Education is a right and all children of school going age irrespective of where they live in Ghana must be given access to quality education. The role of education to human resource development of a nation cannot be overlooked.
Education continues to play a crucial role in human development and has been recognized as one of the tools or a pivot in which social, economic and political development revolves. Regardless of gender, religious or political affiliation every individual has the right to quality education.
As stated by Nelson Mandela “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. Yes, a tool that can change almost everything from obsolete cultural norms, bad attitudes towards community development to political and religious orientation of people.
Governments around the world have the obligation to establish schools and furnish them with quality and appropriate teaching and learning materials including qualified teaching personnel to impart knowledge to learners.
For the past eight years children in Ghana are being used as “guinea pigs” to try many reforms (educational reforms). Syllabuses at the primary, junior high to senior high schools have changed severally within these periods of educational reforms. We have the most confused educational system.
Notwithstanding this, some progress has been made in Ghana to make education available and accessible to children of school going age through the Compulsory Basic Education policy, school feeding programme and free school uniform among other governmental efforts. The government in collaboration with some Non-Governmental Organizations has also developed Complementary Basic Education (CBE) policy framework to aid the country to provide quality education to all children of school going age.
While I acknowledged these efforts, quality education is much desirable if human resource of a nation is to be developed.
But there is a big question. What then is quality education? As defined by UNICEF “Learners who are healthy, well-nourished and ready to participate and learn, and supported in learning by their families and communities; or the processes through which trained teachers use child-centred teaching approaches in well-managed classrooms and schools and skilful assessment to facilitate learning and reduce disparities; Outcomes that encompass knowledge, skills and attitudes, and are linked to national goals for education and positive participation in society Content that is reflected in relevant curricula and materials for the acquisition of basic skills, especially in the areas of literacy, numeracy and skills for life, and knowledge in such areas as gender, health, nutrition, HIV/AIDS prevention and peace” among other suggestions.
Can we in Ghana claim our education is quality enough considering the above definitions of quality education? We have poor learning environment, non-friendly child-centered teaching approaches, poorly managed classrooms, aside appalling BECE and West Africa Examination Council results.
This calls to mind the debate about quality education in public schools and private schools. Public schools are littered all over Ghana. This does not imply all communities in Ghana have access to basic schools. Accessibility is one thing and quality another.
For years now, children in public schools are unable to pass well in Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE). Infact, the BECE performances have been declining over the years now in public schools in spite of policy guidelines coupled with international development organization interventions. Public schools also boast of a larger number of qualified trained teachers. Upon all these school performances at the BECE level are appalling.
Private schools are few, with limited teaching and learning materials. Private schools use untrained teachers or those people usually described as school dropout, yet, they perform well in BECE. Ironically, majority of trained teachers in public schools children are attending private schools and being taught by untrained teachers, yet they perform well.
So what exactly has gone wrong in public schools system in Ghana? I salute the efforts of teachers that are committed to imparting knowledge on children at the basic level. But the truth is that the comparison of these two streams of education is justifiable.
The standards of education in public schools are said to have fallen drastically. Majority of pupils in public schools are unable to read and write or express themselves in the English language.
There are also incredible failures in Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE). Absenteeism, drunkenness, lateness among teachers coupled with the lack of teaching and learning materials in public schools are often blamed for the poor outcomes at the BECE.
In this regard, teachers in public schools though receive some amount of supervisions; it has not been able to translate into quality education or good results. The lack of teacher motivation in the public schools also accounts for poor results. Public schools in fact, are run as “No-Man-Business”. The stakeholders in education are just playing along to end their living.
In private school there is effective supervision. Also there is a conducive environment that motivates teachers and pupils to work harder.
It is often said that charity begins at home, and in pedagogy a child’s first point of learning is the home. Parents of children in the public schools have very little interest in the well being of their wards in the school and how they perform.
They do not take time out to probe to see what their wards are learning in school and the challenges they face in their academic work whereas that do not happen in private schools.
In private schools parents pay attention the activities of their children and supporting them in their homework and also providing educational materials to include getting personal teachers for their children at home.
The teaching staff and GES officials are not entirely to be blamed for the mess. The government inability to provide teaching and learning material, train more teachers and engage good managers as Head Teachers in school are part of the contributory factors to the appalling situation in public schools. Isnt it prudent to employ innovative and enterprising people to head schools? To change the trend in pupils performances there is the need for all new approaches to teaching, school and management.
However, the little resources that are available to public schools should properly be utilized. Beside, new approaches particularly the use of ICT tools to deliver lessons in schools should be adopted. When our children passed through the right environment or educational system, the issue of school dropout, teenage pregnancies, crime and spread of sexual transmitted infections would be reduced.
GES and Parents teachers Associations should work closely together transform public schools through effective monitoring and supervision as done in private schools to reverse the current trend in public schools. Education is a right and its quality must not be compromised.