Feature Article of Sunday, 27 January 2013
Columnist: Eyiah, Joe Kingsley
The Full Implementation of FCUBE in Ghana: Politicians Must Spare Us Their Divisive Attitude!
By Joe Kingsley Eyiah, OCT, Brookview Middle School, Toronto-Canada
“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference”
The news report from Ghana that the Progressive People’s Party (PPP) has accepted the nomination of Professor Naana Opoku Agyeman for the position of Minister of Education by President John Dramani Mahama and thus, has expressed confidence in her competence to develop education in Ghana (Ghanaweb, January 15, 2013), to me, is good news! Though the presidential candidate for the 2012 elections of the PPP, Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom failed to attend the inauguration of H.E. John D. Mahama as the President of Ghana recently, his (Dr. Nduom) Progressive People’s Party statement coming on the heels of President Mahama’s appointment of the right person to head the Education Ministry in our dear country has demonstrated the Party’s political expediency and goodwill towards moving the education sector forward for national development. Even more encouraging is the Party’s recommendation that the President’s nominee if confirmed by the parliamentary appointments committee should be supported by the President to fully implement the Free and Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) program which was introduced in 1995.
Ghanaians were promised free universal basic education by 2005. For almost 20 years now, successive governments have failed to fully implement the FCUBE as promised. It would be in the interest of our national development if the FCUBE would be fully implemented for the benefit of all Ghanaians by 2016 as promised by President Mahama during his election campaign. For the President to succeed with his promise on the FCUBE, he would need to put the right and competent people in the helm of affairs within the education sector to begin with. Maybe it is a good start with his appointment of the sector minister. However, the President ought to look beyond party lines and fish for suitable and capable Ghanaians to help move the sector forward.
A policy document on basic education improvement sector program put together by the government in 1996 to ensure Free and Compulsory Universal Basic Education (fCUBE) for all outlines government intentions for basic education in these words, “The Government is committed to making schooling from Basic Stage 1 through 9 free and compulsory for all school-age children by the year 2005. Through the components of its program for Free Compulsory and Universal Education, the Government of Ghana is committed not only to achieving universal access to basic education in ten years, but also to IMPROVING THE QUALITY OF EDUCATION SERVICES OFFERED” (emphasis supplied). One can conveniently argue that we are yet to see any improvement in the quality of education offered at the basic level, if not at all levels, of education in the country since the implementation of such education reform. I am even afraid to credit our nation with universal free basic education for all since there are some communities which still do not have access to free education in the country. Such communities lack the basic facilities and resources such as classrooms, exercise books, chalk and trained teachers that could be described as ‘extrinsic motivation’ for the child to go to school!
As a teacher in a developed country, I have had the opportunity to experience the success of true free compulsory basic education for children both in quantity and quality. In the designated needy or deprived neighborhoods of Toronto-Canada, where I teach, there are community and model schools everywhere! Children of school going age therefore have no excuse to stay at home and parents /guardians are morally as well as legally obligated to put their children in school whether they are economically well-to-do or not! Though there might be children who would prefer the streets to school, there are adequate provisions made for them at schools that attract them to such places of learning at the very early stage of their lives. Catch them young!! (Don’t dismiss my argument here for the fact that I now live and work in a developed country. The world has become a global village and we ought to learn from good examples everywhere! After all, with prudent management of the country’s natural and human resources, Ghana can do better than what the country has been able to achieve in education so far! God bless our homeland Ghana!)
There is an urgent need for revamping the resources at the kindergarten and primary schools at the basic level to establish quality foundation for the country’s education system. Adequate learning and teaching materials MUST be provided in the classroom at that level to ensure effective learning and teaching process.
Also, teachers who are undoubtedly the ‘oil which grease the wheels of any education reforms’ must be well prepared for our primary schools throughout the country to facilitate learning and smooth transition for students from the primary to the junior secondary school. This calls for the involvement of the education committees at the district assemblies in effectively recruiting potential and capable teachers for training at the Teacher Training Colleges and their subsequent postings to primary schools in the districts. The programs at the Teacher Training Colleges must also be made to address the needs of teaching in our primary schools effectively.
With the adequate preparation of teachers, well equipped classrooms and effective supervision of teaching at the basic education level Ghana will be on track to solving the problem of poor results of the Junior and Senior High School Certificate Examinations in the country.
A critical look at the manifestos of all the political parties that contested the 2012 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections in the country reveals an interesting trend of promises to the citizenry on the development of education in the country. All promised to implement free and quality basic education in Ghana. Now that a new person (welcomed by all as competent and capable) has been appointed to handle the education sector, all politicians must show goodwill and help her to success in the full implementation of the Free and Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) in the country. The politicians must spare us their divisive attitude this time around!