Posted by: rumnet | April 2, 2012

Falling Educational Standards In The North

Stakeholders Propose Strategies to address problems

(Published in the March 2012 edition of the advocate)

Staff Writer

The quality of educational standards in the three regions of the North – Upper West, Upper East and Northern Regions – continue to fall freely most especially at the basic schools level as though there are no measures at all being put in place to address the worsening situation.

Annual students’ performances in the Northern Sector of the country at the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) have been very abysmal in the last few years.

For instance, the Tamale Metropolitan Assembly in the Northern Region in particular, between 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010, secured 60th, 69th, 88th, 91st, 89th, 98th and 103rd positions respectively, out of the 134 Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) nationwide whose pupils also wrote the BECE throughout those periods.

There may be measures being put in place to address the issues that are confronting education in Northern Ghana, but some stakeholders think that such measures perhaps are not aggressive enough or effective to deal with the problems.

At an education policy dialogue workshop on teacher deployment organized in Tamale by the Volunteer Services Overseas (VSO) an international non-governmental organization, varied opinions and reasons from astute participants were assigned to the continuous falling educational standards in basic schools in the North.

Leading the debate, a tutor of the St John Bosco College of Education in the Upper East Region, William Atindana, said there was pure discrimination with regards to the use of the quota system in the admission of students at the various Colleges of Education across the country, describing the system as unfair which needs to be reviewed by policymakers in order to boost the number of teachers in basic schools in the North.

He cited that St John Bosco College of Education, like other colleges in the North, was allowed to admit only 280 students every academic year under the quota system, whereas colleges in the Southern part of the country were admitting more than 280 students annually.

According to Mr. Atindana, St John Bosco College could admit as much as 400 students every year if given the chance, because classroom and dormitory accommodations were available to house that number of students.

Contributing to the debate, Alhaji Adam Zakaria, Principal of the Bagabaga College of Education in Tamale, bemoaned the situation whereby teacher trainees were now paid as much as GH¢270.00 as monthly allowance.

In his view, it would have been far-sighted if government had maintained the GH¢70.00 previously paid as allowance and rather, review the quota system of Colleges of Education upwards so that more teachers could be trained to fill growing vacancies in schools across the country.

“I don’t think that teacher trainees need that much as allowance and perhaps, the only time a teacher trainee needs money so urgently is when he/she first gains admission into the college. “When they gain admission, they need money to pay fees and buy other learning materials which some of them are not able to afford”, Alhaji Zakaria observed.

The Principal hinted that government was likely to stop paying teacher trainees allowances, following a decision to upgrade all Colleges of Education in the country to tertiary status (diploma/degree awarding institutions), thus making them autonomous.

Alhaji Zakaria and Mr. Atindana both agreed that the decision by government to stop paying teacher trainees might be good, but admitted that it would have serious adverse impact on teacher trainee education in Northern Ghana where poverty is still chronic and standards of education growing worse by the day.

They appealed to stakeholders in education in the North to begin making clarion calls on government to make it a policy to consider teacher trainees in colleges in the North to continue to benefit from allowances so as to enable more people have the desire to go into teaching, otherwise educational standards in the area would maintain the nose dive.

Other participants held the view that the lack of social amenities including electricity, internet facilities, decent accommodation, safe drinking water, means of transport, tarred roads among others, in rural areas, were the reasons why teachers refused postings to such places. They argued that even if teachers who are posted to rural areas are paid so well, the non-availability of such facilities would not motivate some of them to accept postings to village schools.

The participants also observed that most Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) were paying lip service to teacher trainee education with regards to scholarships given to interested persons who apply for sponsorship every year. They noted that whereas some MMDAs could pay as much as GH¢200.00 to a student per each academic year as scholarship package, others pay as little as GH¢40.00 or GH¢50.00 which is woefully inadequate and did not motivate such students to stay in the district to teach after completion.

Participants suggested that MMDAs in the North should increase scholarship packages for teacher trainees so that they could come back to teach after completion of their course. Also, MMDAs, traditional authourities and parents should endeavour to provide accommodation for teachers who are posted to teach in their respective districts.

They also appealed to the government to allow colleges of education continue with the Untrained Diploma in Basic Education (UTDBE) programme so as to have more pupil teachers upgraded in their skills and knowledge. Also, government should consider reposting teachers in the urban areas to rural areas since most schools in such places are choked with some subject areas having more than one teacher to teach whereas most schools in the rural areas did not have teachers in some subject areas.

The Deputy Upper East Regional Minister, Lucy Awuni, who was the only policymaker to attend the workshop, although invitations were sent to all Regional Ministers, Members of Parliament and District Chief Executives in the three regions, challenged Parent Teacher Associations/School Management Committees and chiefs to take full charge of the management of schools in their localities by ensuring effective monitoring and supervision. This, she said, would complement the efforts of officials of the Ghana Education Service who have been compounded with a lot of work to do.

According to Mrs. Awuni, parents and chiefs have a role to play to make sure that their wards were educated well because some teachers especially the females were business people who concentrated on their business to the detriment of their classroom work. “In the same way we have children who are naughty to the extent that they dodge class work or refuse to attend school because their parents do not monitor them”, she added.

The education policy dialogue workshop in Tamale, which sought to discuss and seek practical solutions to key challenges that affect the education of poor children especially in the North, revolved around a five year education project being implemented by VSO in some selected districts in the three regions of the North.

The project dubbed “Tackling Education Needs Inclusively (TENI)” aims to achieve systemic change in education by improving transition, completion and quality of basic education for disadvantaged children, particularly girls in Northern Ghana.

In its third year of implementation. TENI is reaching out to about 48,000 children mostly very poor girls and children with disability from West Mamprusi District in the Northern Region, Talensi-Nabdam District in the Upper East Region and Jirapa District in the Upper West Region.

According to Mr. Eric Duorinaah, TENI Project Coordinator, these are the categories of children who mostly are at risk of missing school and also receive the least in terms of quality teaching and learning, adding; “TENI is also supporting to offer in-service training to about 2,000 teachers; supporting the management capacity of about 271 education managers and head-teachers as well as assessing the performance of pupils leading to action plans that improve learning.”

While commending the government for all the ongoing initiatives to improve teacher availability, distribution and motivation, he noted that there were mixed results related to the number of teachers deployed, pattern of distribution, quality of teachers that are in rural schools and importantly the level of attention that is paid to the motivation of teachers.

The TENI Project Coordinator also observed that rural schools still continued to receive less and less attention in terms of the numbers, the qualification and some of the incentives that are in place, warning that if urgent action is not taken quality teaching and learning would continue to be poor.

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Responses

  1. mention is left with the use youth employment teachers who most have no qualification.All don’t go to puntual because they are not paid.


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