General News of Monday, 17 July 2017
The World Bank has advised the government to increase investment in the education sector to help produce more quality human resources that will bring to reality the country’s growth aspirations.
The investments should go into improving the quality of and access to education, a Senior Director and Head of the Education Global Practice at the World Bank, Mr Jaime Saavedra Chanduvi, said in an interview.
As Ghana strives to become a middle income country, Mr Chanduvi said the government would need to raise investments in the sector to ensure that the economy can continue to grow.
He was speaking to the paper after a three-day visit to the country.
The visit afforded him the opportunity to interact with government officials and civil society organisations to be able to gather firsthand information on how the bank can support the country to enhance access to quality education.
Speaking to the paper ahead of his departure, Mr Chanduvi said Ghana was on the crossroads of its development and its approach to education would be key in how the country emerged from its current position.
“Ghana is in the crossroads in the sense that it is a country that wants to be a middle income country and wants to continue growing. Definitely, it will have to continue investing, each time more, in education in order to sustain the growth in the economy,” he said.
Although the country has made tremendous progress in the area of education, the bank’s director said “huge challenges still remained” hence, the need for increased investments to help expand facilities and improve quality of teaching and learning.
Access or quality?
While hoping that the government’s Free Senior High School policy, which is scheduled to take effect in the next academic year, would help improve access, Mr Chanduvi said: “Ghana still faces important challenges in education in the area of quality.”
“For us at the bank, we are always ready to continue working with the government,” he said, noting that the bank was already helping the government in almost all spheres of education.
On whether the country should focus more on access to or quality of education, he said it was difficult to say, given the important role each of them play in the development of a human resource.
“I think it is very difficult to prioritise because you cannot say that let us focus on the children that are in school and forget about the others. You cannot do that because these are young people and you need to invest in their future,” he said, explaining that what the country needed to do was to strike a nice balance between access and quality of education.
“We need to make sure that kids are in school but in addition to that we need to make sure that the infrastructure is decent. We need to make sure that the management of the schools is appropriate and you need give professional development opportunities to teachers,” he said.
As people entrusted with the development of children, Mr Chanduvi said teachers were vital to the proper development of a country’s human resource.
As a result, he said, the country needed to invest in the right training for teachers while ensuring that it got the best of commitments from those teachers.
“Teaching is not like any other profession that you can be okay. Here, you have to be great because if you are not great but mediocre, then it means the children are spending all their days with someone who does not aspire to be great and we cannot afford to have teachers who cannot really motivate their children,” he said.
He thus called on teachers to take their profession seriously, given that it is the bedrock of the next generation of the country.
He also advised parents and young people to see technical education as “a stream that is important and valid and could give you as good or even a better future than going to university.”
“It is not that one is a poor cousin of the other; those are two streams,” he said.