Education reforms at the tertiary level will be misplaced without compulsory basic education, the Presidential Candidate of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom has argued.
Education was the first issue on the table at the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) and National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) Presidential Debate at the State Banquet Hall in Accra on Wednesday.
The five candidates present; the National Democratic Congress’ (NDC), President John Mahama, the PPP’s, Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom, the Independent Candidate, Joseph Osei Yeboah; the People’s National Convention’s (PNC) Dr. Edward Mahama, and the Convention People’s Party (CPP)’s Ivor Greenstreet answered questions on the quality of education Ghanaians receive.
The solutions put forth ranged from counselling for pupils to guide their educational choices to the introduction of critical thinking courses at the kindergarten level per Dr. Mahama’s vision.
But all the candidates conceded that the current education system was not producing employable graduates.
President Mahama, however, indicated that government has made progress in the educational system and is working to reorient the educational system by putting more emphasis on technical education at higher levels.
Constitution mandates free compulsory basic education
But Dr. Nduom asserted that the focus on technical education at higher levels of education would be a non-starter as children not going to school at the basic level.
He maintained that the constitution mandates that every child has free compulsory basic education and “you cannot talk about technical education when the children are not in school.”
“It is all fine and good for us to talk about university education, high school education but we have a fundamental problem, our children are not going to school and we are not making them go to school,” Dr. Nduom stated.
“If we are we going to talk about technical education, we are going to talk about university education but my children are on the beach begging for fish in the streets that is the essential problem that we have.”
“The solution as I have it is that we must start from the first level and ensure that we put that compulsory aspect there and anybody who will sit here or anywhere and say we must make it a compulsory matter for our children to go to school does not have the future of our children at heart.”
“And if our children are to be school then we must have, as the PPP has it, same quality school compounds from kindergarten to the end of Senior high schools,” Dr. Nduom concluded on the issue.
‘You can’t put a gun to parents’ heads’
But President Mahama insisted that government was working to ensure children of school going age were getting education at various levels.
Under the MDGs, we have 97 percent of children of school-going age in school, three percent we are covering with the CBE programme, that is going to them in the fields and giving them education in the night,” he explained.
“You can’t put a gun to every parent’s head and say why is your child not in school… The basic question is: are we producing what industry and business want, and they want more technical graduates. They want more science based rather than more humanities.”
“Some of the humanities are saturated. They don’t need them anymore and so we need to rejig and that is exactly what we are doing under these reforms that we are carrying out.”
By: Delali Adogla-Bessa/citifmonine.com/Ghana