It is said that “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance”. Education is a better driver of a nation’s economy than gold, oil, gas and such other natural resources. A well-educated people tend to be more prosperous as they apply their knowledge and understanding to industry, research and all fields of endeavor in a more productive and profitable manner.
The PPP wants to build a knowledgeable, technology-driven economy with industries that use the raw materials we produce. For these and other reasons, we must let IMANI know that educating all of our children is not an academic exercise. We cannot sign on to an elitist view of the world such as the one imagined by IMANI.
IMANI states that “Today, parents can ALREADY choose to send their children to day school and feed them at home; and provide extra-curricular offerings at their own cost, just as is the case in JHS and primary school. Nothing in the current system stops them from doing so.
All the evidence suggest, however, that when parents can afford the NON-TUITION costs, they opt to send their wards to boarding schools because of a belief that the environment is conducive to learning and the acquisition of social and even leadership skills.
There is no sound justification to rob parents of this preference in pursuit of some illusive notion of fee-free education, or to dismantle and rebuild such an elaborate system within the standard 4-year electoral mandate.”
How many parents already “choose to send their children to day school and feed them ….”? IMANI should step up its research and if they do, will find out that the parents the over 1.5 million children who failed BECE examinations and dropped out of school at that level lacked the ability to pay for extra-curricular offerings and tutoring to improve their chances for a better life.
In a country like Ghana, it is the responsibility of government to support its people by making it possible to get a better education.
IMANI again states that the free education we are proposing “… a) “it” won’t be free, all of us will be paying for it through transfers from our pocket to the government that will be used to fund it and: b) the money will be used to pay for things that parents have always been proud to provide for their wards.”
Well, that is what responsible citizens and governments do in the world. Citizens pay taxes so that governments can spend them on what will improve the competitiveness and prosperity of the nation and its people. Perhaps IMANI does not want us to have a government or a nation that cares for its people. The PPP does.
We really find it objectionable and amazing when IMANI states that, “Education is not like vaccination. It is not something you “give” to people. You create the right environment for people to acquire education.” This where we part ways.
We believe that the framers of our 1992 Constitution shared our belief that the goal of ensuring an educated and knowledgeable people is not negotiable. It is for this reason that Chapter Six of the Constitution - Directive Principles of State Policy makes clear the policy to be implemented by government in the area of education.
Section 38 of this Chapter in the Constitution reads as follows:
“38. (1) The State shall provide educational facilities at all levels and in all the Regions of Ghana, and shall, to the greatest extent feasible make those facilities available to all citizens.
(2) The Government shall, within two years after Parliament first meets after the coming into force of this Constitution, draw up a programme for implementation within the following ten years, for the provision of free, compulsory and universal basic education.
(3) The State shall, subject to availability of resources, provide –
(a) equal and balanced access to secondary and other appropriate pre-university education, equal access to university or equivalent education, with emphasis on science and technology;
(b) a free adult literacy programme, and a free vocational training, rehabilitation and resettlement of persons; and
(c) life-long education”
The PPP’s position is that in addition to our own progressive philosophy which makes it necessary for us to seek human development through education, our 1992 Constitution makes it a requirement on all administrations in Ghana to implement free, compulsory education at the basic level for all Ghanaian children. It is NOT a matter of choice, nor is it a policy alternative.
We believe that every law-abiding political party in Ghana must accept the challenge to present its plans for the implementation of free, compulsory education at the basic level. To us this is the minimum requirement but one that is not challenging enough and indeed one that will not help propel Ghana into the ranks of well-performing countries. To the PPP, free, compulsory education is a high priority that requires the shifting of other goals and objectives to ensure the continuing ability of government to fund expenditures in this area.
Our position is that Ghanaians must engage in a productive national debate on how to implement free, compulsory education through the Senior High School level and not engage in the self-destructing, unproductive and endless discussion on whether such a policy is feasible, practical or realistic. Political parties, think-tanks, research organisations and business groups should all contribute their ideas, knowledge and work to present solutions on HOW to make the goal of a high school education for every Ghanaian boy and girl a reality. This is what IMANI must do if they want to support the national interest.
We live in a competitive global village. We must not and cannot expect to wallow in ignorance and believe that somehow we will be able to attract the capital and industry that Ghana needs and gain the benefits that can be shared broadly in this country if our people do not have the needed skills and knowledge to offer high end local content. By necessity, we must compare our policy and practice in education to that of other nations. This comparative analysis shows that our current practice in this critical area is not forward looking enough and will further entrench our children and their children in poverty if we do not ensure a dramatic shift in education policy and practice.
It is obvious that our education system lacks the quality it deserves and this is worrying. If the issue of quality is not resolved, efforts to provide compulsory and continuous education will yield very little. To achieve quality, which is the basis for success, we need to solve these other related problems:
• Unattractive teaching profession, low teacher motivation, low teacher- students ratio
• Inadequate teaching facilities and instructional materials
• Poor supervision/monitoring
• Inadequate quality/quantity of educated people to meet current industry demands.
Our policy moves the minimum standard from “basic” meaning Junior High School to the Senior High School level. Currently, the terminal point for most children in Ghana is Junior High School and that happens usually after the taking the Basic Education Competency Examination (BECE) administered by the West Africa Examination Council. To ensure success, we will invest in the building of complete school compounds across the country including housing for teachers and the upgrading of teacher training institutions.
The orientation of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP) and our core beliefs about the world we live in are Progressive. This means we believe in broad-based human progress that is felt by the people. We believe that under our leadership, Ghana can move from a third world nation to a first world nation by working with a great sense of duty and urgency. All well-meaning Ghanaians MUST reject the elitist and nation-wrecking, backward-looking submissions of IMANI. ALL Ghanaian children have a right to good quality education from kindergarten to senior high school. The PPP will make that happen.
Source: Kofi Asamoah-Siaw
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