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19
Sat, Aug

Education Ministry considering shifting public schools’ closing time to 4 pm

Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, the Minister of Education, delivering the keynote address at the opening session of the 2017 National Educational Sector Annual Review meeting in Accra. Picture: EBOW HANSON

The Ministry of Education is contemplating shifting the closing time for public schools from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. to ensure that parents and guardians are home when their children and wards return from school.

Accordingly, the ministry is holding consultations with the National Council for Curriculum Assessment (NCCA), which is a regulatory body, on the issue and the outcome, as well as views that will be expressed by other stakeholders, will determine the action to take.

The Minister of Education, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, made this known at the 2017 National Educational Sector Annual Review (NESAR) programme in Accra yesterday.

The programme brought together departments and agencies under the ministry, Ghana’s development partners, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and civil society organisations (CSOs) on education.

Among other things, participants assessed how the ministry fared last year and brainstormed on strategies for the way forward.

Why the shift

Dr Prempeh explained that as things stood, basic schools closed and schoolchildren went home at a time their parents had not returned from work.

“Schools close too early in this country. By 2 o’clock schools are closed. Where are their parents?” the minister quizzed.

“The farmer has not yet returned from the farm, those doing public service are not back from work. Why can’t schools close at 4 o’clock?” he reasoned.

Re-registration of NGOs

Speaking on the role of NGOs and CSOs in the educational sector, Dr Prempeh said they would have to re-register with the Ghana National Education Campaign Coalition (GNECC).

He explained that the decision was to ensure that the activities of such bodies were relevant to the agenda of the country.

“Eighty per cent of NGOs and CSOs are into delivering quality and improved education. Some have operated for 15 years, others 20 years, but in places where the NGOs are most active, probably that is where our achievements and learning outcomes are worse,” he noted.

He said the GNECC’s role was to re-register all such NGOs and CSOs to find out what they were doing, explaining that the exercise was not to stifle their activities but ensure that they were in line with the country’s agenda.

Technical/vocational training

On technical and vocational education, the minister noted with concern that over 18 ministries were offering some sort of training.

“The ministry has commenced work to align all public technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions under the Ministry of Education to provide policy direction in skills development,” he said.

He said aligning all those training institutions under the ministry would further facilitate the development of education.

Challenges

In spite of the progress made in education, Dr Prempeh said, the sector was confronted with significant challenges that inhibited the delivery of quality education.

“Persistence of these challenges has made real progress elusive, with most children going through school but learning little. We have, accordingly, prioritised initiatives to confront the challenges and ensure the delivery of quality education,” he said.

Welcoming the participants, a Deputy Minister of Education in charge of Junior High Schools (JHSs) and TVET, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, urged all to actively get involved to help champion the cause of education in the country.

Overview

Giving an overview of last year’s performance and the current sector priority, the Chief Director of the ministry, Mr Enoch Cobbinah, expressed concern that even though 88.1 per cent of teachers in public JHSs were trained, the performance of Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) candidates was low, compared to the performance of candidates in the private sector which has 19.3 trained teachers.

He, therefore, called for a policy intervention to address the situation.