The National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) has called on the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) to end their strike.

 

The University Teachers suspended their services last week over demands for government to pay their Book and Research Allowance.

Speaking to Citi News, the Presidents of NUGS, Mr.  Prosper Dzitse pleaded with lecturers to return to the classrooms because it will affect the re-opening of universities.

“Now Legon is re- opening and the fact is that most of these students are going to be idle if the lecturers are not back to the classroom because they [students] are there to be taught. This also means that resources will be wasted because if the lecturers come back and they agree that the academic calendar should be extended, it will result in additional investments that have to be made by the students because some of these expenses have not been planned for,” he said.

He added “again, we should not forget that when this happens students are forced to to learn under intense pressure which is not a good way to offer education. . At the end of the day this will greatly affect the system.”

Meanwhile, the NUGS President added that he has spoke to the Deputy Minister of education in-charge of Tertiary Education, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa  who assured them of government’s commitment to end the strik.

 “I have spoken the Deputy Minister and he has assured me that the Finance Ministry is working on getting them their money so they can come back to the lecture rooms.”

The Most Reverend Francis Anani Kofi Lodonu, the Catholic Bishop of Ho, has urged the Ghana Education Service (GES) to consider changing the academic calendar for colleges of education to four years.

He said the three-year period of training teachers was not making the expected impact on the educational system hence the need for a review.


Bishop Lodonu said this at the launch of the phase II of an in-service training for teachers, and a sensitisation programme for students in the Ho Diocese of the Catholic Church.

The project, aimed at helping to improve academic performance in the Diocese, is under the auspices of the Development Office of the Diocese with funding from Kindermissionswerk in Germany.

He said a review of the academic calendar, with three years on campus and a year off campus in the form of fieldwork, could better prepare teachers.


Bishop Lodonu said though teachers alone could not be blamed for the falling standard of education in the country, they played a major role and they needed to be given the requisite training for quality delivery in the classroom.

A cursory observation, he said, indicated that most teachers were only interested in making more money under the umbrella of extra classes, which was not helpful.

He asked them to learn how to “give freely and not count the cost of reward”, saying the desire and pride of teachers should be the upliftment of their students.


Mr Jacob Kor, the Director General of the Ghana Education Service, said teachers ought to know that their preoccupation on earth was to know and love God and the children trusted in their care.

He called for a relook at the language policy in the country’s educational system, arguing that, instructing kindergarten children and lower primary pupils in the English Language was affecting quality delivery of education and this amounted to downplaying the local languages.

The in-service training would benefit a total of 315 teachers with practical and efficient skills in teaching Mathematics, Science, English Language, Social Studies, Religious and Moral Studies and Information Communication Technology (ICT) in primary and Junior High Schools in the Diocese.

More than 4,000 students, mainly girls, would be taken through effective ways of learning those subjects with a three-year scholarship package for 210 Junior High School and Senior High School students.

A total of 105 teachers and over 200 students have benefited from the first phase.

Teachers At Wurapong M/A Junior High School in the Yilo Krobo district of the Eastern Region have fled the community due to incessant attacks on them by armed robbers.

The situation is affecting academic work in the school since the teachers took the decision last week. Four teachers, including the headmaster of the school, have been robbed once or had their rooms ransacked by unknown persons in the community.

This has compelled some of the teachers and the headmaster of the school to vacate the community for safety reasons.

“Last week for instance, I attended school twice, just like my other colleagues, we go to school as and when we get the means,” headmaster of the school, Frank Narh Abublah revealed in an interview with the Daily Heritage.

The latest attack happened last week when the headmaster of the school, Frank Narh Abublah, escaped attack by some suspected armed robbers.

According to the headmaster, the criminals broke into his room at night and ransacked the room, took away one out of two laptops and GHC700.00. He said, fortunately for him, he was out of town on that fateful day.

The headmaster further explained that the assistant headmistress and two other teachers have also suffered similar attacks in which valuable items were stolen.

He said, this has put fear in the teachers in the community, leading to some of them deserting their posts to avert any misfortune.

He added that, four out of five teachers have been compelled to live with their families in Koforidua, Nkurakan and Agogo and only attend school when they have the transportation means.

The headmaster stated that the robbery cases have been reported to the police, but no arrests have been made yet.

He said the school's management committee has been informed about their decision not to live in the community again until the perpetrators are brought to book.

The assembly member for the area, Hon. Opeley assured that the community is making frantic efforts to arrest the perpetrators.

According to him, announcements have been made throughout the village through the 'gong gong beater' to the effect that residents in the community must help apprehend the suspects.

The authorities of the Bolgatanga Technical Institute (BOTECH) in the Upper East Region have closed down the school indefinitely.

This followed student riots last Saturday after a first year student, Castro Ayine, fell from a three-storey dormitory block and fractured his leg in the process.

The victim is currently receiving treatment at the Tamale Teaching Hospital. 

Cause

The students reportedly raised an alarm that there was a fire outbreak in one of the boys dormitories around midnight last Friday,  and in the ensuing stampede, the victim was pushed to the ground; the dormitory has no  rail to prevent accidental falls.

Some of the students blamed the incident on the deplorable condition of the dormitory building and staged a protest to demand an immediate renovation of the facility.

Protest

The students also embarked on a hunger strike and rejected their breakfast, lunch and supper.

Not even pleas from the Bolgatanga Municipal Director of Education could convince the students to calm down and eat.

"The structure is without a rail to prevent accidental falls. There are cracks in the floors of some of the old structures in the school and that is why we are angry," one of the students said. They also reportedly blocked the school’s main road to prevent their mates from taking part in the inter-schools sports competition for the Bolgatanga Zone at the Bolgatanga Senior High School (BIGBOSS).

As the situation was getting out of hand, the authorities had to call in the police to quell the rioting.

Principal's reaction

The Principal of BOTECH, Mr Thomas Amare, who took over the school about six months ago,  said: "It is true that some of the facilities at the school are deteriorating and have never seen any renovation for years."

He said the authorities had since organised and bought new iron rods and pipes “and as we speak now, work is ongoing to fix the problem."

Mr Amare commended the students for not damaging any property in the school.

He said the decision as to when the school would be reopened depended on the Ghana Education Service (GES).

The principal indicated that the situational report would be forwarded to the GES on Monday.

Ghana’s Education Ministry believes until the methodology used in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) recent school rankings is outlined, it will be erroneous to conclude that Ghana’s education system is poor.

According to a press statement signed by the Education Minister Prof. Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang, the media must be circumspect with their reportage because the full report is not out yet.

Moreover, she reminded the public, the full report surveyed 195 countries and not 76 as being reported in the media.

“Ghana’s educational system remains robust and we are encouraged by the gains we are making and also by the popular verdict by many independent global assessors.

“This is the country that has successively won the three top awards in the West African Secondary School Certificate Examinations for the last five years. Ghana’s educational system cannot be a failed one neither can it possibly be the worst in the world and it is at least gratifying that the OECD report does not say so,” Prof Opoku-Agyemang stated.

Below is her press statement

The Ministry of Education has taken note of media publications regarding a school ranking on Mathematics and Science at age 15 by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) with specific reference to Ghana’s position among 76 countries in the world.

As we wait for the full report to be formally presented at the World Education Forum in South Korea next week to which our Minister of Education Prof. Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang has been invited, it is important to be circumspect at this stage and to acknowledge that we do not at this point have details on the methodology and the period covered in this first ever OECD report on school rankings.

We have also noted from the press highlights of the research that only 76 countries out of over` 195 countries in the world were considered for this research. It therefore cannot be said that Ghana’s educational system is the worst globally as has been circulated by sections of the Ghanaian media.

Additionally, Ghana is one of only five African countries that feature in this ranking. It will be interesting to explore how these five African countries thus Ghana, South Africa, Botswana, Morocco and Tunisia made it to these rankings. Are we perhaps being told that these are the best performing nations in Africa? What other interpretations exist to justify the inclusion or selection of these African nations and indeed of the entire 76 nation sample frame?

It is worth pointing out that apart from this OECD report, all other recently published international reports have been highly complementary of Ghana’s efforts at improving the quality of Education. For example, the independent United Kingdom think tank, the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) praised the tangible gains Ghana has made in access and quality in its report captioned “Ghana, the Rising Star: Progress in Political Voice, Health and Education” published in March, 2015. The report notes that Ghana ranks among the highest performing countries in human development in sub-Saharan Africa, especially in terms of health and education.

Similarly, the UNESCO Education For All Global Monitoring Report under access reports that Ghana’s progress between 2000 and 2012 surpasses the averages of sub-Saharan Africa, developing countries and developed countries. Ghana’s KG Enrolment Ratio increased by 74 percentage points compared with the sub-Saharan average of 9%, developing countries average of 22% and developed countries average of 13%.

On the goal of ensuring that all children have access to and complete primary education, the performance trends indicate that Ghana is one of the best performing countries in the world.

The 2014 Global Information Technology Report of the World Economic Forum also highlighted signifiant successes and ranked Ghana 46th out of 148 countries in the world in terms of quality of our education system while in the area of Mathematics and Science, Ghana was ranked 2nd in Africa and 62nd in the world.

Meanwhile, it is important to stress that the Government of President John Dramani Mahama has long prioritized the study of Maths and Science not only to improve scores but to make it more attractive and exciting to study whiles targeting improved transition rates. This is the reason Government has been embarking on a number of bold interventions over the last three years including engaging the services of globally renowned mathematicians Prof. Francis Allotey and Prof. Sitsope Anku. Under this intervention, thousands of maths and science teachers are being retrained to meet Government’s objective.

This Government in 2014 met its obligation for the first time in decades when it provided 12 million core English, Maths and Science text books to meet the required textbook-pupil ratio. Over 50,000 computers over the last two years have also been distributed. The Science Resource Centre Programme is being expanded to cover all public Senior High Schools (SHSs) in the country. In 2014, 100 SHSs across the country benefited from this project to improve on the teaching and learning of Science.

Under the 156 million dollars World Bank supported Secondary Education Improvement Project (SEIP) the Ministry is supporting quality improvement in 125 beneficiary SHSs with emphasis on the teaching and learning of Mathematics and Science.

Ghana’s educational system remains robust and we are encouraged by the gains we are making and also by the popular verdict by many independent global assessors. This is the country that has successively won the three top awards in the West African Secondary School Certificate Examinations for the last five years. Ghana’s educational system cannot be a failed one neither can it possibly be the worst in the world and it is at least gratifying that the OECD report does not say so.

Nonetheless, the Ministry of Education is determined to continue to improve the standard of education and put in place measures to ensure quality teaching and learning at all levels of the educational system in our dear country.

Signed, Prof. Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang

Adisadel College in Cape Coast is spending Ghc15,000 to combat bed bugs that have infested the school.

The insects were said to have attacked the school about two weeks ago infesting classrooms, dormitories, dining halls, assembly halls and library.

The headmaster of the school, Mr William Kusi-Yeboah said the situation would certainly have a toll on the schools finances.

Adisadel College is not alone. Bed bugs have infested almost all boarding schools in the Cape Coast metropolis.

Some headmasters are trying hard to eradicate the pests before school re-opens later this month.

Schools in the metropolis have a perennial infestation but according to some students the situation is worse this year.

The student body is on vacation but the form three students are still on campus writing their West African School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).

Adisadel College, has contracted Zoomlion to embark on a three day fumigation exercise to clear the insects.

The fumigation exercise began on Friday and would run through the weekend.

When Graphiconline visited the school on Friday all mattresses had been brought out of the dormitories and fumigated.

Personnel of Zoomlion were also seen mixing chemicals and spraying the facilities.

Zoomlion

There were nine workers and two supervisors undertaking the exercise.

According to the Head of Environment and Sanitation at the Central Regional office of the Zoomlion, Mr Gideon Sogbey said the insects were the tropical type and are very “stubborn” to deal with.

He said they breed very fast saying in a day one bed bug can lay about 300 eggs which hatch very quickly.

Mr Sogbey described it as a general infestation of Adisadel College.

He said Zoomlion had adopted a special oil based chemical to combat the infestation because the insects has developed resistance to some of the usual chemicals used to combat them.

He explained that the infestation was partly due to the weather conditions and bad hygienic practices.

Mr Sogbey indicated that Zoomlion has information that most second cycle boarding schools in the metropolis has the infestation.

However he noted that so far it was Mfantsipim School that had contacted Zoomlion about the problem saying discussions were ongoing for fumigation there too. 

The fumigation he said was expected to last the school six months after which they would have to fumigate again.

Headmaster
Mr Kusi-Yeboah said the situation was a bit worrying this year.
He said though the school was fumigated termly, the school wanted to deal with the infestation more permanently.
This year, he said the school is spending Ghc15,000 on the fumigation alone.
He said termly, the school spent about 10,000 fumigating the school every term.
He suggested for government to liaise with Zoomlion to fumigate the schools termly saying “the health of the students is paramount”.
Metal Beds
He called for steel bed rather than wooden beds saying the wooden beds complicate the problem.
He said it was worrying that government was still supplying metal beds with wooden pallets.
He said the school had taken the initiative to phase out all wooden beds from the school.
Mr Kusi-Yeboah described the problem as a “national crisis” facing all schools.

 

The Ghanaian media have been fighting forever to get a Freedom of Information Bill passed. And to this day even the so-called fourth estate has not been able to get this dear wish of theirs come to pass.

In advanced democracies though, Freedom of Information is a matter of course law. However, a German student has thought of an ingenious, never before envisioned possible use for the act.

 

Every student hopes to get exam questions beforehand; Simon Schrader is actually doing something about it. The 17 year old student wrote to the education ministry for “the task of the centrally-made Abitur examinations in the senior classes of high school in the current school year”

His request invoked the state’s Freedom of Information Law, giving the Ministry them the legally mandated one month deadline to respond to his request. He told the Guardian he doesn’t expect the request to be granted.

“I did think beforehand that they probably wouldn’t send me the exams. I’m already revising, and I’m not relying on them to get back to me.

I thought it was worth a try; I just wanted to see what they would say”

So far there’s been no response, although the Ministry has acknowledged receipt, and said that the request is being processed. The one month deadline ends on 21 April.

Successful or not, that’s a little genius idea.

The Headmaster of Fijai Senior High School near Sekondi, Joe Ocloo Nyamadi, has revealed that the school was hit by bed bug infestation in the past year.

According to him, the incident took the management of the school by surprise and that within a short space of time; every single dormitory was plagued with bed bugs.

“Though difficult and expensive to control, I am happy to report that pest management professionals were consulted, a management plan was put in place and now the situation is almost back to normal,” he added.

The headmaster disclosed this at the 63rd Founders and Awards Day of the school at Sekondi.

He pointed out that the school is in dire need of certain facilities to enhance teaching and learning.


Mr Ocloo Nyamadi mentioned that the school needs a boundary wall to protect its students, staff and lands as well suitable sick bay and dispensary.

He also mentioned additional staff accommodation on campus and a duty post bungalow for the headmaster.

“The school also needs a well -equipped library, additional classrooms and a modern canteen for day students,” he added.

The headmaster revealed that 475 students comprising 167 boys and 308 girls were presented for the May/June West African Senior Secondary School Examination (WASSCE).

He indicated that out of the number, 472 had passes in all subjects and added that two girls, both from the Science department emerged the overall best students obtaining 7As and a B.


Mr Ocloo Nyamadi also mentioned some development projects currently going on in the school as dormitory block for boys to take care of the teeming number of day students.

He also mentioned the rehabilitation of the school’s administration block and the sinking of two mechanical boreholes to curtail the periodic water shortage among others.

Dr Louis Atsiatorney, an educationist, disclosed that to provide quality education, certain factors should be well managed.

He mentioned the environment which included infrastructure, class size, guidance and counselling and teaching methods.

Dr Atsiatorney stressed that school managers and teachers should ensure that the vision and mission of the school are achieved to the satisfaction of those who benefited from their activities.

THE enthusiasm often exhibited by people who strive to access Basic School Education, irrespective of their old age, has highly been commended by many but a growing phenomenon which Weekend Finder has gathered is that some of these ‘over-aged pupils’ are preying on their mates 

Weekend Finder has gathered that these ‘over-aged pupils’ especially the ones in the rural areas of the country have turned the girls in the primary schools into sex mates and impregnating them in droves.


The situation, Weekend Finder gathered, is fast becoming a major cause of the high incidence of teenage pregnancies recorded in the basic schools.

At Mangotsonya Basic School in the Ningo Prampram District, a total of five girls got pregnant and dropped out of school last academic year.

Of this number, four of the pregnancies were recorded at the primary level, while one involved a Junior High School girl. 

In one of the incidents, a primary two pupil was responsible for the pregnancy of his ‘senior’ who was in primary five.

In another incident, a primary five pupil was responsible for the pregnancy of a primary six girl.

Mrs Mavis Akuorkor Adjei, a teacher who doubles as the Guidance and Counseling Director at the school bemoaned the phenomenon, stating that although she constantly engages the pupils in sex education, the situation still persist.

She blamed the situation on parents’ lack of interest in the welfare of their children.


She also noted that most of the children live with their grandparents who do not enforce strict control over them.

She told Weekend Finder that she often uses a public address system in the town to educate the children about their reproductive health as a means of controlling the situation. 

The situation was no different, when Weekend Finder visited the Natriku R/C Primary, in the Shai Osudoku District of the Greater Accra Region. 

In this school, a 13-year-old primary four girl had been put in a family way by a 20-year-old primary six pupil.
The girl has since dropped out of school.


The paper also gathered that lack of parental control and neglect is a major cause of the high levels of teenage pregnancies in the school leading to most girls dropping out of school.

Headmistress of the school, Mrs Ann Ankutse expressed concern about the high incidents of girls especially dropping out of school.

She blamed the situation on irresponsible parenting. 

Some teachers who spoke with the paper on the issue said some parents were more interested in spending lavishly on funerals than on their children’s education.

The first-ever private Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) took off at 11 examination centres throughout the country yesterday.
 
An estimated 1,181 candidates are expected to write the examination, which ends on Friday, February 20, 2015.

One thousand and fifty-seven candidates were expected to write the English Language paper yesterday, while 1,136 candidates are expected to write the Mathematics paper tomorrow.

Asare Menako Hall
When the Daily Graphic visited the Asare Menako Conference Hall in the Greater Accra Region at 10 a.m. yesterday, it learnt that 134 out of the 148 candidates who were expected to write the English paper there had turned up. 


The hall, which is the venue for candidates writing the  private BECE in the Greater Accra Region, had one supervisor and five invigilators.

The Supervisor at the centre, Mr Timothy Quaye, who briefed the paper, said the examination had taken off smoothly, adding that the only problem encountered was that a number of the candidates turned up without their index numbers “and we had to help them get their numbers”.

He said one of the candidates had a hearing challenge and, according to the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) rules and regulations, he was entitled to one and a half times the time allotted to the other candidates.


Until now, candidates wishing to resit the BECE were required to go back to their former schools to join their juniors to write the examination.

Last year, the Ministry of Education gave the go-ahead for the conduct of the private resit examination.

Good luck
While wishing the candidates good luck, the Minister of Education, Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang, assuaged their fears that the examination would be too difficult for them.

She expressed optimism that they would make good grades to enable them to progress on the educational ladder.

The minister said the candidates were making history as the first group to write the private BECE, noting that until now, the candidates were required to go back to their former schools to join their juniors to write the examination.

Excitement
After the English paper, many of the candidates looked excited and said it was “manageable”.

Sharing his excitement with the Daily Graphic, 21-year-old Adih Korku Worlanyo, who said he was writing the examination for the first time, said he was hopeful of performing well to enable him to enter senior high school and ultimately the university to study Electrical Engineering.

Master Gbadegbe Mawusi Freeman, 22 said he was confident he would perform well to enable him to pursue his dream of becoming an engineer in future.

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