SONA 2016: VIAM-Africa head scores Prez. Mahama low on education

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6396861889709_9469675093630The head of an educational NGO, VIAM Africa Centre for Education and Social Policy has said president John Mahama’s state of the nation address is loudly silent on key issues affecting the educational sector.

Dr Prince Armah could not hide his disappointment with what he said is the president’s failure to touch on the national teaching council, the body expected to regulate activities of teachers in the country.

Just like the Medical and Dental council for the health sector, the General Legal Council for the law profession, Dr Armah believes the National Teaching Council should be given the autonomy it needs to regulate activities of teachers.

President John Mahama in his state of the nation address on Thursday mentioned a number of activities government had undertaken in the educational sector in 2015.

He cited the teacher professional development policy aimed at training at least 95% of teachers at the basic level.

He also reiterated government’s commitment to complete the 200 SHS Community schools as well as build ten universities in each of the ten regions in Ghana.

The president also mentioned increased enrolment at all levels of education and cited the provision of free exercise and text books, shoes etc.

While acknowledging some of these achievements by the president, Dr Prince Armah told Myjoyonline.com in an interview these policies were haphazard and largely uncoordinated.

He chided what he said was the president’s “limited understanding” on the concept of access to education.

“If you read the speech clearly the president appeared to define access to education as merely the provision of infrastructure and which is a very narrow understanding of access,” he said.

He said access can be improved in several other ways apart from infrastructure development.

He cited the policy decision to withdraw allowances to teacher trainees, a policy he said had increased enrolment to teacher trainee institutions from 9,000 to 15,000.

“There are a lot of policy [defects] that imposes limitations on people having access to education,” he said, adding the BECE is another major policy that limits access to education and must be scrapped.

He said there has to be a redefinition of basic education to include senior high school education.

The president in his address mentioned the 200 community SHS school project which he said was at several stages of completion.

But Dr Prince Armah is convinced these schools, most of which he said will not be completed before 2017, will also not address the issue of technical and vocational training.

“As we speak now all the interventions that we have had has not resulted in any improved learning outcome and the evidence is clear,” he said.

He called for a more deliberate, methodical policy intervention that will ensure improved inclusive education, teaching and learning.

-myjoyonline

ABOUT: Nana Kwesi Coomson

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A Freelance Journalist, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist. Editor-in-Chief of www.233times.com. A contributory writer for Ghanaian Chronicle Newspaper. An alumnus of Adisadel College where he read General Arts. He holds first degree in Bachelor of Arts from the University of Ghana; Political Science (major) and History (minor). He has also pursued MSc Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Energy with Public Relations (PR) at the Robert Gordon University in the United Kingdom. His mentors are Rupert Murdoch, Warren Buffet, Sam Jonah, Kwaku Sakyi Addo and Piers Morgan

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