Ghana Monday hosted Education and Finance ministers from 22 Western and Central African countries in Accra, to discuss and adopt a new education strategy being spearheaded by the World Bank to improve learning outcomes.
The education strategy, expected to be implemented from 2022 to 2025, requires governments and society approaches to prioritise education on the continent for all children of school-going age.
It is hoped that governments would allocate significant financial resources towards implementing the strategy to ensure that 30 million children within the region could read and understand simple tasks by 2030.
Also, hopefully, 2.5 million adolescent girls would be enrolled in school, 3.7 million additional young people would acquire basic functional skills while one million youth secure digital skills by 2025 to enable 60 per cent of them to obtain better jobs.
Speaking at the Ministerial Meeting on Education for Western and Central African countries in Accra, organised by the World Bank, Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia said Ghana, over the last five years, had introduced ambitious education reforms and policies to reposition the country’s education system to produce a critical mass of assertive and empowered Ghanaians.
“Ghana’s education reform agenda can benefit from collaboration and synergy with our regional partners,” he said.
As in the case of several other countries in Western and Central Africa, Ghana had introduced several education reforms and policies to strengthen and improve the quality of education delivery and increase accessibility for all children, Dr Bawumia said.
“Ghana is proud to be co-hosting this very important regional ministerial event that has brought together Ministers of Finance and Education from 22 countries representing West and Central Africa.”
“The objectives of this conference are designed to galvanise action, thus, highlighting key findings of the World Bank Africa Western and Central Education Strategy 2022-2025.”
It aimed at building a coalition on education and a movement for increased focus on quality education delivery to promote human capital in the two sub-regions.
The Vice President said more efforts were needed to rationalise the governance of education systems to achieve greater coherence, cooperation and coordination.
“Indeed, the relationship between socioeconomic development and human capital is critical and Ghana’s policies on education access, quality, equity, relevance, skills acquisition and education financing reflect how Ghana is using education as a leveller for human capital development and socio-economic transformation,” Dr Bawumia said.
“Ghana is dealing with the issue of learning poverty and the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, that is why I am happy about the focus on the strategic themes of the conference including; finance and governance, tackling learning poverty and foundational skills, technical vocational education and training, and tertiary education and skills.”
Vice-President Bawumia said the government had instituted strong public financial management systems and processes to reduce bottlenecks in downstream budget execution and reporting through the expansion of the Ghana Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) to decentralised levels.
Some of the reforms are the review of the pre-tertiary education curriculum, assessment and the introduction of the National Standardized Test to enable the country to evaluate students’ performance as well as the implementation of the pre-tertiary accountability framework.
Others are the operationalisation of a new school inspection and supervision regime and reform of secondary education focusing on access to Free Senior High School (SHS).
Under the Free SHS, Dr Bawumia said enrollment increased from 800,000 in 2017 to almost 1.3 million in 2022 as well as an establishment of the CTVET and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Service to operationalise the vocational education training space.
Beginning this academic year, he said, the government introduced Free TVET to improve access to skills acquisition.
To enhance the quality of technical education, the Government recently commissioned rehabilitated and upgraded laboratories and workshops in technical universities and institutes in Ghana, he stated.
“Government is also establishing at least two state-of-the-art TVET centres in each region of the 16 regions to boost TVET education,” Dr Bawumia stated.
“In refocusing the STEM agenda, the Government is operationalising 10 new STEM Senior High Schools with an additional 35 STEM schools and five universities earmarked for construction.”
The government was also collaborating with the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) to train girls at the pre-tertiary level in Mathematical Sciences, he said.
It had also built the first STEM Senior High School at Bosomtwe in the Ashanti Region to equip students with 21st-century skills in robotics, artificial intelligence, aerospace, and aeronautics among other fields.
To lessen the financial burden on students, the government had instituted the No Guarantor Students Loan Scheme to provide access to financing for tertiary education in Ghana, Vice President Bawumia said.
That would help improve Ghana’s Gross Tertiary Enrollment Ratio from the current 20 per cent to the desired 40 per cent by 2030.
Mr Ousmane Diagana, the World Bank’s Vice President for Western and Central Africa, in his welcome remarks, said the Bank’s strategy was to respond to the needs of the Continent, citing Ghana as a clear example of showing leadership in her education reforms.