SPEECH DELIVERED AT THE 2019 NATIONAL EDUCATION WEEK

I would like to begin by welcoming you to the 2ndNational Education Week, and I thank you for your participation in this important event. 

In 2018, we merged the National Education Sector Annual Review (NESAR) with the Evidence Summit. The imperative was to ensure that evidence from paper presentations becomes part of the technical discussions in order to improve the recommendations that will be made to the Ministry. The improvement in discussions and recommendations we had from the maiden National Education Week is an indication that the right decision was taken. The NEW platform where stakeholders gather to assess sector performance and make recommendations for improvement has therefore become critical to effective policy and strategy decision making to the Ministry. 

Mr. Chairman,

We started off in 2017 with the resolve to pursue bold and transformative measures to address challenges that had hindered progress of the Education sector for many years. We were convinced that those difficult decisions were critical to make access to education equitable and improve quality across the board. 

First, Basic Schools had high a incidence of extra fees and levies as Capitation Grant amount of GHS 4.5 per child per year was deemed to be inadequate. Research conducted by the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) in 2015 revealed that fees and levies charged to pupils hindered access and effective participation in basic education to those who had difficulty paying fees and levies imposed by the schools. Effective 2017/18 academic year, Capitation Grant amount was increased from GHS 4.5 per student per year to GHS 10.0 per student per year. The 122% increase in per capita Capitation Grant is expected to remove cost barriers to free access and provide schools with minimum amount of funds required to keep schools running. 

Second, we were confronted with an outdated curricular. Indeed, attempts had been made in past years without success to revise as curriculum as it is seen as key to the delivery of quality education. In 2017, we prioritized curriculum revision and pursued it aggressively. Within the period under review, KG – Primary curriculum was completed. Roll-out is set to commence in September when the 2019/2020 academic year starts. With the revised curricular, emphasis has been placed on the acquisition of foundational reading, writing, arithmetic and creativity skills. Ahead of implementation, all the necessary Teaching and Learning Materials have been developed and training of teachers for delivery is currently ongoing across the country.

At the Secondary level, there was evidence that cost barriers constrained access and effective participation for many eligible students. Cost and ability to pay fees were cited as contributory factors in explaining why many truncated their education at the basic level. Indeed, evidence showed that every year, an average of 100,000  JHS graduates who qualified and we placed in public SHS failed to enroll. We boldly confronted the challenge and rolled out free SHS in 2017, essentially removing cost barriers to secondary education. The response been a phenomenalincresae in Secondary level enrolment. Significantly, the percentage of students placed that fail to enroll has declined from 27% (111,336 students) of all students placed to in 2016 to 11% (53,107 students) of all students placed in 2018. 

Moreover, the existing catchment area quota in school placement was reformed into equity placement for students from public JHS. By this initiative,30% of places in 55 elite SHS has been reserved for students from public JHS who were underrepresented in the elite schools. Following the implementation of equity placement measure, 49% of total of free SHS beneficiaries in the elite schools are from public JHS.

Teachers were not adequately prepared for the delivery of quality education. Within the period, teacher training curriculum has been revised. This is intended to adequately equip the teacher for the delivery of our national curriculum. Further, we have upgraded pre-service teacher training from  a 3-year Diploma in Basic Education to a 4-year Bachelor of Education Degree Programme. To facilitate this, our Colleges of Education have been affiliated to various public Universities. In addition, specializations have been introduced, hence, teachers will now specialize to teaching at Kindergartens and specific subjects at the Basic level. 

At the TVET sub-sector, we were confronted with the challenge of poor coordination, different management structures and governance arrangement that affected the development of TVET and skills training sub-sector. Given the potential of TVET to our national development, we had a big vision for the sub-sector. We have within the period put together a 5-year TVET strategic plan that is guiding the development on the TVET and skills training front.

At the Tertiary level, we met a sector without a guiding policy direction. Consequently, tertiary education had developed without proper guidance as expansion was not properly coordinated. Within the period, we took on the challenge and developed a National Tertiary Education Policy with extensive stakeholder consultations. 

Generally, the education sector had outdated legal and institutional framework. This posed a challenge to effective management and governance of the sector for the delivery of quality service. To address this, we initiated a comprehensive legal and institutional reform agenda in 2017. To date, the Ministry has 5 bills laid before Parliament.

REFORM SECRETRIAT

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen

As drivers of this agenda from our various frontline positions in the education sector, we have an important duty to ensure that together, these reforms impact positively on learning outcomes in this country.   

Ultimately, improved learning outcomes will equip our children with the skills that they need to become confident, competitive, resourceful and innovative citizens, ready to drive our industrial growth and also to play an important part in the global economy in response to the challenges and complexities of the 21stcentury. 

To achieve the intended outcome of the reforms, there is the need to create an institutional delivery framework dedicated to the coordination, alignment, harmonization, monitoring, tracking and evaluation of KPIs and targets of key reform initiatives and the provision of capacity support to Reform Owners to address capacity gaps and slippages. This led to the adoption of the “EDUCATION REFORM DELIVERY FRAMEWORK” and the establishment of the Education Reform Secretariat in December 2018, which I had the honour to inaugurate.

Focus on Innovations

The comprehensive reform agenda will continue to be the focus of the Ministry’s work over the next year. The theme for the 2019 National Education Week (NEW), ‘Reforming the Education Sector for Effective Service Deliver: Embracing Innovations’brings focus to the reform agenda and highlight the importance of innovative and creative ways of working to the education sector. It signals the Ministry’s intention to work with stakeholders in adapting proven measures that will accelerate the pace of progress in the education sector.

The Challenge Ahead and the need to Embrace Innovations

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In spite of progress made during the period, the Ministry faces enormous challenges a s it strives to achieve the goals set out in the Education Strategic Plan (ESP). Meeting the set goals will thus, require a system that is open and adaptive of innovative and creative approaches to the delivery of services. 

First, the ESP enjoins us to work to achieve 65% of all Primary 4 pupils being proficient in English by 2030. Currently, 37% of Primary 4 pupils are proficient in English. In Mathematics, the ESP target is to achieve 50% proficiency rate by all Primary 4 pupils by 2030. The current P4 mathematics proficiency rate is 22%. At the Secondary level, the ESP target for tertiary qualification rate is 50% by 2030. The tertiary qualification rate has averaged 25% over the last 5 years. At the Tertiary level, we have committed to increase Gross Enrolment Rate (GER) from the current 15.95% to 40% by 2030.  Again, we have committed to attain 60:40 sciences to humanities ratio at the tertiary level. The current science to humanities ratio is 29:71.

Whilst I remain optimistic that we can achieve the set ESP targets, lessons from the implementation of previous strategic plans should make the sector open to innovative and creative ways of implementing and financing the ESP. As a sector, we have grown accustomed to our ways of teaching and delivering lessons, monitoring and supervision, assessment, human resource development and career development among others. While these approaches have resulted in some modest improvement in the sector, achieving the ESP targets by 2030 requires improvement in learning and access to occur at faster pace than the current rate of improvement.

Collectively, we have to articulate new approaches that will challenge us and alter our paths to implementation in order to achieve the set targets. What needs to change, whose actions need to change, and how best we organize change are issues we need to discuss dispassionately and present recommendations to the Ministry.

Second, full implementation of the ESP is estimated to cost 165 billion cedis. Projected revenues to the sector is estimated at 149 billion cedis over the ESP implementation period. Again, our history of funding gap in annual budget implementation should make us embrace innovative funding mechanisms if we are to achieve the goals set in the ESP. We need to look beyond the traditional funding sources such as the Budget and Donors and embrace non-traditional financing mechanism. Evidence abounds in other countries where the Education sector has leveraged non-traditional sources of funding and designed funding mechanisms for social good.  

Transformative and Innovative Measures

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen

In keeping to our resolve to pursue bold, transformative and innovative measures to improve education, the Ministry signaled its intention to enter into collaborative partnerships with non-state actors in the delivery of quality education in selected low performing schools. Currently, discussions are ongoing with Vodacom to use innovative funding mechanism to develop a data management system dashboard for decision making. Again, we are in discussions with Education Outcomes Fund (EOF) to launch outcomes based initiative in education by leveraging private sector resources. 

 It should be noted that collaborative partnerships with non-state actors have been pursued in the past. For instance, non-state actors were the main implementing partners in the delivery of Complementary Basic Education (CBE). Through the partnerships under CBE, the Ministry has trained and successfully mainstreamed over 250,000 out-of-school children in the formal school system. 

I believe we need to assess our implementation, financing and management strategies that has delivered, albeit slowly, the results that we so desire. Our next move should be to resolve to meet the goals of the ESP and embrace innovative practices that will propel the education sector to levels we all desire.  

Conclusion

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,

To conclude, I would like to emphasize that we will continue with our bold resolve to transform the sector and prepare the Ghanaian child to compete with the best in the world.  At this important gathering of stakeholders, our purpose should be to offer practical suggestions for innovations that could be adopted to bring about necessary changes and results for the education sector. Without such change in approaches and new ways of working, there is the risk of inertia and bureaucracies in the education service recognizing limitations in their traditional approaches but finding themselves unable to react with sufficient forcefulness and purpose to alter outcomes.

As a sector, we have developed the Education Strategic Plan (ESP 2018-2030) as a guide to help in our effort to attain SDG 4. In the spirit of collaboration, every stakeholder must make an effort to work within the framework of the ESP and build effective partnerships with the Ministry and other stakeholders in order to complement each other’s effort towards the attainment of the ESP targets. 

In this regard, I hereby launch the Education Strategic Plan (ESP 2018-2030).

 SPEECH DELIVERED BY THE HON. MINISTER FOR EDUCATION DURING THE 2019 NATIONAL EDUCATION WEEKThank you!!

Leave a Reply

2 × 1 =