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Challenges and Prospects of Education In Ghana

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Formal education is widely acknowledged as the foundation of civilization and development. In modern times, the scope of emphasis has been stretched from mere formal education to quality education. That is why governments all over the world are enjoined by the Education for All (EFA) agenda not just to provide education to all children of school-going age, but that they must not sacrifice quality education under any circumstance.

Formal education in Ghana dates back to the colonial period. The European merchants and missionaries, who settled in the then Gold Coast to ply their trade, were the first to establish schools in the country. At the time of independence, Ghana had only one university and a few elementary and secondary schools. However, in a space of 50 years, the number of public universities has increased to six, in addition to 10 polytechnics in all the regions and a plethora of private universities and tertiary institutions scattered throughout the country. Initially, the education structure was modeled on the British system but after independence in 1957, it underwent a series of reforms with the view to refining its quality. The Education Act of 1961, The Dzobo Report of 1973, which recommended the Junior & Senior Secondary School (JSS) concept, the New Structure and Content of Education (1974), the Education Commission Report on Basic and Secondary Schools (1987/88), the University Rationalization Committee Report (1996), the Ghana Education Compulsory Universal Basic Education Programme (1996), the Ghana Education Trust Fund Act, 2000 (Act 581) and the Presidential Committee on the Review of the Education Reforms (2002), are some of the policy initiatives that have been taken by various governments in the past to refine the education system in the country.

For a developing country, such as Ghana, the provision of quality education is more imperative, given the fact that it serves as a catalyst to development. It is for this reason that over the years, successive governments have placed much emphasis on education, which for a very time, has accounted for one-third (35%) of the country's national budget. In their bid to meet the development aspirations of the nation, many past governments (since independence) have introduced various educational reforms, but it appears the most appropriate policy has not yet been found. Therefore, even at a time when the country celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 2007, a new educational reform had been-rolled out.

Shortly after independence in 1957, there was a widely-held views that, the quality of the education system inherited from the British was unsuitable for the kind of development aspirations which the country anticipated. That view is well captured in the Dzobo Report of 1973, which launched a new paradigm of education system in the country. One of the key educational reforms in the country was launched in 1987 by the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) regime under the leadership of Fit. Lt. J.J. Rawlings. The reform sought to implement the JSS programme, whose policy decision was based on a Government White Paper entitled The New Structure and Contest of Education (MOE, 1974), issued by Ignatius Kutu Acheampong's National Redemption Council (NRC) regime. The new educational policy moved the country away from the 6-4-7-3 educational structure (under which students had six years of primary education, four years of elementary education, seven years of secondary education and three years of university education), to the 6-3-3-4 educational structure (involving six years of primary, three years of JSS, three years of senior secondary school (SSS) and four years of university education), i number of years spent in school I to University) was reduced from years. This meant that, under reform, the initial nine years of e at the primary and JSS constituted education level, which is suppos compulsory and free for every C child of school-going age.

The requirement of compulsory basic education for children w enshrined in the 1992 Constitutic the Free Compulsory Universe Education (F-CUBE) Policy whe returned to democratic governai FCUBE programme sought to uoon the 1987 reforms bv addres
shortcomings identified implementation process to ensure Significantly, it also sought to adc policy of increasing the enrolmem in basic education. To that ext FCUBE programme focused on objectives; to improve the qu; teaching and learning; to impr> management efficiency of the ec sector; and to improve access participation in basic education.
The scope of the strategic objectivi programme was expanded in 1 include four more objectives. IT decentralization and sustainabi management structures; imp operations of a self-sustainable fui literacy programme; improving a< science and technology educat training, and ensuring the rele1 education to the manpower needs country. To a very large extent, tl reform was meant to salvage the ed system from virtual collapse occ by lack of trained teachers, inai funding, lack of textbooks anr. teaching and learning mat inadequate supply of furnitui equipment, and the deterioration oJ infrastructure.

Sadly, however, the beautiful goals of the reforms could not be achieved due to weaknesses in its implementation. The idea of placing emphasis on technical education at the JSS level did not materialize because the government could not build workshops to serve as training grounds for the students. The few workshops that were built for the purpose, unfortunately, lacked the requisite tools for training.
Furthermore, there were inadequate textbooks and other teaching and learning materials. Dilapidated school buildings, poor quality teachers and lack of motivation for teachers worsened the problem. All these weaknesses reflected in the poor quality of graduates produced under the system, giving critics a justification to pass a vote of no confidence in the education system. In response to public criticism of the educational system, the government of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) also under the leadership of Rawlings set up the Education Reform Review Committee of 1993/94 whose work culminated in the National Education Forum of 1994. The forum, attended by 150 representatives of various shareholder groups, discussed various problems identified by the education review committee. These include poor quality of teaching and learning in schools; inadequate funding; inadequate parental involvement in their children's education; and poor language policy that makes English the medium of instruction after Primary class three. Others are lack of teacher motivation resulting in lack of commitment and devotion to teaching; inadequate co­ordination and collaboration among the implementing divisions of the Ghana Education Service (GSE); poor growth in school enrolment; and the negative attitude of the Ghanaian public towards technical and vocational education. The 1994 National Education Forum provided an opportunity for stakeholders to examine critically the strengths and weaknesses of the 1987-initiated reforms and make recommendations to address the weaknesses.

In the face of mounting criticism of the reform, President Kufuor, on assumption of power in 2001, declared his government's intention to review the system. That intention was carried out in 2002 when the government set up the Presidential Committee on Educational Reforms under the chairmanship of Prof. Jophus Anamoah-Mensah, then Vice Chancellor of the University College of Education, Winneba. The 29-member committee presented its report to the government in October 2002, after which the government issued a White Paper on the recommendation of the report. However, it was not until September, 2007 that the government started implementing recommendations of the report. It may be early days yet to access the success or otherwise of the new system.

One significant intervention that has impacted positively on the education system in Ghana, is the establishment of the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund). The fund was established by an act of Parliament the Ghana Education Trust Fund Act, 2001 (Act 581) on August 25, 2001, to provide a reliable source of financing education, particularly in public institutions. The fund is under the management of a 17-member Board of Trustees who oversee its disbursement through the Ministry of Education (MOE), the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE), the Scholarship Secretariat and the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT). The fund is derived from a two and half per cent deduction from the Value Added Tax (VAT). It also invol money that accrues from investme made by Board of Trustees; grai donations, gifts and other contributioi the fund; as well as other monies property that may in any manner, becc lawfully payable and vested in the Bo of the Fund. The disbursement of the fi has mainly been through subsidies academic user fees in tertiary institutic payment for infrastructure projects tertiary institutions; provision of vehk for public tertiary institutions; ; agencies of Ministry of Educati provision of trucks for carting materials/books to basic senior second schools; and grant for the National E Teacher Award. Other areas of support the Students Loan Scheme; compui and equipment for public terti institutions; re-print of textbooks schools; and some internatio obligation of the government.

Through the support of the GETFund there has been a massive improvement in infrastructure at all levels of education. The principal beneficiaries of the fund have been public universities with many lecture and residential halls, as well as other academic facilities built, to address the critical infrastructural problem facing those institutions.

Undoubtedly, Ghana's education system has a checkered past. It is only hoped that the new system introduced by the Kufuor administration will end the decades experimentations, and put the country's education on the right footing.

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Education In Ghana, Education, Formal education in Ghana

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