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“Students are schooling without learning”
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“Students are schooling without learning”

 Policy makers and stakeholders have described the Free Senior High School Education in Ghana as a means to creating a society of opportunities and empowerment for every citizen, writes Kenneth Gyamerah, 26, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Kumasi in Ghana who examines the programme that rolled out in September.

It is a daunting prospect at a time where government is using tax payers money to pay for the fees of more than 100,000 students in the public senior high schools across the country, but I believe this experiment will pay off if policy makers ensure that there is quality delivery of education. Students must not only go to school because it is free, but they must learn to become relevant to global job demands.

More than 10,000 children admitted in the Senior High Schools for the 2017-18 academic year did not pay school fees.

Though the government pays tuition, feeding and provides text books to students, the World Bank Group reports that six out of ten children and teenagers in Ghana are failing to reach basic levels of proficiency in learning.

Over the years, much of the focus of international aid in education by UNESCO, USAID, and the World Bank Group has been on the lack of access infrastructure, particularly in Ghana.

Recently, a World Bank report on education revealed that many children in Ghana are schooling without learning. If the problem continues, we will have a majority of graduates without any employable skills in the next ten years.

There are indications that the theoretical nature of our educational curriculum doesn’t conform with the skill set needed to acquire jobs. As the world approaches the fourth industrial revolution, it is predicted that many people will lose their jobs to machines by 2030 if they don’t acquire relevant skills.

The kind of education we are providing In Ghana doesn’t currently build skills and literacy effectively. Students are going through school without learning basic foundational skills in reading, maths and science.

There should be an improvement in teacher management and support so that they can give their best to ensure effective learning. There is a need to recognise inequality in learning opportunities in Ghana. Children in low income communities attend schools without teaching and learning materials, meaning that these disadvantaged children attend schools that are also disadvantaged.

Every year, children in schools in the urban centers perform better in the Basic Education Certificate Examination and the West Africa Senior School Certificate Examinations, while those in low income communities perform poorly. This disparity is a very serious problem that requires immediate solution.

Our policies need to help level the playing field and address these challenges to learning for these children. Ghana’s educational system should equip students with the skills they need to contribute to their society. If not, millions of young people will receive an inadequate education that would leave them trapped in low-paid and insecure jobs by 2030.

Government should improve the quality of schools, provide educational logistics and resources to teachers, build their capacity to use modern methods of teaching, and also apply Education for Sustainable Development.

There should be an increase in enrollment of teachers. Competent teachers who possess the right skills and knowledge in 21st century classroom management should be employed. The government and policy makers in education should resource schools in low income communities, provide incentives to teachers working in under-served communities, and ensure accountability and transparency in public schools.

Moreover, Technical and Vocational Education(TVET) programmes that have received low patronage should be strengthened. It is very unfortunate that in the public universities in Ghana, almost 90 per cent of the students enrolled are reading humanities, business and law while science, technology, agriculture and engineering  attract few students.

How would Ghana achieve sustainable development and economic growth when more than 80 per cent of graduates churned into the system don’t have the right skills and competencies to work?

The whole education curriculum should be revisited if Ghana wants to be at par with developed countries.Though the recent expansion in education in Ghana deserves significant praise for its achievements in almost universal access to basic and secondary education, as a Quality Education Advocate I believe our educational system is a work in progress. We have a long way to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 4, quality education and lifelong learning.

Photo credit: USAID Africa USAID in Ghana: Education via photopin (license)
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About me: I am a youth activist, writer and a professional teacher.

I am an enthusiast on all issues concerning youth, and feel fulfilled through engaging in policy related discussions and deliberations on youth empowerment and development. I am passionate about organising for a global youth agenda, and want to be the voice for the less privileged in Ghana.

My interests lie in advocacy, writing and teaching, which has led to involvement with a number of global youth-related organizations.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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