THE ABYSMALLY poor performance of the Schools in the three Northern Regions in the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) over the years has now become a major source of grave concern for stakeholders in education in the area.
The stakeholders are now obliged to hold the bull by the horn by fashioning out measures that would ensure the immediate reverse of the situation before it gets out of control. Meanwhile, school enrolments have increased drastically in the Northern Regions but the academic performance in the BECE examination continues to leave much to be desired.
The performance of the schools according to stakeholders is now beyond description especially in the Tamale Metropolis. So many factors have therefore been assigned to the poor performance of the schools, but prominent among them include the insufficient number of trained teachers, teacher absenteeism, inadequate classrooms, lack of cooperation between schools and parents and most especially lack of monitoring and supervision.
However, the Metropolis which is the Regional capital of the Northern Region and can boast of all the necessary basic amenities that can facilitate teaching and learning, placed 103 out 137 districts in Ghana on the 2009/2010 BECE examination ladder.
However, at a two day Learning Festival on Performance of Schools in the Northern Region organized by the Volunteer Services Overseas (VSO) in Tamale, the stakeholders were at lost as to whether to put the blame on teachers, parents, government or the children themselves, who sometimes spend their precious hours to attend discotheques/night clubs or watching television.
The Learning Festival which aims at reviewing the performance of schools in the BECE is part of VSO Ghana’s five year education project called “Tackling Educational Needs Inclusively (TENI). It was attended by officials from the Ghana Education Service, Parents Teachers Associations, District Assembly representatives, the media, traditional leaders and Community based Organizations among others.
The five year TENI Project which was supported by Comic Relief, is expected to benefit about 48,000 children and 25,000 community members in three districts namely Jirapa, Talensi-Nabdam and West Mamprusi. Other vital areas being considered for discussion include the trend of performance, effects of teacher deployment, contact time, supervision and community participation on performance of children.
However, Mr. Eric Duorinaah the Project Coordinator of TENI vehemently blamed the performance of the schools on Circuit Supervisors in the regions who are reportedly refusing to live up to expectation.
He asserted that his office had received several complains from heads of schools and some PTA members about some Circuit Supervisors who had for months or years now been relying on mobile phones to solicit information or receive reports about what goes on in the various schools, instead of making surprise visits to the schools.
According to Mr. Duorinaah, the poor performance of the schools and the pupils could also be blamed on Circuit Supervisors who in recent times had been refusing to visit most of the schools under their jurisdictions for no obvious reasons.
He indicated that there had been several reports against most circuit supervisors who had resorted to the use of mobile phones to take information they require from teachers. This he said had promoted laziness, teacher absenteeism and ineffectiveness.
The TENI Coordinator however called for a shift from the conventional way of managing education in Ghana , to a more systemic, joint action between government and civil society organizations.
However, a Representative from the Ghana Education Service (GES) Headquarters, Mrs. Josephine Kufuor-Duah in an interview with Savannahnews expressed the need for proper research into the falling standard of education in the Northern Region.
According to her, the GES and its partners had over the years put a lot of interventions to the education sector in the North, yet the standard continues to be abysmally poor. She is not sure whether the problem is coming from the teachers, parents, government or the children themselves.
Mrs. Kufuor-Duah noted that the problem in the education sector in Northern Ghana was not about inadequate infrastructure but rather inadequate trained teachers, poor monitoring and supervision as well as lack of parental support.
She bemoaned that there were several parents who did not even know how good or bad their wards behave in school and most of them did not also care to known how the school itself was building the future of their children.
“Some parents do not attend PTA meetings, they do not visit their children at school, and they don’t know the kind of friends the children move with during and after school hours. Others also allow their children to watch Television/movies through out the night instead of advising them to do their assignments”.