Ghana: School Dropouts to Access Free Online Vocational Courses
The Minister for Education, Hon. Alex Tettey- Enyo, has said that the National Democratic Congress government has instituted a long distance education programme, the Technical Vocational Educational Training (TVET), in which all the courses may be taken online and free of charge to participating students.
The programme, which would be launched at Suame Magazine in Kumasi by June 2010, will teach courses like automotive engineering, welding and fabrication, masonry, carpentry, hospitality and tourism, with numeracy and English as a second language.
This, according to the Minister is part of the government's policy on basic school leavers who are unable to make the grades into senior high school or who drop out of primary and junior high schools is to provide them with apprenticeship training in both formal and informal sectors. He added that this will make them have at least a vocation, to make ends meet.
The Minister disclosed this in Parliament while answering a question by the Member of Parliament (MP) for Asunafo South, Hon. George Boakye . The MP wanted to know the plans the Ministry of Education in respect of the large army of basic school leavers who are unable to continue their education to the senior high school to make them productive.
Hon. Alex-Enyo added that plans are far advanced to also establish a National Apprenticeship Training Board that will be responsible for training these dropouts. He said the curriculum of the programme will cover 25 identified skill areas and will include communication, entrepreneurial and numeracy skills.
"Arrangements are being made to source funds from the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) to enable the apprenticeship programme to begin this year. About 15,000 BECE graduates will be trained under the first phase," the minister revealed.
"It is envisaged that graduates, after the training would be adequately prepared to start small businesses at the level of their competence and contribute meaningfully to national development," said Hon. Tettey- Enyo.
The MP for Atwima Nwabiagya , Hon. Benito Owusu-Bio also wanted to know how the first batch of the one lap-top-per child (OLPC) project was distributed to school pupils and when the exercise will be completed.
The Education Minister said, regional directors and district directors of Ghana Education Service (GES) were invited to identify primary schools that had electricity and secure rooms for the computers. He said a final list of thirty beneficiary primary schools (three per regions) was prepared after which distribution was done through regional and district directors to head teachers of the beneficiary primary schools in August,2009.
"The OLPC concept is in principle a good programme but there are serious sustainability and security issues that need to be guaranteed before the programme can be continued. The ministry is committed to deployment of ICT in the teaching and learning process and efforts are being made to provide class or laboratory solutions and not one-to-one solution at the pre-tertiary level in view of the capital intensive nature of ICT deployment," said Hon. Alex Tettey-Enyo.
He also revealed that last year his Ministry took delivery of 1000 pieces of XO laptops for the OLPC programme under an agreement made between Ghana One Laptop per Child Foundation (GOLPCF) and the One Laptop Per Child Organisation of the U.S.A in 2008 for supply of 10,000 laptops for distribution nationwide.
Meanwhile a study conducted by the Integrated Social Development Center (ISODEC)in partnership with Global Development Network (GDN) and Results For Development (R4D), revealed that in the education sector the poor benefits a lot from primary education creating a yearly rise in basic school enrolment. Some of such benefits are the Capitation Grant and the School Feeding Programmes. With less government interventions for senior high schools and at the tertiary level; more pupils competing for the same infrastructure and non-improvement in the provision of educational infrastructure, more children of the wealthy are the beneficiaries of the school system. This makes it difficult for the poor child to continue his education.
According to the study, this can be attributed to the use of education sector budget on recurrent expenditure. The education sector received the highest chunk of government budgetary support. The actual education expenditure as a share of GDP for the period 2006-2008 based on the findings was above 8% of GDP, increasing from 8.3% in 2006 to 9.9% in 2008. In 2006, the recurrent expenditure as a share of total education spending was about 82%, this was reduced marginally to about 80% in 2007 but went up to about 87% in 2008. This means that in 2008 capital expenditure was only about 13 % of the education budget.
Again, even though recurrent expenditure was found to be higher at the lower levels of education than at the higher levels, and despite improved incentive packages teachers at the basic level still refuse postings to rural areas.
Out of this analysis, it can be surmised that the percentage of pupils who drop out of school at the basic level will continue to rise. This is because though there is a rise in school enrolment at the basic level, there is no improvement and expansion in secondary and tertiary infrastructure.
Based on these findings ISODEC, with its partners namely GDN and R4D, has recommended that there should be increased investment on primary education in deprived and rural areas to improve the quality of education at that level.
Secondly there should be increased investment for the provision and expansion of secondary and tertiary facilities in deprived and rural districts to increase their accessibility.
Finally there should be a standard for providing infrastructure at the basic level of education. Computer laboratories, workshops for technical and vocation skills be placed at strategic location for school children to access in case these cannot be provided for all schools.