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08 August 2017

Schools close too early- Education Minister wants changes

Education Minister, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh has tasked the National Council for Curriculum Assessment to revise the closing time for basic schools.

“School closes too early in this county…. why can’t schools close at 4pm”, he said, at the National Education Sector Review Forum in Accra Tuesday on the theme ‘Strengthening accountability for results.’

He says the current closing time of 2pm for most schools is not favorable for some parents and guardians because, they are compelled to leave work to go for their children.

He said this is putting undue pressure on parents which in turn affects their productivity at work.

The Minister also revealed an estimated 362,781 students will be enrolled in the free Senior High School (SHS) programme for the 2017/2018 academic year, the Minister of Education (MoE).

He said statistics in the Ministry indicated that for the past four years, an average of 110,000 students who passed their Basic Education and were placed in SHS, fail to enrol for reasons including fees charged at the secondary level.

He explained that in this response, implementation of the free SHS policy would remove cost barriers by absorbing fees currently charged to students; adding that “This is intended to present equal opportunity to every child, access to education”.

Free SHS further confronts inequity in secondary education by reserving 30 per cent of places in the top 82 SHS to students from public basic schools, Dr Opoku Prempeh stated.

He noted that currently, top schools with good performance in the West Africa Senior School Certificate (WASSCE) tend to be filled by students from private basic schools with good performance relative to public basic schools.

“Under free SHS, we will ensure that students from public basic schools have equal opportunity to enrol in any of the top SHS in Ghana,” the Minister said.

“Other key provisions under the free SHS include: Provision of four core textbooks and supplementary readers to each student, provision of free hot meal every school day for each student and signing of performance contracts by heads of public SHS,” Dr Opoku Prempeh added.

He said the free SHS would also cover technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions.

On government’s decision to realign TVET to the MoE, Dr Opoku Prempeh said currently, TVET delivery in Ghana was fragmented under 18 different Ministries, each with different enabling Act and mandate.

He said this had affected system governance, development and coordination for efficiency, equality and relevance of training provision.

He said that in addition, TVET was confronted with challenges such as poor linkage between training and industry, multiplicity of standards, testing and certification and poor public perception of TVET.

He said these challenges had hindered the establishment of a functional TVET and skills development system.

“To confront the challenges, the Ministry has commenced work to align all public institutions under the Ministry of Education to provide policy direction in skills development.

“We believe that aligning all Technical and Vocational Training Institutions under the Ministry of Education will facilitate sector development through improved coordination and standardisation, policy coherence, targeted support expansion and effective resource mobilisation,” he added.

He mentioned that others include uniform accreditation, training and certification and better regulation and supervision.

Mr Philip Smith, Country Director of the United Kingdom’s Development for International Development (DFID), recommended a commitment to a National TVET Strategy, which would provide a functional TVET and skills development system to support the preparation of a globally competitive workforce for social and economic transformation in Ghana.

“We commend the government’s efforts to reform TVET that will contribute meaningfully to industrial development and economic growth,” he stated.

The Chairman of the Ghana Education Campaign Coalition, Mr Bright Appiah, commended government for increasing the capitation grant from GH¢4.50 to GH¢9.00, adopting the base grant approach to forestall delays in disbursement, adopting the inclusive education policy and reducing teacher absenteeism.

He further hailed the government for initiating the process to revise the private schools’ regulations and the introduction of the free SHS policy.

 

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