Gov’t disinterested in taking over religious run schools – Dr. Opoku Prempeh

The Education Ministry has held the second National Education Week with the theme “Reforming the Education Sector for Effective Service Delivery: Embracing Innovations.”

The August 6-9 meeting of minds had various educational stakeholders as well as the sector minister Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh in session including educationist and senior lecturer at the Accra College of Medicine; Anis Haffer, Deputy Education Minister-TVET; Hon. Gifty Twum-Ampofo; Minister of State- Tertiary Education; Hon. Prof. Kwesi Yankah and Chief Director of the Education Ministry; Benjamin Kofi Gyasi.

In his address, Dr. Prempeh mentioned that in 2018, stakeholders in the education sector met at their annual review event to take stock and come up with paper presentations on evidence based teaching methods deployed and its impact presented to the ministry.

He observed the recommendations offered by the stakeholders last year proved valuable as it helped with sector delivery.

The Education Week it emerged begun in 2017 to address challenges which hindered access and quality of education in the country.

According to the minister, basic school enrollment was rising noting the capitation grant which had not been increased for eight years was increased to GHc4.0 per child. Given that schools need their capitation grants to run efficiently, the minister declared after increasing the amount, the next thing to ensure is to have the timely deployment of the funds.

He held that upon assuming office, it soon emerged outmoded curricular was still being used which needed to be revised assuring attention is being paid to the curricular. When it emerged there was need to also train student-teachers and teachers to be creative and good with arithmetic, the Education Minister stated teachers have undergone training and will soon be deployed across the country.

At the Senior High Schools (SHS) level, Dr. Opoku Prempeh informed forum members “cost and ability to pay fees had been a challenge for many so when the free SHS policy took effect, it was welcomed by many parents and guardians. And with the programme, 100,000 Junior High School (JHS) graduates who would have failed to access secondary school education can now do so.”

The practice of secondary schools reserving 30% slot for indigenes of its catchment area has been reformed for equity placement where graduates from the JHS could access choice public secondary schools based on grades,” the minister submitted.

It emerged the teacher training curriculum had been revised to equip teachers to not just access 3-year Diploma and Higher National Diplomas but be able to do 4-year degree programmes with the schools affiliated to the public universities.

On the TVET front, Dr. Prempeh who is also the MP for Manhyia South stated poor coordination, different certification regimes were some of the challenges with recommendations made for a TVET Strategic Plan to guide operations.

At the tertiary level, he said sector members wanted a look at the guiding policy while relooking at the National Tertiary Policy adding the Public University Act will soon be available to streamline activities.

When it emerged that the legal framework governing education was outdated, Dr. Opoku Prempeh submitted work was initiated to address the challenge with 15 bills waiting to be passed by parliament.

The qualified medical doctor debunked assertions government was making a move to takeover missionary run schools explaining “Government is looking to build an effective working relationship with the private sector, religious and civic bodies. The partnership is not to privatise religious run educational units. They have run their education units for over 200 years.”

However he made it clear Government was keen to ensure there is improvement in learning outcomes so that products from the nation’s educational institutions can be competitive to help with the nation’s industrial drive while meeting the needs of the 21st century.

He observed achieving the Education Strategic Plan (ESP) target by 2030 requires GHc165 billion funding noting innovative funding methods have to be devised looking beyond traditional sources of funding.

The minister and surgeon made it clear that the ministry was willing to partner non-state actors to lift non performing schools.

By Michael Eli Dokosi