QUALITY EDUCATION MUST BE ACCESSIBLE TO ALL STUDENTS
The right to education is not just the right to access education but also the right to receive quality education. Education must be available and accessible, but also acceptable and adaptable. I strongly believe the free education policy, which has been enrolled by the government, is the gateway to the right to education, but my concern is quality education for all.
Right to Education According to Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948): ‘Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.’ Based on the international legal framework, students must receive quality education that enables their personalities, talents and abilities to be harnessed and enable them to live a full and satisfying life within society. Apart of our (Unilime Foundation) field work, where volunteers embarked on a research to know the some of the real problems confronting rural areas in Education. A visit to the Agormor D/A Basic School and its environs of the Akatsi North District in the Volta Region gave us a better understanding of the real situation pupils and students are facing in the rural areas.
How Ghana promote equality, equity and quality education when those in the rural areas do not have the conducive environment to learn? School buildings are deteriorated, inadequate furniture, among other things which is not conducive to promote teaching and learning. Students are easily distracted by farm animals walking in and out of the of the school compound because, there are no windows and doors to the classrooms where animals can easily walk into the classrooms. There is a need to create a conducive environment for those in the rural areas so government can proudly say they are promoting equality, equity and quality education. How can you ensure equality, equity and quality education when students and pupils do not have requisite learning materials as well as other logistics to learn with?
Barriers of Quality Education
Some schools in rural areas do not have trained teachers because, the trained teachers are reluctant to go there. Some residents who have some level of education, therefore, take the responsibility of teachers and teach the students voluntarily. Some students carry tables and chairs to school because, there are inadequate furniture in their schools. These are all barriers to quality education which must be addressed. Interacting with the Headmaster at the Head teachers of the Agormor D/A Basic School, Mr. Degbey Augustine Yao disclosed that teachers end up using their capitation grants to provide the needy students necessary materials to enhance teaching and learning in the school. He explained that, since it is a farming community, parents find it difficult to raise money to buy exercise books among other learning materials for their awards, therefore they need assistance of learning and reading materials to enhance teaching and learning in the district. Even though, he said government is doing its best, he called for the assistance of other benevolent organisations and individuals to come to their aid to compliment government’s effort. “We go to the extent of using our capitation grants to buy school uniform for the students because, the ones government provide is inadequate so we that to compliment government effort,” he noted. Governments always preach about quality education, but all efforts to provide the quality education enjoyed by those in urban areas to these rural areas have not yielded much.
Equity or Equality Is this equity or equality? My worry is that these students write the same examination during the Basic Examination Certificate Examination (BECE) and West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), meanwhile those in the rural areas are unable to complete their syllabus and do not have the requisite materials or logistics for learning. According to international law, everyone has the right to receive education of good quality. States have ‘to ensure that the standards of education are equivalent in all public educational institutions of the same level, and that the conditions relating to the quality of the education provided are also equivalent’ (Article 4(b), UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education, 1960). Additionally, states are obliged to adopt minimum educational standards to ensure that all schools, public and private, offer the same quality education (Article 13, ICESCR, 1966; Article 29(2), CRC, 1989; Article 2, UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education, 1960). How do we expect students who do not complete their syllabus to pass and further their education? It has always been the problem of the day, because eventually they do not pass their examination, and are, therefore, not encouraged to further their education. This makes them resort to whatever other means they find to make a living, including illegal means, which retard our development as a country. However when we get more scholars in the rural areas, they can also develop their areas and would not wait for government to do so for them. Speaking to some students, they pointed out that, due to the scattered settlement of the community, sometimes it is very challenging to come to school when it rains. This is due to bad roads and there are no vehicles to convey people because of the nature of the roads.
They noted that, the situation gets worse when the roads gets flooded by rains, where some could stay at home for a week before coming to school. This situation contribute to lateness in school among other inconveniences. They called on government to assist them with a bus and construct good roads for easy transport.
The Way Forward Government must rise beyond promises and act. They must rise beyond politics and focus on a common goal, and provide necessary materials to enhance quality education. There should be incentives and attractive packages to those who are willing to teach in rural areas. They need more trained teachers and not just pupil teachers. There is need to put aside partizan – political colors and come together as a country to address the challenges confronting educational system in the country for a better generation. Education is the only key to development; therefore, stakeholders should come together and promote quality education, not just access to school. Therefore, In order to promote quality education and achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Four which states “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” Unilime Foundation playing an advocacy role is calling on government, stakeholders and benevolent organisations to get involved in promoting equal and quality education so that Ghana can stand proud in development.
Source: UNILIME News Accra Branch