Focus on basic education first  –CSOs to gov’t  


Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), policy think tanks operating in the education sector, and some teacher groups, have cast doubts on the future of Ghana’s basic education system, as the government seems to have shifted all attention to the Free Senior High School (FSHS) programme at the expense of basic level.

According to the coalition – which is calling on the government to focus on basic education first as the obvious cradle of education – if the government does not as a matter of urgency increase the budgetary allocation, uncap the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund), and direct more resources to the sector, a doomed future might be looming.

The CSOs, in a report titled ‘Memorandum of Issues in the Basic Education Sector’ presented to the Parliament of Ghana, listed a myriad of problems facing the education space, with the basic level taking the lion’s share of setbacks; hence, the need to focus attention to that space.

one million children lack access to basic education

The CSOs lamented that about one million children between the ages of four and 18 are not in school – representing about 10 percent of the age cohort. This is primarily due to the lack of public basic schools in underserved communities, even as the population increases.

While some 5,400 basic schools still operate under trees, sheds or dilapidated structures across the country, the government needs to invest in the construction of at least 2,000 new basic schools urgently to grant access to the afore-mentioned one million handicapped.

With statistics indicating that only 17 out of the 5,400 schools under trees have been completed by the Akufo-Addo-led government since 2021, they urged the government to increase budgetary allocation to the education sector in the supplementary budget to the 15 percent threshold from the current 12 percent.

This increment importantly should be targeted at addressing the infrastructural challenges at the basic education level and not an additional resource to the FSHS programme.

Overcrowded classrooms affect quality

The low investment in expanding public basic schools has led to overcrowding in urban and peri-urban schools, driving down quality.

According to the report, in municipalities like Adentan, Weija-Gbawe, Ga North, Kpone Katamanso, and Ga West as well as other urban centre schools, the average primary school class size is more than 60 students – almost twice the recommended class size by the Ghana Education Service.

This has negative effects on the quality of teaching in a new curriculum which requires participatory learner-based teaching approaches. “How can a teacher in a class of 124 at Papase Roman Catholic Basic School (Amasaman) apply participatory teaching approaches?” it quizzed.

To make matters worse for the quality of education at the basic level, four years after introducing a new primary school curriculum, there are only a few textbooks available for three out of the 10 subjects. The situation has severely affected the effective implementation of the new curriculum, as teachers are unable to facilitate learning without adequate textbooks.

The CSOs, including the Africa Education Watch (Eduwatch), STAR-Ghana Foundation, Ghana National Education Campaign Coalition (GNECC), Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), World Vision, and the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) Platform on Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) – which represent over 500 organisations advocating spending efficiency and equitable financing of education in Ghana – is urging the government to shift attention now.

Project Manager with STAR-Ghana Foundation, Dr. Ernestina Tetteh, who addressed the media on behalf of the coalition, said: “The government must develop an emergency infrastructure expansion plan for overcrowded urban and peri-urban schools. The plan must also include a purposive approach to bridging the 25 percent gap between primary and JHS, while providing new schools for underserved communities”, she said.

Leave a Reply