The Chairman of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), Professor Ato Essuman, has called for reforms in the country’s secondary education policy to give young people the opportunity to acquire skills to become national assets for development.
He said the Free Senior High School (SHS) policy, in its current form, was fraught with skills development challenges, teacher training and orientation difficulties, inadequate resources and delays in the release of funds to schools.
Beyond that, Prof. Essuman said the budgetary allocation for the Free SHS was too “lofty” to the extent of weakening basic education funding, the foundation of education in the country, hence the need for a reform.
“The policy of making education free and available for all is a lofty one but such a goal will be useless and needlessly expensive if all it does is to create opportunities to give young people access without the skills that will make them great assets for national development,” he stated.
“Reforming what will be taught and how they are taught are important, otherwise the problems are likely to continue,” Prof. Essuman, who was delivering a keynote address at a forum organised by the Old Achimotan Association (OAA) in Accra last Thursday evening, said.
The forum was chaired by Professor Ernest Aryeetey, a former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana and President of OAA.
Dubbed :“Achimota Speaks”, the forum was on the topic ‘The Governance, Management and Financing of Secondary Education in Ghana”.
It featured a panel discussion with different stakeholders sharing their thoughts on management and financing secondary education.
The five panellists were the President of the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), Angel Agbe Carbonu, a former Global President of Ola Girls Old Students, Dr Eden Welbeck, Irene Sam, who represented the National Council of Parent Teachers Association (PTA), and the Managing Director of Merson Capital Ltd, Yaw Benneh-Amponsah, who is also an old student.
Prof. Essuman noted that the Free SHS policy would have been more desirable, if a phased implementation had been adopted, while drawing key lessons from past interventions such as the Capitation Grant and the Free, Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE).
Regarding inadequate resources and delays in the release of funds to schools, the three-time Council of State Member said there was the need for the policy to have focused on the poor and vulnerable at its initial stages, if the phased implementation route had been chosen.
“The arguments about Free SHS focus on issues such as access and not enough about the contents and outcomes expected,” Prof. Essuman, who was also the Chief Director at the Ministry of Education, stated.
“Matters of skills development, teacher orientation, training and development as well as new approaches are less stressed in the discussion,” he added.
President of the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), Angel Carbonu, said all the attention had been shifted to SHS while ignoring the public basic schools.
“The saddest aspect is the basic schools. All our public basic schools are running down and some private schools in ramshackle are getting students more than the public schools because the confidence in the public schools is gone,” he said.
Dr Welbeck stressed the need for the government to review the governance structures of SHS to ensure equality and good quality education.
Gov’t to restrict importation of rice, ‘yemuadie’ and other products
The government is set to lay before Parliament today, November 21, a Constitutional Instrument (C.I) seeking to restrict the importation of selected strategic products into the country.
The items, numbering over 20, will include rice, tripe (popularly called “yemuadie” in Ghana), and diapers.
The government said the move is part of efforts to enhance local production.
Speaking during a press briefing in Parliament, the Minister of Trade and Industry, K.T Hammond said, “Stomach of animals, bladder and the chunk of intestines (yemuadie), the country had had to put in an amount of about $164 million towards the importation of these items. We are taking steps to ensure that in terms of rice, there’s no poverty of rice in the country.”
He emphasized, “By these restrictions, we are not going to ensure that there’s no food in the country at all; that is not the point at all. There have to be some efforts by the government to ensure that we go back to Acheampong’s operation feed yourself. There are about 22 items on the list, one of them, I think, is diapers.”
He announced the introduction of the Ghana Standards Authority Regulations 2023, which also seeks to streamline the manufacturing of cement to ensure competitive pricing.
Mahama doesn’t understand 24hr economy; don’t vote for him – Bawumia
Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia says former President John Dramani Mahama does not understand the 24-hour economy policy he is proposing.
According to the Vice President, that policy is already being implemented in the country, as hospitals, fuel companies, among others, operate a 24-hour system.
Dr. Bawumia, therefore, urged Ghanaians to ignore Mahama during the 2024 polls since he has nothing new to offer and vote for the New Patriotic Party.
“John Mahama says he has a new idea. What is the idea? He says he wants a 24-hour economy. He doesn’t even understand that policy. Today in Ghana, our hospitals work 24 hours, our electricity company works 24 hours, our water company works 24 hours, our fuel stations work 24 hours, and many chop bars work 24 hours. Today because of digitalisation, you can transfer money 24 hours, you can receive money 24 hours… So he doesn’t understand his own policy. It doesn’t make sense.”
“So I want you to vote for me in 2024 because I will bring a new vision, I will bring a new policy. Mahama is the past, Dr Bawumia is the future. If John Mahama was there, we would say we have a dumsor economy, you can’t have a 24-hour economy in dumsor. So, you want to vote for Dr Bawumia in 2024, we will take the country to new heights,” Dr Bawumia stated.
Bagbin rebukes IMF over alleged pressure to pass some bills under certificate of urgency
The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, has accused the International Monetary Fund (IMF) of pressuring the House to pass a number of bills under a certificate of urgency.
Mr. Bagbin cited bills such as the Affirmative Action Bill, which is allegedly being pushed by the IMF as part of the conditionality for the balance of the $3 billion credit facility for Ghana.
Speaking at the Speaker’s Breakfast Meeting on Monday, Alban Bagbin insisted that the House will not be coerced by the IMF to pass the bill.
“Even in this budget, you can see the arm of the IMF in a lot of provisions in the budget. A critical bill like the Affirmative Action Gender Equality Bill has come to Parliament under a certificate of urgency. Please, it won’t happen; we won’t pass it under a certificate of urgency.”
“There are critical stakeholders we must consult and make sure we go together. We will not be dictated by the IMF; that one, you can be assured. This is a very critical bill that the IMF should know that we need the buy-in of the stakeholders to be able to implement it,” Alban Bagbin said.
The Affirmative Action Bill, when passed into law, would seek to expunge the historically low representation of women in decision-making spaces and promote democracy and development through all-inclusive participation.