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General News
Ghana''s 50th Anniversary and its Educational System 3/22/2007
GNA Feature by Kwode Paul Achonga

Tamale, March 21, GNA - The rest of Africa is joining Ghana to celebrate her 50th independence anniversary. Fifty years of nationhood is not a mean achievement in terms of economic, political, social and cultural, as well as educational development in a nation''s history. The name of Ghana is undoubtedly synonymous with Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, the First President.

The country has come a very long way and has stood tall among other African countries.

Historically, Ghana, formerly known as the Gold Coast, traces its origin to the Ancient Ghana Empire that flourished in the area occupied by present day Mali. It was great trading Empire from the ninth century through to 13th century and was reputed to be one of the strongest in those days and had a rich culture and civilisation. Education and indeed, civilization really started in the province of Timbuktu. There was the University of Sankore long before the arrival of the White Man in Africa.

Records have it that in 1529, the Portuguese who were the first to come to Ghana had educational plans for the people of the Gold Coast. King John III in the same year instructed the Governor at Elmina to provide reading, writing and religious teaching for African children. By 1818, there were 139 schools in the Gold Coast with one in Cape Coast and two in Accra being under the management of the Colonial Government. The Basel Mission had 47 schools, the Methodist 84 schools, and the Bremen Mission four schools while the Roman Catholic had one. By the 1850 education in the Gold Coast had taken roots.

The history of formal education goes back as far as the Europeans came to live among the people of the colony as an essential part of their missionary programmes and the mercantile activities. It was seen as a means of getting interpreters, teachers and clerks. By the 20th century, pressure for more and better schools became the order of the day. The demand for higher education especially secondary schools were more pressing as many Africans were not able to foot the cost of sending their children overseas for further education. However it was not long before the material advantages of education came to be acknowledged. It was only those with formal education, who could hope for employment as teachers, clerks, or interpreters. It thus offered the prospects of a regular salary, increased authority, prestige and a possible chance of a trip to Europe.

Ghana inherited its post-independence educational system from Britain, her Colonial Masters, which has in one way, or the other impacted positively on the educational standards in post independence period.

The quality of the educational standards at that time was acclaimed to be of the same standard to that of the British and most of the country''s leaders both past and present have had the opportunity to be enrolled in universities in London.

However, somewhere along the line, after the overthrow of the First Republic Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah''s vision, mission and all that it took to make Ghana the heaven of African and black dignity evaporated. The country after 50 years of independence is still struggling to frame up an educational policy that would meet its developmental aspirations.

What good and quality educational policy does mother Ghana want its children to have especially now that she is almost 50 years old? Who is to be blamed for the lapses in the educational system? Why are graduates and products of her educational institutions unemployed? Efforts have been made to address the situation to no avail. The Senior High and Junior High Schools Educational Policy would soon come to replace the current system but the fear being entertained by experts on educational reforms in Ghana is that the new policies would rather worsen the situation instead of improving upon it.

The failure of most policies is at the implementation stages according to Experts. Nicely initiated and formulated policies may end up as a mirage if the implementation is not carefully thought through. Ghanaians who are already poorly paid would not take kindly if their taxes are thrown into policies, which in the long run may not improve on the standard of living but worsen the already precarious situation. Do policy makers have any better story to tell about the standard of education in Ghana and graduate unemployment? All seems to be well with the newly introduced Youth and Employment Programme, which seems to at least bring some relief to the educated youths but will it stand the test of time? And can it be sustained especially when credibility questions have been raised about its partisanship.

The Government Spokesperson on Social Services, Mr Kofi Amponsah-Bediako told this Writer in a telephone interview that Jubilee Schools were to be established as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations explaining that some kindergartens and primary schools would be built out of the 20 million dollars budgeted for the celebrations adding that some works had already started in some districts.

In his opinion, the quality of the educational standards in the country were not the best saying that a lot of people had not had the opportunity of higher education because of the numerous challenges they faced at the basic and secondary levels where some did not even have learning materials like textbooks and had to study in poor environments. Mr Amponsah-Bediako said the accessibility to schools in the country was marginal resulting in high illiteracy rate and that there was much more to be done to improve the quality and access to schools. Explaining the rationale for the introduction of the proposed Junior High and Senior High, he said due to poor performances of the Senior and the Junior Secondary School Systems, "competent technical experts" who proposed the new system said the number of subjects at the junior schools should be reduced to six and that the senior secondary should be four years instead of the current two-and-a-half years. In the 2007 Budget Statement Mr Kwadwo Baah Wiredu, Minister of Finance, maintained that the Government had continued with the programme of increasing access to basic education and implemented measures geared towards the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) target of Universal Primary Education by 2015 and Gender Parity by 2008. He added that various enrolments drives including the implementation of the Capitation Grant Scheme and School Feeding Programme were introduced to remove barriers to enrolment and to encourage participation and attendance.

He pointed out that as a result of these initiatives, the enrolment at the basic level increased by 16 per cent at the primary level; it grew from 87.5 per cent in 2004/2005 to 92.1 per cent in 2005/2006. In addition, the Gender Parity Index also grew from 0.93 in 2004/2005 to 0.95 in 2005/2006.

Ghanaians may not be satisfied with figures and as such nothing should be done to give the least of impression that someone was merely trying to paint a glossy picture of educational standards in the country.

The Nation''s human resource and capacity building is paramount in its efforts to become a middle income country by the year 2015 to enable it take its rightful place in the comity of nations. The Government has fortunately identified this as a major priority and one hopes that as the country celebrates its 50 years of nationhood it would redouble efforts to build this country into a united and prosperous one.Source:

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