Current Date:August 10, 2020

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Beyond Increasing School Enrolment: Let’s Demand More From Gov’t (Opinion)

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I have been studying the recent (2016) Education Sector Performance Report. The 2015/16 academic year ended with Net Enrolment Ratio for primary at 92%, JHS 50%, and SHS 49.6%. Respectively, these are improvements from 91%, 49%, and 45.6% in the 2014/15 academic year. The 2017 rates will see a fractional change, but the 2018 rates will see significant increment, especially at the SHS level due to the Free SHS Policy.

The core textbook to pupil ratio in basic public schools have reduced with deprived district affected most. The pupil-teacher ratio (PTR), and the pupil-trained-teacher ratio (PTTR) see no significant improvement with the figure remaining more or less stagnant in deprived districts. There are many works to be done on the student to classroom ratio, student to seating ratio, and student to desk ratio.

Comparing our performance in the WASSCE from 2011-2015 with the other three countries, especially Nigeria, we need to put in the extra effort. In 2011, in Core Math, Sierra Leone had 0%, and Ghana had 54%. Fast forward into 2015, Sierra Leone leaped to 16% while Ghana woefully fell to 24%, with Nigeria standing tall with 57%. In the English Language in 2011, we stood tall, with 76%, followed by Nigeria with 58% and Sierra Leone having 0%. What changed four years along the line? Nigeria took over with 58%, we dropped to 50%, and Sierra Leone moved from 0% to 46%; almost catching up with us.

Generally, we are doing well in terms of enrolment because efforts to increase enrolment across all educational levels have been the attention for every successive government. For a Ghanaian politician’s definition of quality education, it means more students getting into school; all other things are peripherals. So, when they want to speak about progress in education, they go and fetch the enrolment figures and throw at us.

Let us not be gullible into believing that once we are increasing enrolment, we are getting education right. A child whose name is in a school register, but has no classroom to be in, has no seat to sit on, has no textbook and other appurtenances of education, and has no qualified teacher to be with, should not be said to be in school. In Sub-Sahara Africa, 81% of children are in school, but not learning [Source: UNESCO Institute for Statistics], and Ghana is part of that figure. The Global Education Monitoring Report, 2016 corroborated that by stating, “Enrolment in primary education in developing countries has reached 91%, but 57 million children remain out of school.” If you look at UNESCO’s definition of Out-of-School Children, a child can be coming to school but is considered out of school if that child does not have basic educational provisions. These should be disquieting and sobering.

We should appreciate every effort by the government to rake in more children into school, but that’s not all that we need. We can’t be only concern about getting more of our children’s names into the school registers while we care less about what and how they learn. I am not a cynic of any policy or initiative that the government has done or is doing to increase accessibility (for that matter enrolment) substantially, but we can’t stop there. While patting ourselves on the shoulder for increasing enrolment, we need to solve other challenges bedeviling quality education, and your understanding of this and genuine concern should warrant your action to demand more from our leaders regardless of your political affiliation.

Otherwise, if we allow the politicians to be throwing enrolment figures plus pass rates in some of the subjects in the BECE and WASSCE at us, to make us into believing that we are making headway in education, we will see more children completing school, but are not prepared to rub shoulders with their colleagues in other parts of the world.

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