|JaneAgyemang, Education Minister|
The Government of Ghana with technical and financial support from the School for Life (SfL) and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) will from this September enrol 55,000 school dropouts into a Complementary Basic Education (CBE) Programme which began last year.
This follows a successful implementation of the first phase of the CBE programme which saw some 24,700 school dropouts out of an initial target of 25,000 benefiting from it. The beneficiaries came from 34 districts in 4 regions including the Northern, Upper West, Upper East and Brong Ahafo benefiting from it.
A Deputy Manager of SfL in charge of Gender and Advocacy, Mrs. Lorentia Abakisi Dakura, announced this at the second quarterly media review meeting of the Ghanaian Developing Communities Association (GDCA) in Tamale.
The review meeting was aimed at taking stock of activities being implemented under the second phase of the Empowerment for Life (E4L); a five year programme being implemented by the GDCA and the Youth Empowerment for Life with funding from the Ghana Venskabsgrupperne, a Danish partner.
E4L is implemented in 15 districts in the Northern Region. The programme which was launched in 2010 and expected to end on 31st December, 2014, is aimed at empowering the poor, vulnerable and marginalised groups to have the capacity and ability to improve their quality of life through education, employment, local organisation as well as better access to and management of food and water resources on the basis of a rights-based approach.
According to Mrs. Dakura, about 10,000 children from 9 districts in the Northern and Upper West Regions benefited from the first phase of the CBE programme. “It is envisaged that, over 90 percent of them would be integrated into the formal education system when schools reopen in September 2014,” she intimated.
She called on parents and guardians in remote communities and urban centres to enrol their children in these schools. She also called on the government to provide budgetary support as well as enact a legislative instrument to support the continue running of the programme.
An estimated 1 million children, according to Ghana’s Ministry of Education, are believed to be out-of-school nationwide. This is as a result of poverty amongst families, lack of teachers and classroom infrastructure, cultural and religious beliefs that discriminate against female education and among others.
Despite several attempts by governments and other stakeholders in the educational sector over the years to avert the trend, it appears the complexity surrounding the issue of school dropouts and poor quality education will also need a rather more sophisticated approach to deal with the problem in a sustained manner.
For instance, most school dropouts are found in rural areas of the country where the lack of social amenities to a large extent, discourage a lot of competent teachers to accept postings to go there and teach.
Besides, some ethnic groups in Northern Ghana believe that, female education is unimportant, because women unlike their male counterparts do not stay in the family when they grow up but get married. Thus, a greater percentage of women (over 65 percent) in the Northern Region alone cannot read or write as against over 68 percent of men who can read and write, according to a Ghana Living Standards Survey report.
Against this backdrop, SfL which works to strengthen civil society’s role in improving access to quality education and retention of pupils in school, has over the years proven that with sustained support from governments and other stakeholders, the number of school dropouts could drop drastically through its CBE model.
The Ghana CBE programme provides an added impetus to the literacy drive in the country, using the SfL methodology which involves the use of the mother tongue as the mode for all instructions.
It takes approximately nine months for a child to go through the CBE system and he/she is taught local languages, music and dance, as well as reading and writing. Children are also taught some basic skills and knowledge that is useful in their families and communities, thus promoting a positive perception of education in the hope that families will choose to let the children continue their education in formal schools after graduation.
Since its establishment as a non-governmental organisation in 1995, SfL has made over 170,000 children literates in their mother tongue and about 80 percent of these children have been integrated into the formal school system. Today, many past SfL graduates can be found in higher institutions of learning including Universities, Polyclinics, Colleges of Education, Nursing Training Colleges and Senior High Schools. Many are also professionals in various fields including teaching, nursing, accounting and other life endeavours.