The Minister for Education, Matthew Opoku-Prempeh, has touted the government’s achievement in his sector outlining various policies instituted to enhance teaching and learning outcomes.
He, however, did not give an indication as to the plan for schools, which have been closed since March 2020 due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Dr. Opoku-Prempeh was heavy on the actions of the government like the implementation of the abolition of the three months pay policy, the reversal of the cancellation of the teacher training allowance among others.
He was also keen to note these achievements trumped that of the Mahama administration.
Key to the Akufo-Addo administration’s record on education has been the implementation of the Free Senior High School (SHS) programme.
“To date, over 1.2 million students have benefited from the Free SHS programme which has expanded access to secondary education and enabled an extra 400,000 students to enrol in Senior High School,” he noted.
Beyond the metrics of access, the Minister also said the government had an eye on quality.
“…we recognize that access alone is no adequate in guaranteeing the quality of education we desire. For this reason, the government is committed to ensuring quality and relevant education that will produce confident, skilled and global citizens who are ready and able to compete with their counterparts anywhere in the world.”
Dr. Opoku-Prempeh also spoke about the teaching interventions at the basic level.
“To improve the quality of education, we have had to increase the supply of trained teachers to our basic schools. Within the period, the pupil to trained teacher ratio has improved to 1:37 at the Kindergarten level and 1:33 at the Primary level in 2019. The percentage of trained teachers has also improved to 88 per cent at the Primary level,” he noted.
He further said since the current government took office in January 2017, it has employed a total of 66,357 teaching and non-teaching staff in the pre-tertiary sector as of the end of 2019.
“Further, financial clearance has been obtained to recruit an additional 27,367 teaching and non-staff, comprising 16,500 newly qualified teachers, 6,500 graduate teachers, 3,232 replacement staff and 1,135 non-teaching staff.”
“This brings the total to a staggering 93,724 employed by the end of this year for pre-tertiary. At the tertiary level, we have since 2017 we have recruited a total of 6,176 staff,” he added.
Criticism from Minority
But a Ranking Member on the Education Committee of Parliament, Peter Nortsu-Kotoe, chided the Minister for shying away from pressing issues in the education sector in favour of politics.
“Ghanaians were expecting him to tell us this afternoon what programmes are being put in place for the resumption of schools especially at the basic and senior high school levels.”
“Our children have been home for five months now [because of the coronavirus pandemic]. What is the way forward? He failed to tell us,” Mr. Nortsu-Kotoe said.
The legislator insisted that the Minister should have spoken directly to the status of schools and outlined a plan “so Ghanaians will know if children will go to school or not go to school”.