Education is central to development, education provides knowledge and skills, the better educated the people are, the more productive they can be. ?Education is a basic human right. Like all human rights, it is universal and inalienable which means everyone, regardless of gender, religion, ethnicity or economic status is entitled to it,? UNICEF.

prof naana jane

The ultimate measure of success in school lies in what children are able to learn. Education is therefore an investment for social development for the child, the parents and the nation.
The 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana requires all children to have nine years of basic education paid for by the government. The 2008 Education Act added two years of kindergarten, making eleven years of basic education for every child the responsibility of the government. Kindergarten was optional before 2008. The 2008 Education Act has made it compulsory for all children.

As part of the ongoing Education Decentralization Roadmap Campaign Project, Ghana National Education Campaign Coalition (GNECC) in collaboration with STAR-GHANA advocates for a more effective management system for public basic education in Ghana.

It is therefore up to the government, parents and guardians to make kindergarten, primary and Junior High School available to all children. The constitution also requires that as the economy of Ghana improves post-basic education, that is Senior High School and tertiary education will be available to more Ghanaians at the expence of the government.

But the saddest situation is that close to 50 percent of children who come out of Junior High School are unable to continue beyond the Junior High Schoollevel. Parents who can afford the fees enroll their children in private schools. Many fee-paying schools deliver higher quality of education than public schools. At the moment, the average Ghanaian see nothing good coming out of public schools. Public servants and politicians patronize private schools whereas the poor suffers the backdrop! Teachers who may be absenting themselves from school may well have children attending private schools. Parents cannot be convinced by such behaviour that their children benefit much from public schools. They also expect their children to read and write after many years of basic education.Poor and illiterate parents also see the value of education which would enable children to read and write! They have lost confidence and associated public schools with poor quality of education!

Soon after a major debate about the dwindling quality of education in Ghana, a new survey revealed that 98 percent of pupils in basic schools could neither read nor understand English or any Ghanaian Language properly.
This was published in the National Education Assessment (NEA) report. The survey was carried out by the Assessment Services Unit (ASU) of the Ghana Education Service (GES) with support from the Research Triangle International RTI. The project was funded by the USAID.

The NEA measures pupils? competence in Mathematics and English in primary three and six every other year.
According to the report, only two percent of basic school children sampled are able to read fluently with understanding.
The report followed a survey carried out from July 9 to 11, 2013 that sampled a total of 19,458 pupils in primary three and 17,447 pupils in primary six with 550 public and private schools in 170 districts in Ghana.
The NEA aims at measuring pupils? performance in the two subjects and intends to give the GES an indicator of the effectiveness of primary education system.

In fact, until our government and policy makers take an entrenched position and change the governing structure and policy directions of our basic education system immediately, quality education of this present generation in Ghana will continue to suffer greater loses and the brain power deficit will continue to loom in the future.
Indeed, it is an undeniable fact that education consumes a large portion of our national budget and against this backdrop, it is crystal clear that we are not getting value for the huge investment and effort in education.
Outstanding issues hindering quality of basic education.

Although Ghana experienced massive growth in enrollment soon after the educational reforms, the more recent major increases in enrollment were due to social interventions and the improvement of the economy. Capitation grant payments to schools, supply of school uniforms, school feeding, etc. appear to be the measures which significantly drove poor children into school. The poor need more tangible support which goes beyond preaching to them about what school can do to reduce their poverty. They also don?t see much evidence of school leavers doing significantly better socially and economically than school drop-outs!

These key challenges must be addressed to make quality education more available to children of the poor. The new education Act gives pride of place to decentralisation of education management, stressed in the 1992 Constitution as a key state policy to improve the delivery of government services to communities nation-wide!
The public schools in Ghana suffer many disadvantages because of the lack of effective management and supervision. This has diminished the confidence of Ghanaians in public schools. Parents who can afford fees of better-managed private schools enroll their children in such schools because of poor learning outcomes.

Poor learning outcomes, according to a2011 World Bank report explainedthat large numbers of students who gained little from their time in basic educationare at a loss in talent to Ghana and their countries. This is the case in many developing countries where access to education is not delivering meaningful results which is quality education for the majority of learners.
The report also stated boldly that unequal distribution of qualified teachers and teaching materials, low attendance, teacher absenteeism and low morale accounted for the poor performances of basic education in the public sector.

Learning outcomes are so low and poor in many developing countries where millions of children complete basic education without acquiring basic skills in reading, writing and math. These children cannot make it to secondary schools to achieve the promise of EFA and the Millennium Development Goals 2 and 3. Quality basic education which takes a poor child from primary through to secondary and tertiary education is the greatest benefit of education to reduce intergenerational poverty! That is, good education is the greatest hope for poor children to move themselves and their families out of poverty. It is the foundation of a developed economy!

Failure to address unequal learning outcomes now would lead to serious crisis several years from now as many students exit the system without any learning gains. It is said that ?a nation that is half-well-to-do, half miserably poor, half-educated, half-unskilled and unlettered cannot enjoy stable, social and political conditions.?
This learning gap threatens future development and will be an obstacle to productive lives for many and our country will suffer greatly.Government must demonstrate nationally that public schools are doing as well as private schools. Government must demonstrate that children who have attended public basic schools are also attending senior high schools. That is why government must demonstrate that a decentralized educationsystem has the potential to mobilize government and district resources to improve public basic schools.
The development of sound and inclusive strategies to accelerate progress towards good quality education for all is urgently needed. According to a 2001 Oxfam report, it is increasingly being realized that community involvement is one of the most critical requirements for successful educational reform.

How Education Decentralisation can a achieve positive education outcomes
Educational decentralisation does not mean district assemblies levy separate taxes on communities to run local schools. Teachers will continue to be trained by the central government. Schools will be built by funds directly provided by the government. Funds which the district assemblies generate locally, the internally ?generated funds, will provide additional resources to improve schools. Extra incentives for teachers will include housing allowances for newly recruited teachers whose salaries are usually delayed. The Ghana Education Service will monitor and evaluate the management of schools by the district assemblies.

Government must demonstrate that public schools can function as well as private schools. Further preaching to communities is not required. A concrete demonstration of what some district assemblies have achievedin education is necessary! Government must embrace religious bodies, traditional leaders and local businesses as partners in the improvement of local schools.

Ghana National Education Campaign Coalition (GNECC),
National Secretariat,
+233 (0)302521650.

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