Posted by: rumnet | July 2, 2010

Boost to Girls Education

Boost to Girls Education

as their needs are tackled by VSO

(Published in the June edition of TheADVOCATE)

By Bernice Agyekwena

Beneficiaries of the TENI project

Forty eight thousand school children in three districts of the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions are to benefit from a 4.5 million pound innovation package in education.

The ten year innovation project, dubbed ‘Tackling Educational Needs Inclusively’ (TENI) is being funded by Comic Relief and the Volunteer Services Organisation (VSO). It would be implemented on a pilot basis in the Talensi Nabdam District in the Upper East Region, the Jirapa District in the Upper West Region and the West Mamprusi District in the Northern Region under the first phase which covers a five year period from 2009 to 2013.

The project involves a holistic approach to education in response to a myriad of problems militating against education in the three regions. These include low enrolment levels, low academic performance of school children in schools and a high dropout rate.

The Annual Education Sector Report for the 2008-2009 academic year indicates that 58.5 percent of candidates who wrote the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) in the Northern Region failed in Mathematics while 60.3 percent failed in English. In addition, only 10 percent of Children who reach primary six can read with understanding.

Besides, not all who enroll in primary one stay in school long enough to write their BECE; girls have a completion rate of 52 percent while boys have a completion rate of 67 percent at the JHS level.

TENI would attempt to tackle some of the root causes of low enrolment, poor performance and a high dropout rate in schools such as poverty barriers, socio-cultural beliefs, school environment and quality teaching. Due to the linkages that exist between the livelihoods of women and their ability to educate their children, the socio-economic status of women will be strengthened by linking them with various livelihood interventions. This will pave the way for them to support their children’s education by enrolling them in schools and providing them with what they need to perform well and remain in school until they attain a career.

The project will also attempt to revamp the educational sector in beneficiary communities by building the capacity of 2000 teachers, including 500 national volunteer teachers, to support children to learn and to mentor them. In addition, the capacity 237 head teachers and circuit supervisors will be enhanced to support and mentor teachers in 80 percent of basic schools in the three participating districts.

TENI will also build up the management capacity of the various district directorates of education to enable them to carry out their supervisory and monitoring roles of educational institutions more effectively so as to address school and community based barriers to the education of girls and children with disabilities.

At the community level, community leaders will be sensitized to appreciate education and adopt the necessary steps to promote education in their various communities. Additionally, the capacity of district assemblies will be strengthened to coordinate educational activities in their respective districts.

Launching the first phase of the project at Walewale, Mr John Dramani Mahama, Vice President, urged parents and communities in the catchment area to embrace and support the project, the VSO and her implementing partners by carrying out their expected roles.

“Communities should take an interest and participate in the running of their schools. Often communities stand aloof and think that schools are the responsibility of government, the district assemblies and teachers. Yet experience indicates that where communities have participated in the running of schools, it has led to an improvement in the quality of education”, he said

Mr. Mahama declared that government welcomes the complementary role played by Non-governmental organizations in development; especially in deprived communities and the VSO has been a true partner in education for over 50 years. “Your high quality international volunteers have been instrumental in improving quality teaching and learning which has culminated in the designing of TENI”, he said.

The Vice President said Since TENI is based on the belief that change can only come from within the individual and the communities; it fits into the vision of the governments new educational plans. Government would therefore provide the needed policies and environment to ensure its success.

He regretted that most people fail to give their children’s education the priority that it deserves because they cannot fathom the value associated with education. Hence, in the face of limited resources, education is often sacrificed for less rewarding activities due to ignorance.

“We have men who think they are entitled to a bottle of beer a day and would prefer to do that rather than save to pay their children’s school fees and we have women who would rather buy wax prints, an array of cooking utensils and pyrex bowls stocked up to the ceiling of their rooms than save towards their children’s education”, he said.

However, quality education remains the bedrock for eliminating poverty and sustaining development since it has a liberating influence on the minds of its beneficiaries, therefore bringing them into the mainstream of development. Most parents today have no excuse anymore for not sending their children to school because of the capitation grant and other strategies such as the provision of free school uniforms and free exercise books aimed at making education more affordable to the poor and deprived.

Mr. Mahama said there was the need for all to bear in mind that the task of providing quality and timely education for all children by 2015, which is one of the millennium goals, is a huge task whose responsibility falls not only on government but also on teachers, communities and the district assemblies.

In this regard, the fate of over 800, 000 Ghanaian children of school going age who are not in school as a result of ignorance, lack of infrastructure, outdated customary beliefs and practices, refusal of teachers to accept postings to deprived areas,  among several  others should be a worry for all.

He decried the fact that most young girls abandon their education to engage in Kayaye in the south in search of money. These girls, he said, are normally lured and attracted by the glittering things that those who have already engaged in kayaye bring back to show off in their communities.

They are however not aware of the deplorable conditions under which these girls live in the city, which is undignified and humiliating. Some sleep outside in the open air while others beg to sleep in kiosks and other structures not meant for accommodating human beings. “I will prefer my poverty in dignity than wealth in humiliation”, Mr. Mahama told the crowd of pupils, teachers, education officers and chiefs who had gathered to witness the occasion.



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