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Free SHS debate missed the point – Education Minister-designate
From: Ghana/Myjoyonline.com/Dorcas Efe Mensah          Published On: January 31, 2013, 15:00 GMT
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Free SHS debate missed the point – Education Minister-designate

Professor Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang taking her oath

Professor Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang, Minister-designate of Education, says the debate over whether or not Ghana needs free SHS overlooks a crucial educational issue.

As far as she is concerned, the education debate ought to focus on what skills and values pupils take away from the educational system, that is, on what kind of citizens Ghana’s schools produce.

Prof Opoku Agyemang made these statements when she appeared before the Appointments Committee of Parliament Thursday.

She explained that it is important to assess the skills school children are learning and evaluate the impact of their education and the knowledge they obtain by looking at how they affect the children’s futures and job prospects.

Parents, she said, must be able to judge whether or not they are getting adequate returns for their investments in the education of their children and if they can afford to educate their wards further.

These concerns, she believes, are more critical to the debate than simply the question of whether schooling is free or not.

On the subject of retaining teachers in rural communities, the Education Minister-designate reasoned that in order to motivate teachers to accept postings to rural areas, certain peculiar incentives should be provided.

Promotions for such teachers could be fast tracked, she suggested, alongside providing them with accommodation and vehicles.

Schools in deprived communities should be properly designed and as a matter of priority be provided with essential facilities such as water and electricity to ensure that the teachers posted there are guaranteed a certain minimum quality of life.

Many of the school buildings serving remote communities are too cramped, she added, with low ceilings and a lack of natural light and air circulation that make the facilities uninviting to students, negatively affecting their academic performance.

Prof Opoku Agyemang suggested that all these amenities would make life easy for teachers posted to rural areas and therefore boost their confidence and improve their results.

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