Teachers Association (NAGRAT) and the Ghana Education Service, for top-up allowance for which the Teachers have threatened to boycott invigilating the impending Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination, Mr Osafo-Maafo said payment would be effected as soon as "we receive the outstanding returns", adding that the delay came because at the Ministry's last meeting there was a deadlock on the issue.

"Arrangements are far advanced to pay, but out of the 507 centres, we have just received 158 returns from the schools", the Minister said. He gave the assurance that arrangements were also far advanced to pay the salary arrears of fresh graduates, who were admitted into the Teaching Service in 2003", as well as the adjustment of salaries Assistant Directors.

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