What is wrong with our education system? - Accra residents ask flagbearers
It appears that every new administration comes up with a new system that sets aside what was in place, with the consequences being dire, many of the residents have said.
The above words sum up what several residents in the Greater Accra region feel about the country’s education system, which many believe would eventually collapse if politicians do not come out with an effective strategy to deal with its 'falling standards.'
Hundreds of the residents, mainly traders, artisans, labourers among others expressed these sentiments during the Institute of Economic Affairs #IWantToKnow Campaign.
The #IWantToKnow Campaign is aimed at getting questions from the average Ghanaian on the street on what they would want to ask the presidential candidates if they had the chance to meet them.
The campaign, which was earlier rolled out in the Ashanti regional capital, Kumasi last week, proceeded to the Greater Accra region on Friday, September 16, where the team was at the main Makola market to solicit from the people what they would want to ask their various presidential candidates.
The campaign team made stopovers at strategic trading centres at Accra, where T-shirts and other paraphernalia were distributed to the teeming crowd who were excited to receive the team.
Several of them who interacted with the team said they would want to know what plans the flag bearers have, particularly, in the country’s education sector ahead of the elections.
A businessman at the Osu Oxford street in Accra said: “The fees are too much. The last time I went with my daughter to follow up on her admission, the school fees were just too much. Government must tell us how they intend to solve the problem because the education of our children cannot be overlooked. It’s sad.”
A security man at one of the fast food joints on the same busy street in Accra shared similar sentiments.
“I want to know the plans the flag bearers have for our kids who are going to school. They promised us free education, but we are yet to see it,” he said.
At the Accra Polytechnic School, some of the students who interacted with the team on the basis of anonymity said they have lost all hope in the various presidential candidates as their previous promises to assist students are yet to be fulfilled.
As one angry student puts it: “Sister, I have nothing to ask them [flagbearers] as they have nothing for us. By now they are chairing big big meetings and thinking of how to win the elections. That is their main concern. As for me, I will continue to fend for myself.”
A parent who had come to the school to assist her ward in the registration process said: “We don’t see what they [flag bearers] have for our children’s education.”
At the Makola market in Accra, several traders who were happy to meet the team expressed similar sentiments.
“Our children’s education is worrying us. The fees are too much. So they [flag bearers] should tell us how they can help us. That is all I want to know,” a woman selling tomatoes said in her local dialect.
For Sister Mary, who is a labourer at one of the courts in Accra, apart from the challenges in the education sector, the amount of money she spends on fertilizer for farming is too much. “...So they [flag bearers] should tell us how they intend to increase our salaries so we can afford the fertilizer,” she said.
Ahead of the December polls, several of the presidential candidates have already begun making campaign promises, particularly in the education sector, with many becoming the subject of controversy.
The governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) has promised to implement what it calls a progressive free tertiary education policy, with many arguing that it is a replica of the NPP’s much hyped free SHS policy in the 2012 elections.
But residents believe these will mean nothing if primary education, which happens to be the basis, is not given the necessary attention in terms of adequate resources.
President John Mahama recently mounted a spirited defence for the current three-year duration of Senior High school education following calls by some stakeholders for a return to the four-year Senior High School system.
His comments follow the release of the 2016 WASSCE results, which many have described as poor.
In this year’s release of BECE results, the entire results of 321 schools have so far been withheld following some examination malpractices.
But this has not gone down well with many parents who spoke to the team, as they argue that the issue of exam malpractice should be blamed on the current system in place and not their children.
As one parent put it: “Where were the invigilators when the children were entering the exam hall with foreign material. Did they not see them? No, this is unfair.”
Meanwhile, several of the residents seem to have concerns about the high rate of utility bills which they argue is having a toll on their businesses.
“Ever since the NPP introduced these prepaid meters, we have not had our peace of mind. The bill is too much; we can’t afford. So I want to know what plans the flag bearers have to help us,” a dealer in second-hand clothing asked in the Ga local dialect.
For Sister Maggie who sells vegetables at the Makola market in front of a high-rise building under construction, apart from the high utility bills, the AMA taskforce has made life unbearable for her and her other colleague market women.
“The AMA is always harassing us, saying we have to move our wares from where we are currently situated because of this new building. But we have nowhere else to go. This is the job we use to feed our children, as our men have become irresponsible. So we want to know how the politicians are willing to help us,” she said.
The Executive Director of the IEA, Jean Mensa subsequently expressed satisfaction with how the #IWantToKnow Campaign has been rolled out so far in Accra and Kumasi.
She believes the campaign “will enable the electorate to demand accountability of the candidates even before one of them is elected president. Additionally, this approach will ensure that the real concerns of the citizens are addressed by candidates.”
The #IWantToKnow Campaign is expected to make its next stop at Ho in the Volta region.
Pulse Ghana will be bringing you a broadcast of the event in Ho and subsequent ones.
Five people who ask the most compelling questions will have the chance to be in the audience during the main debate which will be held in Accra.
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