The fallen standards in Ghana’s educational system have been a deep worry for many who believe that the public schools require a new direction.
Aggressive policies and a strong commitment to reform the entire educational system in Ghana is vital to its success in the future.
Soon after a major debate about the dwindling quality of education in Ghana, a new survey carried by the National Education Assessment (NEA) in 2013 revealed that the majority of pupils in basic schools cannot read to understand English or any Ghanaian Language.
Many fee-paying schools deliver a higher quality of education than public schools and thus the Education Minister, Dr Mathew Opoku Prempeh engaged the management of the Al-Rayan International School located at East Legon, on policy strategies to improve Ghana’s quest to increase the quality of education.
Speaking in an interview, the Minister indicated that his visit to the school forms part of plans to engage the private schools on ways to change the current education curricula, increase infrastructure and improve the quality of teachers.
“One of the things we want to do is the curricula review and we hope that when we are done the new curricula will give emphasis to what is necessary for our public education as compared to private schools to improve on life-long learning.
“We have started doing some and others are undergoing change and we hope the lessons learnt here can be applied elsewhere in the public schools in delivering effective learning outcomes” he stated.
Dr Mathew Opoku Prempeh also said that the visit is aimed at getting closer to a well-functioning school.
“It is the aspiration of every public school and I hope that from what we’ve learnt here we will incorporate some in the public school system,” he stated.
Dr Mathew Opoku Prempeh indicated that there is still room for improvement in the public system of education.
An improved public education system, he said, will allow the government to achieve its agenda to providing quality and affordable education to all Ghanaians.
“We looked at the environment, we talked about the teaching, students, curriculum, teacher training and it was illuminating to see them using the International Baccalaureate (IB) and Cambridge Programmes. There is no one true way in education and you can see students doing a lot of well-integrated projects. They also go out into the community to explore and have a feel of how the things they learn translate in the community,” he noted.
The Minister was hosted by the School Management team, including, Dr Fatma Odaymat, the Director; Mr Nouhad Kalmoni, Board Member, and Mr Nazem Karroum of Samir Engineering, a member of the School Community.
The Director of Al-Rayan International School, Dr Fatma Odaymat said they were very honoured to receive the Minister of Education who demonstrated his preparedness to bring total reform in the public school system.
According to her, ARIS personalizes learning for students from 46 nationalities with different levels of English abilities.
“We have very strong English programs for such students to fill up the gaps. We also have a very strong special educational needs department for kids with both physical and developmental needs. We are an all-inclusive school so we have students from different backgrounds and needs being mainstreamed in the same classroom,” the director stressed.
Dr Fatma indicated that the Minister was interested to know more about the strategies that are used in the early stages to develop strong numeracy and literacy skills.
The Minister was interested in the Jolly Phonics Programme, she noted.
“We really recommended that programme [Jolly Phonics] and we were very happy to see that the Minister wanted to incorporate it into the public school system” she intimated.
Dr Fatma Odaymat noted Ghana also needs to provide training for teachers to build their capacity on how to use the Jolly Phonics programme and other modern teaching and learning strategies.
According to her, the school has a strong collaboration with Samsung where they do a lot of IT integration to ensure that students become independent life-long learners.
They allow students to take full responsibility for their own learning to become active participants in the teaching and learning process and also in school decision making.
“At five years old we are able to get kids to do active projects which reflect very much on everything they are learning, what they want to do and to change in the school, classroom and community,” Dr Fatma intimated.
She indicated that knowledge and education have no meaning if students are not able to utilize that knowledge for something fruitful in their lives; if it cannot be translated into their everyday life.
The school Director said they are looking forward to having a teacher training academy using their own teachers who are IB and Cambridge trained to support schools that need such kind of support.
She added that they are seeking to develop a Center for Education Research which is geared towards informing policy changes and developing strong training programs that will help students to become ready for the fast-changing world. We cannot be doing what we did 20 years ago.
“Ghana is capable of raising the standards just as we do every day because we are a Ghanaian based school with teachers from Ghana and so the question is why not? Anybody can do it because if there is a will there is a way and I can see that the Minister has the same mindset of trying to make education a life-long learning process that is more affordable, accessible and of high quality,” she adds.