Localizing educationHere in Ghana, a quarter or more of all girls are not enrolled in primary school. Getting them into the classroom is one of the goals of our current programme to improve education quality. This activity has paralleled efforts to recover from the devastating economic decline of the 1970s and early 1980s.
In 1980/1981, just before the reform began, education’s share of the national recurrent budget was 17 per cent, but by 1994 it had reached a peak of 41 per cent, with a budget of 187 billion Cedis ($100 million). Although it dropped to 35 per cent in 1997, the share of the education budget devoted to primary schooling climbed to 66 per cent this year, from 44 per cent in 1984.
After a decade of reform, we are working to improve the quality of instruction, strengthen and decentralize management and make sure more children have a seat in the schoolroom. In 1996, we initiated a plan for Free, Compulsory and Universal Basic Education, or FCUBE, aimed at expanding access, improving teaching quality and increasing efficiency in administration.
One of our main objectives is to localize education. District Education
Oversight Committees and local School Management Committees have been established
nationwide to participate in teacher recruitment and school upkeep. FCUBE
also provides scholarships for girls. The quality of teaching is receiving
a big boost with teacher colleges earmarked for renovations and new training
A new curriculum is being developed, and our policy requiring that children be taught in their mother tongue for the first three years of primary school will be more vigorously pursued. The curriculum will continue to address new challenges and trends, such as teen pregnancy, drug abuse, HIV/AIDS, safe motherhood and the environment. Science resource centres are being established in all 110 districts, building know-how in science and computer literacy to prepare our children for the future—and the present.
The challenges faced by all countries in fulfilling people’s human rights are substantial. Education is not only a fundamental right, it is also the best tool governments have for guaranteeing that their citizens have the ability to claim their other rights.
In the early 1990s, more than one quarter of the 94 million children
who enrolled in school in developing countries each year did not reach
the fifth grade. More than 25 million girls and boys walked through the
classroom door full of excitement and anticipation—only to have their hopes
thwarted. That is a human tragedy. If we can find the will, we can create
schools that fulfil their hopes and dreams.