Achieve universal primary education
Available data and trend analysis on MDG 2 of achieving universal primary education show that Ghana is on track to achieving both the gross and net enrolment targets by 2015. The country has a lot of work to increase Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) and Net Enrolment Ratio (NER) by 5.1 and 11.5 per cent respectively to reach the target, with intensification of much more effort in the area of capitation grant, school feeding programme and free school uniform. The Western, Central, Brong-Ahafo and Upper West Regions have already achieved the 100 per cent GER ahead of the 2015 target date, while the Northern Region is at the verge of achieving the target. Ashanti, Eastern, Greater Accra, Upper East and Volta Regions have GERs below the national average and, therefore, require a bit more attention to get them to attain the target in 2015. Only Central and Western Regions have NERs above the national average, indicating that the remaining eight regions need to accelerate the pace of implementation of policy interventions to improve NER and facilitate the attainment of the target by 2015. The country needs to do much more to improve the primary school completion rate considering the distance of 13.7 per cent from the target.
What contributed to the progress?
The country’s commitment to meeting the MDG on universal primary education is reflected in a number of policy measures including provision and rehabilitation of school infrastructure; strengthening the capitation grant; expanding the coverage of school feeding programme; provision of free school uniforms and exercise books among others. These measures contributed to marginal improvement in both NER and GER in 2010. Some relevant interventions that contributed to declining Pupil Teacher Ratio (PTR) and the improved literacy rate are:
• Motivation and retention of teachers through improved service conditions;
• Deployment of about 40,000 personnel and recruitment of 20,000 volunteers under the National Volunteer Programme;
• Increased number of schools from basic to the tertiary level.
There are obvious challenges facing the education sector in reaching the MDG targets despite the efforts made so far. These include:
• Inadequate infrastructure and basic tools: Many schools particularly at the basic level in rural areas do not have adequate classrooms and textbooks for effective teaching and learning thereby undermining the quality of education in these areas.
• Low morale and commitment of teachers: Poor conditions of service of teachers relative to other professions (in spite of efforts by government to improve service conditions of teachers), continue to dampen the morale of teachers especially in public schools which tend to undermine the quality of education.
• The difficulty associated with teacher postings and retention: Many teachers including newly trained ones are often reluctant to accept postings to rural areas of the country. Those who accept such postings do not also want to stay beyond a year or two. This accounts for the rural-urban disparity in the quality of education as reflected in the imbalance in performance of pupils/students at BECE and WASSSCE.
• High and increasing cost of education particularly at the tertiary level: High cost of secondary and tertiary education tends to marginalize the poor and thus make it difficult for them to get out of poverty. An establishment of scholarship scheme for the poor but brilliant students could help minimize the difficulty the poor faces in accessing secondary and tertiary education.