Delivering on our promises
In the past, a country’s natural resources determined its level of economic development. European countries developed during the industrial based on the raw materials that they received from their colonies. However, century later, this narrative has changed. A functional education that trains and equip citizens with critical thinking and ability to engineer solution is what has become the game changer. The Minister of Education, Hounourable Dr. Mathew Opoku Prempeh, captures this succinctly when he says, “A nation’s most valuable resource is not its gold, diamond or timber. It is its human resources.” Flowing from this, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government led by the President, H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has introduced a number of policies since assuming office in January 2017 with the aim of raising new breed of well informed and prepared human resources for the development of the country that would be able to compete at the global level.
This article focuses of some of the achievements this government has chalked in the last few years it has been in office. The achievements will center around these four sectors; Basic, Secondary, TVET and Tertiary.
With the plans of transforming the educational sector and make it drive Ghana’s socio-economic transformation, the NPP government started engaging stakeholders in the development of new curriculum for basic school in 2017. Under the new curriculum, the subjects are integrated into themes reducing the subjects taught at the KG level from seven (7) to four (4). The thematic areas for KG are Numeracy, Literacy, Creative Arts and Our World, Our People (citizenship). The numbers of subjects to be studied at the primary level, however, remains the same. The focus of this new Standard Based Curriculum (SBC) is on Numeracy and Literacy. In the new curriculum, History of Ghana as a subject is compulsory for each child from Primary One to Six, while Religious and Moral Education (RME) and Physical Education (PE) would each be a stand-alone (separate) subject. While PE is a stand-alone subject that will be taught practically, French as a language is to be taught at the upper primary.
For the first time, this new Standard Based Curriculum came along with national assessments for pupils in Primary Two, Four and Six. The aim is to track their achievement progress to allow for regular feedback and appropriate remedial interventions to be given at the right time. Currently, the The introduction of the new curriculum also saw the recruitment of the largest numbers of trainers in the history of curriculum reforms. A core of 150 master trainers were recruited and trained by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NaCCA) with the aim of them also training 3,900 regional trainers and these trainers will also be expected to administer curriculum training to clusters of KG and Class Six teachers across the country.
Through legislation, government plans to change basic education to include senior High. That is, one can only be given a certificate of completion after graduating from senior High, Vocational and Technical schools. This also means that public education is free from kindergarten to senior high.
As part of measures to improve access and quality education, the Ministry continues to invest in infrastructure in the basic schools. Recently, the government secured US$1.5billion loan through the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund). The aim is to use US$500 million to complete all GETFund projects at 70% completion. Another US$500 million is to be used to improve basic education infrastructure across the country. Again, the government is constructing over 200 new Model Kindergarten across the length and breath of the country.
In 2019, to enhance monitoring and supervision at the basic education level across the country, the government handed over 365 Pick-ups to education directorates. About 260 were handed to district, municipal and metropolitan education offices. Another 105 also went to the Ministry of Education and its agencies to enhance their operations.
Government is improving and ensuring the prompt payment of salaries for newly recruited teachers, and has abolished the three months salary arrears payment cap introduced by the previous government. The previous government introduced a policy of paying only three months salary of teachers notwithstanding the number of months you have worked. For example, if a teacher works for 24 months and if the salary payment were to delay as it used to be a regular occurrence with the previous administration, affected teachers would only be compensated with three out of the twenty four months that they have worked. The current administration ensures that newly trained teachers are paid latest six months since their start of work. On top of these, the government in 2019 released GHC 49 million to pay arrears (legacy arrears) inherited from the previous government due to its failure to pay teachers full salaries. In 2018, the government released over GHC14 million to pay for the outstanding transfer grants, allowances and salary arrears of validated teachers engaged between January 2013 and December 2016.
To ensure fairness, effectiveness and efficiency, the Ghana Education Service introduced an aptitude test to replace interview during promotion. The aim of the new promotion reform is GES staff who applied for promotion every year went through the process fairly, transparently and based on competence. The switch to aptitude tests for promotion has been necessitated by the large number of petitions the GES received every year from teachers which entailed performance appraisals and interviews used for promotions but allegedly fraught with victimisation and corruption. The Ghana Education Service (GES), May 2020, promoted 18,475 teachers who sat for the maiden Promotion Aptitude Test on February 20 and 21, this year to various grades within the service. The promoted teachers represent 61.0 per cent of the 30,280 who were shortlisted for the test. It is worthy to note that most of the newly promoted staff have been put on scale and received their allowance while the few with issues are expected to be paid in June, 2020.
TAKE HOME UNDER BASIC EDUCATION
- The new curriculum seeks to address content overload. That is to reduce the subjects the kids learn in school. This is very common in advanced countries.
- It also addresses the issue of assessment. This is the first time pupils would be assessed nationally from primary 2, 4 and 6 before they sit for the BECE. This is to help track their progress and find solutions to challenges at the early stages.
- This new curriculum places much emphasis on acquisition of Reading, Writing, Arithmetic and Creative skills.
- The focus is shifted from preparing pupils to pass exams which is not in tandem with the national development goals of the country to literacy and numeracy with the new curriculum.
- With the reintroduction of History of Ghana, pupils are in the early stages of their lives, know the roles they have to play in building Ghana.
- Government has also redefined Basic Education to include Senior High Education. This means that pupils can only graduate after completing Senior High, Vocational and Agriculture schools.
- Government is also building about 200 new kindergarten structures. This means more kids will not only go to schools but will have a modern facility to learn in.
- Government, through GETFund has secured US$1.5 billion to improve infrastructure in our schools. This means more classrooms and educational facilities in the country. This will not only improve access but quality education as well.
- Government through the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) has presented a 365 double cabin Isuzu pickups and 493 motorbikes to the Ghana Education Service (GES) and other agencies under the Ministry of Education. It’s the expectation of government that these vehicles will go a long way to promote quality supervision in our schools to ensure improved learning outcomes. This is the first time a government has given such a number of logistics at once to the Ghana Education Service.
- Government has cleared arrears of teachers’ salary they met. Again, they have cleared promotion, allowance arrears they met. This will mean teachers will focus on teaching and have sound mind to do that.
- GES reforms its promotion structure to give qualified GES staff fair and equal opportunity of being promoted. This has led to over 18,000 staff who sat for the promotion examination being promoted. This allow staff of GES to not only receive salaries in tandem with their positions but also take new roles in the service.
TECHNICAL AND VOCATIONAL EDUCATION TRAINING
For many years, successive governments in Ghana paid minimal attention to technical and vocational education (TVET). This was largely an inherited practice from the colonial masters who proritised grammar education over TVET.
Technical and Vocational Education and Training has been identified as the missing link in Ghana’s development by the government. Germany, Turkey, China, Brazil, United States of America, Japan have all reaped substantial benefits from the investment they made in TVET. Before assuming office, the New Patriotic Party had a transformation agenda for the TVET sector; to improve TVET learning in the country. The government after assuming office rolled out a five-year strategic plan to improve TVET. As part of the plan, Technical and Vocational schools were to be constructed across the country to boost learning.
Already, Technical and Vocational schools under the Ministry of Education are benefiting from the government’s flagship policy; Free SHS. Plans are far advanced to include Technical and Vocational schools which are not under the direct control of the Ministry of Education in the Free SHS policy.
With government’s strategy to expand technical and vocational opportunities at both secondary and tertiary level and strengthen the linkages between education and industry, the government has aligned and brought all public TVET institutions in the country under the direct supervision of the Ministry of Education. This is to help streamline their curricular and improve coordination of their training with a full minister assigned to be responsible to Technical and Vocational Education.
As part of measures to improve TVET in the country, government plans to construct 20 modern Technical and Vocational Education and Training(TVET) institutions across the country. The plan is also to upgrade some 35 existing TVET institutions across the country.
The government in 2019, secured funds to enhance technical skills training. Fifteen technical institutions in the country benefitted from the facility with each receiving GHC50 million. This was to be used to construct state-of-the-art workshops for Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Automobile Engineering and Welding Engineering under the Technical Training and Upgrading Project. The Cape Coast, Kumasi, Sunyani and Tamale Technical universities and the Bolgatanga Polytechnic are among those to benefit from the programme.
The others are the TTI and the Ashaiman Technical Institute, both in the Greater Accra Region; the Komboni Technical Institute in the Volta Region and the Cape Coast Technical Institute in the Central Region. The rest are the St Paul’s Technical Institute, Kukurantumi in the Eastern Region; the Takoradi Technical Institute in the Western Region; the Kumasi Technical Institute in the Ashanti Region; the Bawku Technical Institute in the Upper East Region; the St Joseph’s Technical Institute in Saboba in the Northern Region and the Sunyani Methodist Technical Institute in the Bono Region. More than 30,000 students would benefit from the upgrading and retooling of the technical universities, polytechnics and vocational institutions.
Amongst all the work going on in this sector, the major one is the Overall Upgrading and Modernisation of Vocational Education System in Ghana. The project which costs US $131,657,198 has three components. The first component comprises the refurbishment of the existing infrastructure and construction of new infrastructure for the existing 34 NVTI centres; refurbishing the existing infrastructure and constructing of new Head office, 10 regional offices and 5 apprenticeship offices, provision of a 33-seater bus for each of the 34 NVTIs and 4X4 Pickups for Head Office and regional offices, procurement of equipments for 26 trades and ICT equipment for all 34 NVTI centres, course curriculum alignment and content development for 26 trades.
The second component of the project involves the setting up of two new training centres for foundry and machining workshops with one at the CSIR centre in Accra, and the other at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. It also includes the building and developing infrastructure for the two new vocational training centres. The last component comprises of the upgrading of existing Opportunity Industralization Centres in Greater Accra.
Again, government is constructing about 21 state of the art technical and vocational education training centres of excellence across the country with the construction of the first centre Anyinam, in the Eastern Region ongoing. This, according to President Akufo-Addo, is to make technical and vocational education accessible to all Ghanaian children. He made the announcement when he delivered the 2019 State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Thursday, February 21, this year.
“Young people have to have options on which career path they choose and I am glad to announce that all is set for the construction of ten state of the art technical and vocational education training centres this year,” he said. He said the centres will be world-class and attractive to assure young people that they are not being sent to second best options institutions.
Furthermore, 10 best Ten Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) centres are being built across the country to provide support for the teaching and learning of the two subjects in basic schools while additional 20 centres were expected to be established in 2020.
TAKE HOME FROM THE TVET SECTOR
- Technical and Vocational schools under the Ministry of education are benefiting from the government’s flagship policy; Free SHS.
- Fifteen Technical institutions in the country has benefitted from 750million cedis loan facility with each receiving 50 million Ghana cedes. This was to be used to construct state-of-the-art workshops for Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Automobile Engineering and Welding Engineering under the Technical Training and Upgrading Project.
- Overall Upgrading and Modernisation of Vocational Education System in Ghana. The project which costs US $131,657,198 has three components. The first component of the project comprises the refurbishment of the existing infrastructure and construction of new infrastructure for the existing 34 NVTI centres; refurbishing the existing infrastructure and constructing of new Head office, 10 regional offices and 5 apprenticeship offices, provision of a 33-seater bus for each of the 34 NVTIs and 4X4 Pickups for Head Office and regional offices, procurement of equipments for 26 trades and ICT equipment for all 34 NVTI centres, course curriculum alignment and content development for 26 trades.
- Government is constructing 10 STEM Centres with the aim of developing the interest of young people in Mathematics, Science and Technology also serve as a training centre for teachers handling these subjects.
- Government is constructing 21 new state of the art Technical and Vocational Training Centres of Excellence across the country. This offers many young people the opportunity in TVET to have well equipped facilities and centres to be trained.
The tertiary education sector has not been spared of the government’s transformation agenda. All the 46 diploma public teacher training awarding colleges have now been transformed into degree awarding institutions. The first batch of this cohorts of teachers were admitted in the 2018/2019 academic year. The essence of this transformation is to raise quality breed of teachers to feed into the primary schools. Now, students have the opportunity to select and study their preferred programs and where they want to teach.
One major causes of teacher abseenteism is due to record number of teachers who entered the service with diploma and are enrolled on a degree top program. Through this initiative, teachers who complete degree and enrol in the service, would not have divided attention. The introduction of the degree program is to reduce the number of years and cost use in attaining degree. All the 46 Colleges of Education are now affiliated to the five public Universities; University of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, University of Cape Coast, University of Education, Winneba and University of Development Studies. The programs to be run have three specialization. They are B.Ed Early Grade Teacher Education, B.Ed Upper Primary Education and B.Ed JHS Teacher Education programs with the latter having specialized subject areas.
Again, the government restored the teacher trainee allowance which was cancelled in 2014. Each of the trainees will receive GHC400 every month. While each trainee receives GHC 816 a semester (knowing that a semester is 4 months), GHC 784 is paid to the colleges per each semester to cater for feeding and utilities. The government expects to spend in total, 18 million cedes monthly on the projected number of students, with GHC 9.18 million going directly to trainees and GHC 8.82 million goes to the colleges directly for feeding and payment of utilities.
The government is also sponsoring Public University Bill of 2019 which aims to streamline and harmonize all public universities in the country. The bill seeks to remove the inconsistencies and lack of uniformity in the governance structure in our public universities.
In 2018, Parliament passed the University of for Business and Integrated Development Studies Bill. This transforms the existing campus of the University of Development Studies in Wa into a fully fledged university. The University is named after Simon Diedong Dombo, one of the industrious sons of Northern Ghana, a king, teacher, politician; who served asMinister of Health and then Interior during the Second Republic. This extends a publicly run university to the people of Upper West Region.
Meanwhile in 2018, cabinet gave approval for the Wa and Navorongo campuses to become autonomous. While the Wa campus would be known as University of Business and Integrated development Studies, the Navorongo campus would now be called University of Technology and Applied Sciences.
In 2017, the government restored book and research allowance paid to lecturers in our tertiary institutions. In addition to this, the government plans to establish the Ghana National Research Fund Act which the bill is currently before Parliament.
Again, the government promised to abolish the payment of utilities in tertiary institutions. The government promised in collaboration with the National Council for Tertiary Education to negotiate with utility providers and abolish this. The government has fulfilled this promise.
Moreover, the government through Parliament has added the Wa and Bolgatanga Polytechnics to the Technical Universities. The government in 2017 promised to assist the two institutions to address their challenges to meet the requirement. Parliament on Thursday, April 2, 2020 amended the Technical Universities Act (922) and converted these two polytechnics into technical universities.
Furthermore, in 2018, the government announced a 50% increment in loans given to students enrolled on the Students Loan Trust Fund. This is in fulfilment of a pledge made by the ruling government in 2016. In page 112 of the NPP Manifesto, the party promised that “They will also abolish the payment of utility bills by students. We will also increase the amount of loans under the Student Loan Scheme and restructure and streamline its administration to enhance recovery of loans”.
TAKE HOME ON TERTIARY EDUCATION
- All the 46 public Colleges of Education are now a four year degree awarding institutions. First batch of these students were admitted in 2018/2019 academic year. This means absenteeism in our schools will reduce as teachers will not leave schools for top up programs.
- Graduates from our Colleges of Education will now graduate with B.Ed Early Grade Teacher Education, B.Ed Upper Primary Education and B.Ed JHS Teacher Education programs with the latter having specialise subject areas.
- Allowance for Teacher Trainees has ben restored as promised by government.
- Book and Research allowance for lecturers in public Universities and Technical Universities restored.
- Payment of utility bills by tertiary institutions scrapped by the government.
- The government introducing the Public University Bill which aims to streamline all public Universities in the country. The aim is to manage and harmonise public all public universities. The bill seeks to remove the inconsistencies and lack of uniformity in the governance structure in our public universities.
- In 2018, the government announced a 50% increment in loans given to students enrolled on the Students Loan Trust Fund. This means more funds would be made available to qualified students to support their studies.
- Cabinet gave approval for the Wa and Navorongo Universities to become autonomous. While the Wa campus would be known as University of Business and Integrated DEVELOPMENT Studies, the Navorongo campus would now be called University of Technology and Applied Sciences. These approval were gazetted and approved by parliament in 2019. This means these universities are on their own. While this makes Upper West get their own University, it has increased the number of public universities to 10.
- Wa and Bolgatanga Polytechnics have been upgraded to Technical Universities. This makes the conversion of all polytechnics to Technical Universities complete.