The right to education is not just the right to access education but also the right to receive good quality education. Education must be available and accessible, but also acceptable and adaptable.
Most Ghanaians strongly believe free education, which is one of the social intervention programme of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), is the gateway to right to education, but the concerns of other people is its quality education.
According to Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948): ‘Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.’
Based on the international legal framework, students must receive quality education that enables their personalities, talents and abilities to be harnessed and enable them to live a full and satisfying life within society.
Change Agent Media visit to some rural areas such as Sefwi Aprutu, Sefwi Yawkrom and its environs in the Akontombra Constituency in the Western Region, the team had a better understanding of the need to provide quality education at all levels.
How can government ensure quality education when students and pupils do not have requisite learning materials and other logistics to learn with?
Some schools in rural areas do not have trained teachers, because they are reluctant to go there. Some residents who have some level of education, therefore, take the responsibility of teachers and teach the students voluntarily.
Speaking to some of the Students and pupils who were finding it difficult to express themselves in English, they called on government to supply them the necessary learning material to enhance the rural education.
According to a student by name Lawrencia Sarpong, some students carry tables and chairs to school because, there are inadequate furniture in their schools.
Pointing out that, these are all barriers to quality education which must be cleared.
She bemoaned that, governments always preach about quality education, but all efforts to provide the quality education enjoyed by those in urban areas to these rural areas have not yielded much.
Is this equity or equality? The worry of the team is that these students write the same examination during the Basic Examination Certificate Examination (BECE) and West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), meanwhile those in the rural areas are unable to complete their syllabus.
According to international law, everyone has the right to receive education of good quality.
States have ‘to ensure that the standards of education are equivalent in all public educational institutions of the same level, and that the conditions relating to the quality of the education provided are also equivalent’ (Article 4(b), UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education, 1960).
Additionally, states are obliged to adopt minimum educational standards to ensure that all schools, public and private, offer the same quality education (Article 13, ICESCR, 1966; Article 29(2), CRC, 1989; Article 2, UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education, 1960).
Incentives for Teachers
Speaking to one of the teachers in the community called Mrs Belinda Nyarko who expressed her grievances, quizzed “How do we expect students who do not complete their syllabus to pass and further their education?”
Mrs Nyarko said, It has always been the problem of the day, because eventually students do not pass their examination, and are, therefore, not encouraged to further their education.
This makes them resort to whatever other means they find to make a living, including illegal means, which retard the development as a country. However, some parents called on government to come to their aid so they could get more scholars in the rural areas.
She believe that, when they get more resourced people in the rural areas, they could also develop their communities and would not wait for government to do so for them.
Some parents in the communities called on Government to rise beyond promises and act. “We must rise beyond politics and focus on a common goal, and provide necessary materials to enhance quality education,” Mrs Nyarko noted.
She indicated that, there should be incentives and attractive packages to those who are willing to teach in rural areas.
Also, they need more trained teachers and not just pupil teachers.
Education is the only key to development; therefore, stakeholders should come together and promote quality education, not just access to school.
Editor: Miss Emmanuella Oduro Appiah