Ghana will not achieve universal basic education by year 2015 as originally targeted, says a Senior Policy Analyst at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Prof Kwame Acheampong.
According to him, Ghana, together with over 100 countries across the world, aimed to achieve basic education for all children by the end of 2015 as part of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Key components of the goals, Prof Acheampong explained, included ensuring that every child has access to early childhood care and education, every child has universal primary education, youth and adults can contribute to society, adult illiteracy will be reduced by half, there are equal numbers of boys and girls in school and the quality of education is improved.
Commenting on a global report issued by UNESCO on the progress nations have made so far in achieving these goals, Prof Acheampong – who spoke on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show Tuesday – stated that although Ghana had made significant progress especially in the areas of primary enrollment and gender parity, it would not be able to achieve the target of universal basic education by 2015.
Touching on some of the areas where progress has been made, he said between 1999 and 2010, primary net enrollment increased from 61-84 per cent. In addition, the out-of-school population in Ghana was about 1.14 million in 1999 but this has been reduced to less than 500,000 as of 2010. There was also a gross enrollment ratio of 83 per cent among Junior High School students, and the aggregate for gender parity which was 0.9 in 1999 has also been achieved.
In spite this progress, Prof Acheampong said the nation was not doing so well as far as the quality of education was concerned, one reason Ghana may not attain all the goals by 2015.
“One of the worrying signs … is that it is very clear that by 2015, we will not achieve universal primary education…” he observed, saying the goal to half adult illiteracy will also not be met.
The Policy Analyst also noted that most of the advanced countries have achieved the goal but “…as far as sub-Saharan Africa, for example, is concerned, that goal will not be achieved.”
This, according to him, is due to the fact that governments over the years have not committed enough resources to ensure children have access to education.
Moreover, he said the international community has also not be able to keep its promise of supporting less endowed countries in terms of funding to achieve the goals, a situation he attributed to the recent global recession.
He stressed that governments must focus on the sixth goal – which is quality education – because “…in Ghana, we are finding that six-years of primary education is not giving children the kind of literacy or numeracy skills they need to succeed in society.”
“We need to do much more to ensure that when children get into schools, they are given the education they require to be able to reach levels that we expect,” he maintained.
Mr Tiso Dos Santos, a Senior Programmes Specialist with UNESCO, on his part, attributed the inability of governments in sub-Saharan Africa to resource the education sectors to the state of their economies which he described as not “very strong”.
He was however quick to add that “there are some encouraging signs in some countries.”
In Ghana for instance, he said: “From 1999 to this year, there has been stronger commitments by the government of Ghana in terms of allocating resources…we can now say that government is dedicating 5.6 per cent of GDP to the education sector.”