Govt To Distribute Free 10,000 Pairs Of Sandals To Pupils

The government will this year begin the free distribution of 10,000 pairs of locally made school sandals to pupils in selected deprived districts of the country, President John Dramani Mahama has said.

Delivering the State of the Nation Address to Parliament yesterday, he said the move was in line with efforts to create opportunities for all children of school age to have access to quality education.

Other items that will be distributed to schoolchildren included six million textbooks, 500,000 school uniforms, 15 million exercise books and 30,000 computers.

He spoke about the need to involve local companies in the printing of the books and said he had instructed the Ministry of Education to that effect.

President Mahama also spoke passionately about giving young Ghanaians the education that would give them a place on the job market.

Increased enrolment
Touting the government’s achievements in education, President Mahama said "there are more children in school now than ever before".

"At the close of the 2013/2014 academic year, over 5.4 million children enrolled at the basic education level. This compares to a total of 4.6 million in the 2008/2009 academic year," he explained.

The President indicated that 24,117 out-of-school children were also enrolled under the Complementary Basic Education  (CBE) programme which took off in the Northern, Upper East, Upper West and Brong Ahafo regions in 2014.

This year, the programme would be extended to the remaining six regions, with an additional 100,000 children hooked on to it,” he said.

Role of teachers 
President Mahama took notice of the important role teachers played in the education drive and said about 160,000 teachers received career development training last year, while another 1,000 received in-service training in Science and Mathematics, adding that the interventions would be pursued with all seriousness.

"We envisage that this will help us meet the 60:40 ratio in favour of the sciences as against the humanities," he said.

The President said a 1:1 gender parity ratio had been realised and over 21,000 girls in the four regions of northern Ghana had benefitted from the take-home ration programme.

“An additional 55,000 junior high school (JHS) girls had also benefitted from the Global Partnership Programme,” he said.

Making reference to the school shift system, which was a major headache to many communities, Mr Mahama said it had now been eliminated in many areas, including Wa, Sunyani, Tarkwa, Dansoman and Krachi Nchumuru.

Senior high school education 
He mentioned the increased enrolment in senior high school (SHS) education by about 10 per cent between 2013 and 2014 and the provision of 1,000 infrastructure projects, ranging from dormitories, classrooms, dining halls, auditoriums and administration blocks, had been executed in SHSs in the country.

Work on the 73 community day SHSs was progressing steadily, the President said, adding that this year other projects would be implemented under the $136-million secondary education improvement programme.

Free education 
He re-stated the government’s readiness to roll out the progressively free SHS education programme in the next academic year with 367,565 day students.

The announcement of free education led the Majority side to point to the other side of the House with shouts of "Hear wisdom, hear wisdom".

He said emphasis was being placed on the training of high calibre manpower that could fit into the development scheme of the country.

President Mahama said the process to establish a public university in the Eastern Region was on course, while the two universities already established by the NDC government in the Brong Ahafo and Volta regions were doing well. 

He mentioned plans to convert the Wa and the Navrongo campuses of the University for Development Studies (UDS) into autonomous universities.

Not oblivious of the power of ICT in driving the world, he said investments were being made in the sector and that a $37.5-million project on distance ICT education had been put in place by the University of Ghana linking all the 10 regional distance education centres.

Other projects and programmes
The President also spoke about the conversion of polytechnics into technical universities, the establishment of a research fund for lecturers and the development of technical and vocational education.