Speakers at the joint Citi TV/Citi FM and Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences education forum are worried about the existential barriers to accessing all levels of education in the country despite years of continuous efforts in bridging the gap.
The virtual forum which was themed “Reducing barriers to accessing education in Ghana” discussed widening inclusion in Ghana’s educational sector.
Resource persons for the forum included Amankwa Asiamah, the chair of the Select Committee on Education in Parliament; Michael Nsowah, a former Director-General of GES; Joyce Larnyoh the Chair of CSOS Platform on SDG 4 and Kofi Asare, the Executive Director of the Africa Education Watch.
For them, the huge physical, infrastructural and financial barriers continue to be a major hindrance to the inclusion needed to make education available to all children of school-going age.
Mr. Nsowah who opened the forum provided a historical background on what Ghana has done to reduce barriers to education tracing it as far back as the introduction of the Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) in 1966 leading to the abolishment of school payment and provision of free textbooks and meals all in a bid for children of school-going age to be found in the classroom.
On her part, Joyce Larnyoh was strong on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the education of many particular the girl-child and other challenges impeding the education of girls.
She called for collaboration among relevant agencies as well as awareness creation for some gains to be made.
“The issue is quite big, and we need to look at it holistically. We should talk about these issues with some inter-agency collaboration and address the issues. My emphasis is on what COVID-19 has brought and the matters arising on the education of the school girls. The mantra of we are not leaving anyone behind including disability and inclusion is something we have to address.”
Kofi Asare, the Executive Director of the Africa Education Watch among other things proposed heavy investment in rural basic school infrastructure to achieve parity between nurseries, primary and Junior High Schools (JHS).
He also asked the government to re-focus education infrastructure budgets from basic to Senior High Schools (SHS).
The chair of the Select Committee on Education in Parliament, Amankwa Asiamah was of the view that teachers who are at the centre of the education sector ought to be treated well.
While acknowledging the strides Parliament has made to improve the access and quality of education in Ghana, he stressed the need to have qualified and motivated teachers, especially in rural communities.
“There is a total lack of trained teachers in our villages. It is sad and pathetic that we don’t have enough qualified teachers despite the investment we have made in education. The government budget for education is woefully inadequate for us to meet our educational needs. Not until the teacher is motivated in our economic system, we will always have lapses in our educational system.”
Purpose of forum
The speakers handled issues concerning the oversight of the education sector, its policy framework, gender and inclusion issues and assessing the effectiveness of the institutional and policy framework.
The forum was moderated by the host of the Citi Breakfast Show, Bernard Avle.
It identified layers of discrimination or lack of opportunity that inadvertently deny students the right to be educated and make proposals of how to address them.
The Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences is proposing a widening of the public discussion to ensure that the country’s educational system really becomes the engine for driving SDG4.