Education Minister Dr Yaw Osei Adutuwum says he accepts responsibility for the delay in the distribution of textbooks in basic schools across the country.
According to him, his outfit decided to employ a different approach in the writing and procurement of textbooks, leading to unfortunate delays.
Addressing the matter on the AM Show on Thursday, he said he appreciates the difficulties the situation has caused for both teachers and pupils.
The sector Minister however assured that the Ministry is working around the clock to address the challenge, in order to facilitate effective teaching and learning in basic schools following the adoption of a new curriculum.
“We as a country, unlike other countries decided that we’ll allow the private sector to develop the textbooks.
“In the old system when the Ministry had writers and they were writing, it took such a shorter period of time to get textbooks in all classrooms.
“[That was a better system] in terms of speed, but we have a philosophical understanding that was developed over the years. That the private sector should be allowed to develop in the textbooks industry.
“That is not to say that things could not have been done faster, so I’ll concede”, the Minister explained.
He continued, “In the future, this has taught us some useful lessons that you really have to fast track a lot of things to make sure even if it’s private sector development, you can shorten the procurement and other processes so it doesn’t drag on forever. So I’ll concede”.
Over the last few years, the absence of textbooks in basic schools has been a thorny issue, in the wake of government’s decision to modify the curriculum.
The process, which began around 2019, was aimed at restructuring Ghana’s education to meet the needs of contemporary times.
The reforms were also geared at ensuring that students receive holistic training in both their mental faculties as well as their moral grooming.
A statement by the Ministry in the wake of the proposed changes said the reforms had been designed to “respond to a national priority of shifting the structure and content of the education system from merely passing examinations to building character, nurturing values, and raising literate, confident, and engaged citizens who can think critically”.
Part of the reforms included a reclassification of kindergarten, primary, junior high schools and senior high schools as ‘basic schools’.
It also included a proposal to scrap the traditional Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) in junior high schools with other methods of assessment amongst others.
But soon after it was rolled out, actors in the industry, including some aggrieved parents started questioning the preparedness of government to implement the new proposals.
This was due to the lack of human resources and accompanying infrastructure to support the new programmes. The lack of textbooks was one of the issues which were raised in that regard.
But the Minister in his interview with JoyNews’ Bernice Abu-Baidoo Lansah indicated that the Ministry is aware of all the concerns and is working around the clock to better the situation.
Meanwhile, some people have called for the complete abolishment of the new reforms by the Minister.
According to the critics, government must focus more on dealing with landmark challenges in the education sector, such as schools under trees and dilapidated school buildings.
The critics say instead of overhauling the existing framework, government must rather address the lack of proper infrastructure, especially in rural communities, as well as the absence of teachers to engage the rural learners.
They say the reforms in the curriculum are not the major issue bothering the sector and therefore it must not be a priority.
Others have however rallied behind the new reforms.
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