Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Massive Shake up by Ministry of Education

Story: Hadiza Nuhhu-Billa Quansah

There has been a massive shake up in the educational sector by the Ministry of Education (MoE).

The reforms which is to take effect from this 2011/12 academic year is to take a bold and comprehensive action to address the performance of students in the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE), teacher attendance, technical and vocational skills for unplaced candidates among others.

The Deputy Minister of Education, Mr Mahama Ayariga, who made this known at the press conference said this reforms have become necessary “since receiving the 2011 BECE result, the Minister of Education has been analyzing them and engaging stakeholders to find out the root cause of failures among candidates from the 2009 to 2011”.

Mr Ayariga said as part of the reform the sector minister has director that additional special budget should be made to about 50 districts mostly in the Northern Region, Upper East, Upper west, northern part of the Volta and Brong Ahafo to contract qualified personnel to teach in the core subjects areas which have often accounted for the low performance of candidates. Adding that the renewal of these contracts will be tied to performance of the candidates in their final examination.

He disclosed that to further enhance accountability by heads of schools, from the next academic year MoE will cause the publication of the Ghana Schools League Table in the newspapers and on the ministry’s website. It will comprise the performance of all schools (basic schools and second cycle schools).

Mr Ayariga said the government has also secured about $70,000,000 million to be used to support skills and apprenticeship training of BECE candidates who have not been placed in senior high schools (SHSs) or technical institutions (TIs).

In addition, he said a policy is being put in place to ensure that appointment for school headship will be strictly base on teachers with a minimum of five years teaching experience with a School Management Certificate from any accredited university. “The position will no longer be based on the length of stay in the school to enhance competition and fair placement”.

Mr Ayariga said the MoE has directed that henceforth all teaching and learning materials meant for schools in the Northern, Upper East and Upper west Regions should be delivered to them at the expense of the government instead of insisting that heads of schools from the districts travel all the way to Accra for the goods themselves.

The Ghana Education Service has also reviewed the school fees for the 2011/12 academic years. The review was made upward to cover the cost of feeding, which has been peg at GH¢1.80 per day students to enable the schools improve both the quality and quantity of food served. “With this adjustment heads of school should ensure that students are served with good food under a healthy condition”.

He said the amount payable to by fresh students are as follows: Boarding students will pay the approved fees of GH¢328.70, day students GH¢160.70 and foreign students will pay a tuition fee of GH¢468.72.

The increase in school fees since 2008/9 has largely been accounted for by the cost of uniforms and other materials, which the schools provide. It is however considered by the MoE that GES should allow parents to provide these items themselves to avoid the impression that high school fees are being charged in the schools, he added.

GLOBAL Partnership Education has committeed to allocating $ 50 million to Ghana to address the issues of regional and gender related inequalities resulting in the poor performance of pupils at the basic educational level from poor districts.

The money would be used by deprived districts to redress the imbalances accounting for their poor performance.

A Deputy Minister of Education, Mr Mahama Ayariga, made this known at a press conference in Accra today to announce new reforms at the first and second cycle levels of education in Accra today.

The reforms include a compulsory school management training programmes for all headteachers and headmasters of all public schools, review of the tenure of headteachers and headmasters, abolition of the use of length of stay in a school as requirement for headship of school, greater autonomy for school management as well as an annual publication of Ghana Schools League Table.

On the school management training, Mr Ayariga said, that would constitute a radical departure from the erroneous assumption that all teachers could easily assume school management roles without appropriate school management training, adding that teaching in a school and management of the school were two different functions, hence the need to develop management competencies of teachers who assume management roles.

He said the present arrangement where a person on assumption of the status of headteacher stayed in that position until he/she retired did not in “our opinion encourage accountability of heads”.

“Security of tenure as head teacher or headmsater must be tied to performance. Consequently, the Ministry of Education has directed the Ghana Education Service to review the conditions of service of head teacher and headmasters to limit their tenure of office to five years, renewable subject to demonstrated improvement in the performance of the school,” he said.

Mr Ayariga said the ministry believed if the security of tenure of headteachers and headmasters was tied to performance there would be greater accountability in school management .

The present policy which ensures that the most senior teacher in a school ascended to the status of headteacher or headmaster, he said, “is to be reviewed so that all teachers with a minimum of five years classroom teaching experience who obtained school management from GIMPA or any accredited tertiary institution, could be appointed as a headteacher or headmaster.

“School headship will henceforth be based on appropriate management competence and not necessarily a function of how long you have been a teacher at a school, he said.

Mr Ayariga directed the Ghana Education Service to review the administrative powers of schoo heads with a view to devolution of more powers to headteachers and headmasters.

He said to enhance school management accountability, the ministry would cause to be published in the newspapers and on its website an annual league table displaying the performance of all basic and second cycle schools in the assessment instruments that had been developed by the Chief Inspector of Schools.

He said the measures which aimed at improving school management should have significant impact on school performance.

With regard to the delivery of teaching and learning materials to poor performing districts, Mr Ayariga said, the ministry had directed that teaching and learning materials meant for schools in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions and the northern Volta and Brong Ahafo Region should always be delivered to them with dispatch and at the expense of central government instead of insisting that the districts should come to Accra for the goods themselves.

He dismissed recent publication by the Statesman newspaper that the 2011 BECE results were the worse in 13 years, explaining that 59.45 per cent qualified for placement into SHSs and not 46.93 as deliberately misrepresented by Danquah Institute.

“The 2011 BECE candidates are pupils who for six and a half years under the NPP regime (September 2002 to January 2009) were in basic school. The rest of their two and half years of basic education received under the NDC regime (January 2009-June 2011). While the NPP had six and half years to mould them, NDC had only two and a half years to finish the work,” he emphasised.

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