President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Adoo has joined thousands of the players and stakeholders in the educational sector to open the two celebration of this year’s National Education Week (NEW) which is currently underway in the Accra International Conference Centre, with assurance to improve access to quality education for all children in Ghana.
Themed: “Reforming the Education Sector for Effective Service Delivery: Assessing Progress, the two days event which stated on Tuesday October 27 2020 will be ended on Wednesday October 28, 2020.
Being organized by the Ministry of Education, the event would serve as a viable platform by the stakeholders in the review of educational sector performance and collectively strategize towards the attainment of sector targets in the ensuing year.
The 2018 and 2019 theme for NEW focused on sector reform for effective service delivery as outlined in the Education Sector Plan (ESP) 2018- 2030.
Accordingly, extensive work has and is accountability, the Ministry seeks to engage stakeholders in assessing progress made against the reforms.
During the last few years, focus has been place on various reforms and key interventions necessary to achieve the targets of the ESP 2010-2020, and the revised ESP 2018-2030.
To keep up with the ever-changing world that we live in, assessing progress is necessary. This needs to be done in relation to research and practices that have the potential to improve access to quality education for all children in Ghana.
This is especially relevant with the current need to respond to the public health crisis of COVID-19 within the education sector and mitigate both the health and socio-economic impacts resulting from the virus, lockdowns and social distancing.
Lessons from the past and current initiatives and innovations abound. The current global situation offers a rich source of knowledge and experience that the Ministry could adapt and incorporate in assessing sector reforms in order to leapfrog the challenges that currently confront the sector to improve service delivery and achieve learning goals in record time.
With COVID-19 and school closures affecting the majority of children in the world, there is currently a huge amount of thinking, collaboration, innovation, experimentation and research occurring in Ghana and across all countries to enable education, teaching and learning to still happen in the context of COVID-19.
This combined presents a critical opportunity to have new conversations about education reform and delivery, assessing progress so far, and what needs to be changed in order to plan for the future.
The day followed by an Education Fair at the foyer of the conference centre. All implementing agencies of the Ministry will mount booths to showcase their achievements over the period 2017-2020.
The objective is to afford stakeholders and the general public the opportunity to assess sector performance and the delivery of programmes across all sub-sectors.
The second day will review and assess four(4) reform areas and the Ministry’s Covid-19 response through plenary session and panel discussions.
The panel discussions are intended to discuss progress and challenges in the specified reform areas and identify the next steps, with recommendations on the way forward.
Addressing the gathering, Mr Akufo-Adoo noted that education has been at the core of our desire and determination to make Ghana a better place for all of its citizens.
According to the President, the theme for this year’s NEW is particularly important, because it enables his government to pause and reflect on the reform gains that we have made in this crucial sector and assess their progress, with a view of building upon them whilst drawing important lessons, adding that “I dare say that in education, we have made some considerable progress.
He stated his government flagship Free Senior High School (SHS) educational programme, which the government rolled out in September 2017, and which we had promised the people of Ghana, has rapidly opened up access to senior high school education by enabling an extra 400,000 students enroll in Senior High School between the 2016/17 academic year and the 2019/20 academic year.
This, he stressed is most remarkable, and despite the challenges with implementation, Ghanaians have embraced this programme.
“Of course, education goes beyond access. That is why my government is committed to ensuring quality, relevant education that will produce confident, skilled global citizens ready and able to compete with their counterparts anywhere in the world.
“We have delivered free core text books, exercise books, provided remedial measures for students through academic interventions and introduced a 30% equity policy in SHS access, among others, in a bid to improve learning outcomes,” he noted.
Beyond the Free SHS educational programme, he indicated hat his administration has pursued other bold and transformative measures to address challenges that had hindered progress of the education sector for many years.
“We were convinced that those difficult decisions were critical to make access to education equitable and improve quality across board.
First, Basic Schools had high incidence of fees and levies, as the Capitation Grant amount of GHS 4.50 per child per year was said to be inadequate.
“Effective 2017/18 academic year, Capitation Grant amount was increased from GHS 4.50 per student per year to GHS 10.0 per student per year.The 122% increase in per capita Capitation Grant is expected to remove cost barriers to free access and provide schools with minimum amount of funds required to keep schools running.
“Second, we were confronted with an outdated curriculum. Indeed, attempts had been made in past years without success to revise the pre-tertiary curriculum as it is seen as key to the delivery of quality education. In 2017, we prioritized curriculum revision and pursued it aggressively.
“Within the period under review, KG – Primary curriculum was completed. Roll-out commenced in September 2019 when the 2019/2020 academic year started,” he mentioned,
With the revised curricular, he noted that emphasis has been placed on the acquisition of foundational reading, writing, arithmetic and creativity skills.
In the Technical, Vocational, Education and Training (TVET) sub-sector, he noted that his government was confronted with the challenge of poor coordination, different management structures and governance arrangement that affected the development of TVET and skills training sub-sector.
Given the potential of TVET to propel our national development, he said they had a big vision for the sub-sector. We have within the period put together a 5-year TVET strategic plan that is guiding the development on the TVET and skills training front.
As part of my government’s efforts to revamp and mainstream Technical, Vocational Education and Training in this country, he asserted that a Technical and Vocational Education Service (TVES) is to be set up under the Ministry of Education.
According to him, the purpose of the agency is to provide focused attention on this important sector, in line with our vision of a skilled country ready to provide the manpower needs for its industrialization drive.
He indicated the Pre-Tertiary Bill which will establish and allow for the operationalization of the TVES is currently before Parliament.
He pointed out that the government is also pursuing several initiatives, including the MyTVET campaign, to address and reverse the negative connotations that TVET has suffered in this country, and we have invested over $700m in retooling, refurbishing and constructing TVET institutions across the country.
“At the tertiary level, we met a sector without a guiding policy direction. Consequently, tertiary education had developed without proper guidance as expansion was not properly coordinated.
“Within the period, we took on the challenge and developed a National Tertiary Education Policy with extensive stakeholder consultations,” Mr Akufo-Adoo stated.
He added that they are strengthening the school inspection framework through the National Schools Inspectorate Authority, hitherto known as the National Inspectorate Board.
He said his government is improving on management and accountability systems to ensure that school managers are empowered to deliver improved learning outcomes and take responsibility for those outcomes. We continue to invest in school infrastructure and teaching and learning materials.
He stressed that all these important reforms will come to nought without engaging the teacher, for the simple reason that the teacher is at the centre of the education system as the frontline deliverer and enabler of quality learning outcomes.