Discussants at a lecture on education have underscored the need for the gap between prestigious schools and the disadvantaged ones at the basic level to be bridged, to help produce the critical minds the country needs to develop.
They contended that the widening gap between rich schools and less-privileged ones did not augur well for the education sector, and the earlier steps were taken to address the issue, the better secure the future of the children in less-endowed schools would be.
The Director of Academic Quality Assurance at the University of Ghana, Prof. Esther Sakyi-Dawson; the Chief Executive Officer of Chase Petroleum Ghana, Mr Kweku Bediako; the Founder and President of the Ashesi University, Mr Patrick Awuah; and the Principal of the SOS Hermann Gmeiner International College, Mr Israel Titi-Ofei, were contributing to the topic, ‘Re-engineering education in Ghana: Removing the growing dualism’.
It was the fourth in a series of a lectures forming part of activities marking the 90th anniversary celebration of the Achimota School.
The immediate past Vice Chancellor (VC) of the University of Ghana, Prof. Ernest Aryeetey, who set the tone for the lecture last Wednesday, expressed concern about the growing dualism in the country’s education system.
He cautioned that the country risked compromising its developmental agenda if that dualistic system of education was not corrected.
To overcome the growing dualistic phenomenon, Prof. Aryeetey proposed a public-private partnership to increase investments in the education system.
“We need to allow the private sector into the school system to see better and quality education,” he stated.
To further deal with the issue, the former VC spoke about dealing with poor teacher preparation by developing performance contracts with them to assess them periodically.
Prof. Aryeetey had issues with the politicisation of the education system in terms of how governments tended to tinker with the duration of the senior high school (SHS) calendar to their political advantage.
The former university don further expressed concern that the Ghana Education Service (GES) tended to micro-manage the schools, thereby preventing them from running smoothly.
To that end, he asked the GES to be more of a regulator of the school system than managers to put a stop to the unnecessary interference in running the schools.
In a panel discussion, Prof. Sakyi-Dawson called for a paradigm shift from just orienting students to “chew and poor” simply to pass an examination to a more practical way of training students beyond passing an exam.
She further called on school authorities to de-emphasise on academic grades which encouraged students to simply “chew and poor” to pass an exam.
Mr Bediako also called on wealthy parents to use their wealth to leverage the education of less-privileged schools rather than the desperate attempt to send their children to more prestigious schools.
He called for support from the private sector to prop up the education system using private support, and asked the business community to endeavour to invest in the education sector to make a difference.
Taking his turn, Mr Awuah said the tested subjects for students in Junior High Schools (JHS) were too many and, therefore, called for a reduction, suggesting concentration on English, Mathematics and Science, saying “the experimentation” of many subjects on the children was not the way to go.
Mr Titi-Ofei, in his contribution, called for more training and investment in teachers to enable them to give of their best.
A former VC of the University of Ghana, Prof. Akilagpa Sawyer, who chaired the function, said the widening gap between the rich and the poor made it difficult to create a level playing field, a situation which ought to be reversed.
The next lecture is scheduled for May 17, 2017 at the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences.