According tochapter 5: article 25;clause(1a) of Ghana’s 1992 constitution, “Basic education shall be free, compulsory and available to all”. Still in thesame constitution, clause (1e) of article 25 also affirms “the development of a system of schools with adequate facilities at all levels shall be actively pursued”. Notwithstanding this, it appears what is written in the constitution is not the reflection of reality of schools at the countryside.
Although governments before and after independent prioritize education, much work hasn’t been done and seen since 1957. To many,“Education which is the key to success” has lingered their minds as they strive to reach the higher heights despite their geographical locations.
A glance at each political party’s manifesto especially the NDC and the NPP in no particular order havemade several rosy policies regarding development of education in Ghana.
One question that still remain unanswered is What exactly are our policy makers not doing right? Or Whatrole arethe citizens not playing right to ensure there is at least equal and quality education across the country?
Communities are still struggling for infrastructures to support comfortable teaching and learning. The unfortunate educational category which suffers the most when it comes to adequate development is the basic sector.
There is no doubt some basic schools in this country most especially those in remote communities are struggling.What then happens to the basic right of all persons expected to have equal access to education and opportunities as stipulated in Article 25 clause1 of Ghana’s constitution. While others are yet to feel sheltered classroom with adequate learning materials, the Greater Accra region is gradually chocked with mushroom schools.
Glancing through the 2016 manifesto in the educational segment of the New Patriotic Party, the president,Akuffo Addo reiterated “I will ensure that kindergarten places are available for all four-year old children in the country. I will Improve the facilities and the curriculum for ICT education at all levels or offices around”.
This among other interesting promises towards the educational sector brought hope to many including myself. One would have thought that these laborious promises are seeing the light of the day within the first or the second year of this administration but it is the same chorus. Some will say it is even worse because no single improvement has been given to majority of basic schools in the countryside. I was devastated when I saw future leaders learning under a shed made with palm and coconut branches during my visit to Sogakofe in the Volta region earlier last month. As June-July approach, I am only wondering how these schools will survive during this raining season.
I am still in dilemma as to whether there are facilities conducive to promote effective, quality teaching and learning activities in some other areas except Sogakofe.
On contrary the National Democratic Congress NDC in their 2012 manifesto under the educational sector promised “eliminating the remaining 60% of identified schools under trees” and in the 2016 manifesto they stated that “A total of 1,614 out of 2,578 basic school projects have been completed under the removal of Schools-Under-Trees programme, providing brick and mortar shelter for 484,200 pupils”.What then happens to the 964 basic schools under trees? This is where citizens need the media to mobilize their voices by holding government and its agencies to their words.
Not long ago, pictures of some basic students writing exams under appalling condition went viral. Politics was made with the above condition and it dies down the drain. Who then speaks for the deprived schools that compete with luxury schools in the metropolitan writing same exams?
Though every four years’parents living inthese areas go to the poll to elect their representatives including president, it appears they suffer the most after every election as no solution is done to salvage their educational crisis.
Aside theinfrastructure challenge in these deprived communities, studying information communication technology is another hellthey are battling with as there are no lights nor computers to facilitate learning.Acquiring basic skills in information technology is hectic for pupils in these schools. Likewise, nothing motivates teachers who are trained both in the village and the city to teach in these communities.
While there is lack of incentive and motivation hindering teaching and learning, there is absolutely nothing in these villages that enthusedtrained teachers to accept posting to theseareas. I begin to wonder most time the equal right of citizens to educational opportunities and facilities as discussed in the constitution of Ghana.
Mostly, people preach of the youth and children being the future leaders but how can these pupils grow up in a terrible and inequality condition to hold the baton of this country when access to quality education is in limbo? Does it mean that leadership position will always remain to the elites because they are the only ones who have the means to educate their children under serene environment?
I am sad as to why up till now the Ghana Education Service (GES) hasn’t devise any special means to segment types of examination to schools based on the facility available. In writing Basic Education Certificate Examination, there is no special treatment given to pupils from remote communities lacking basic learning materials. Sadly, they all sit, write same questions under similar condition with no mercy for the deprived communities. How can someone hasn’t seen or held computer before undertake an ICT examination? What will he or she writes?
As part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’S) each country under the united nations is expected to achieve the 17 goals by 2030. The fourth goal of the SDG’S which focus on quality education isn’t left out of the conversation. And as such target have been set out to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. Though 2030 seems to be far from now, my fear is that many will go through these years without knowing what quality education is. Many schools will still be under the trees if no one wakes up now.
By: Josephine Aku Selorm Gator
A student of Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ) Ghana