President John Dramani Mahama on Thursday said there has been a significant improvement in the educational sector during his tenure of office.
President Mahama noted that at the start of his term in office and for many years prior to that there was national dissatisfaction at the declining standards of education at the basic and secondary levels.
“Lack of access to both basic and secondary education meant that many children were being left behind.
“A shortage of professionally trained teachers, teacher absenteeism, shortage of core textbooks- resulting in a situation in which four children shared one textbook- dilapidated schools, lack of science laboratories and workshops, among others, manifested in declining results at the Basic Education Certificate Examinations (BECE) and West African Secondary School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE).”
President Mahama said in excess of 2,000 dilapidated schools popularly referred to as “schools under trees” have been replaced.
He said teachers were more available and more evenly distributed than in the past. Teacher absenteeism was down from 27 per cent to below nine per cent, which led to more engagement hours from teachers to students.
He said the construction of the 47 newly built Community Day Senior High Schools meant more students were able to continue their education beyond the basic level instead of dropping out.
“These investments we have made are yielding results and reflecting in the performance of our children.
“Performance at both BECE and the WASSCE Examinations have seen remarkable improvement. The very last batch of BECE students recorded the highest number of students obtaining a raw score of above 500 marks in the history of the examination.
“We are recording improved performance in many public schools in the WASSCE across the country.
“During the Best Schools Awards Ceremonies, many rural and public schools are outperforming some of the better known urban and private schools. Ghana has consistently, over the last three years, taken the three top spots in the WASCCE”, he said
President Mahama said the progressively free secondary education programme, had absorbed the major fees paid by day students, and this was extended to cover 140,000 boarding students.
“At the tertiary education level, the construction of additional public universities in the Brong Ahafo and Volta Regions have improved access to university education.
“The sod cutting for start of work on the University of Environment and Sustainable Development in the Eastern Region, the conversion of the polytechnics into technical universities, the creation of three autonomous universities out of the University for Development Studies are all creating additional opportunities for students to pursue courses at the tertiary level,” he added.
The President’s address marks the end of the 6th Parliament of the Fourth Republic.
His appearance before the House was in fulfilment of a constitutional requirement. Article 67 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, which states: “The President shall, at the beginning of each session of Parliament and before dissolution of Parliament, deliver a message on the State of the Nation.”
The address was before the plenary of 275 legislators, who were joined in the House by observers including representatives of political parties, members of the Council of State, the Trades Union Congress, the Diplomatic Corps, and traditional rulers, representatives of the religious bodies and a cross section of Ghanaians, in the public gallery.
President Mahama gave an account of the power crisis and the performance of the various sectors of the economy.