- On April 24, 2018
- education, Ghana Education Service, kindergarten, SEND GHANA, Siapha Kamara, World Bank
SEND GHANA launched a monitoring report that measures access to and quality of kindergarten (KG) education in Ghana at Cleaver House in Accra April 18.
The report, titled Education for All: Is Ghana Leaving KGs Behind?, surveyed 30 districts in the Greater Accra, Upper East, Upper West and Northern regions where the Making the Budget Work for Ghana project is being implemented.
Two private and public KGs were selected to provide qualitative and quantitative data in each district, with the exception of the Wa East District, which does not have private KGs.
With funding provided by the World Bank Global Partnership for Social Accountability, data was collected from parents, head teachers, education directors, district assemblies and the Ghana Education Service (GES) via a questionnaire, interviews, focus group discussions and documentary analysis.
A total of 118 KG schools with 11,740 pupils participated over the course of three months, starting in May 2017.
Education for All: Is Ghana Leaving KGs Behind?
Key findings and recommendations of the report include issues of accreditation, teacher training, infrastructure, teaching and learning materials, enrolment, and feeding.
Thirty-two percent of private KGs have not been accredited. The GES must ensure that all private KGs comply with regulatory standards and are accredited within one year of operations. The GES must also monitor to ensure that KGs keep to standards, and improve upon accreditation criteria to include teacher qualifications.
Forty-one percent of KG teachers are untrained. The situation is worse in private KGs, where about 81 percent of teachers are untrained. The Ministry of Education must create training modules for untrained teachers in the field, and the metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies must help ensure that professional teachers are deployed.
Twenty-four percent of public KGs do not have classrooms. The situation is common in the Upper West Region, where KGs also lack appropriate furniture, resulting in most pupils sitting on mats, plastic containers, benches, blocks, dining tables, wooden logs, stools, and in some cases, on the bare floor to learn. Thirty-two percent of KGs lack toilet facilities, resulting in children practicing open defecation. Twenty-three percent of KGs do not have hand washing facilities, exposing children to diseases such as diarrhea. Twenty-two of the KG schools do not have access to a potable water supply, and 23 percent do not have storage facilities for water due to cost constraints. The government must provide safe and adequate infrastructure equipped with furniture that meets standards, including water and sanitation facilities.
Teaching and Learning Materials
Textbook to pupil ratio is 0.2 books per pupil. Other materials, such as flash cards, puzzles, Lego, wall charts, brushes, poster colours and crayons are either mostly unavailable or inadequate. Parents (directly or indirectly) bear 69 percent of textbook costs. The government should increase funding to the goods and services item of the education sector budget above 20 percent and ensure it is released on time. Cooperation with parents as well as other private and public organisations will enable the government to raise more resources.
Twenty percent of 4- and 5-year-olds are not enrolled in pre-school, mostly due to poverty and long distance travel from their homes to the nearest KG schools.
Twenty-seven percent of public KGs are not on the school feeding programme. The government should expand the programme to include all public and private KGs operating in impoverished communities. This will encourage parents to send their wards to school without apprehension about daily feeding fees.
Report recommendations also call for the creation of a KG monitoring and evaluation framework, and appeal to government at the district and national levels to make specific budgetary allocations for KG education. Charities, NGOs, philanthropies and corporate entities are also called on to support KG education as part of their corporate social responsibility.
“You cannot have good citizens without growing them”
At the report launch, SEND West Africa CEO Siapha Kamara told GES staff, directors from the district assemblies of education, media representatives and colleagues in the civil society sector that SEND is giving priority to pre-school, because “if we are to deliver free and compulsory education at all levels … we have to lay the foundation.”
“The pre-school beneficiaries, our young ones who don’t have a voice … we serve as their vehicle so that their issues become the concern of the public,” Kamara said.
Kamara explained that SEND’s strategic direction is making Ghana work for equity.
“Those who were poor before Ghana started getting better, many of them remain poor … in the educational sector, that’s where inequality starts, the pre-school,” said Kamara. “That is why this work is so important, so that Ghanaians wake up to the situation facing the pre-school policy that was launched by his excellency the President Kufuor, committing subsequent government to deliver quality … pre-school education.”
Kamara urged the media to bring the concerns expressed in the report to parliament, and for the government and GES to take necessary action.
“The right thing needs to be done”
Adenta Municipal Director of Education Frances Mabel Williams and Samuel Otopah Ntow, the director in charge of pre-tertiary schools, responded to the report findings, with Williams first saying that she was “really touched” by the report and that “all that (SEND) said was true.”
After thanking SEND for the report, Williams promised that “the textbook issue will be solved next academic year” and said GES is “trying to work on the furniture issue.”
Ntow said that the issue of untrained teachers is “all about ability to pay professional teachers” and that the number of schools needs to be expanded to resolve the teacher-pupil ratio problem.
Ntow further said that “the private sector has no endorsed policy on registration or accreditation … we just have a bill in parliament and that is why we have a lot of our citizens just moving around establishing schools here and there … at unapproved places.”
He said the board will be putting some guidelines together to regulate the activities of primary schools within the country, but because “some of the private schools are not known by the districts … it becomes difficult to work with them.”
Ntow added that monitoring visits are not done because “even at the Ghana Education Service headquarters, the primary school desk has not been well-instituted.”
“For more than 20 years, I know we have one person as a desk officer … he has to get some people to work with. (He has) no office, no auxiliary staff, it is just a one-man show, and I think that if that section can also be vitalized issues of primary schools can be well-addressed.”
The launch came to a close with a Q&A and an audience member’s call for “serious government action from the top.”