Education Minister, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh

Minister for Education Dr Mathew Opoku Prempeh says the Akufo-Addo government inherited huge debt at the Education ministry from the John Mahama administration.

In a statement to Parliament, the Minister said, “We met huge outstanding bills under the leadership of Prof. Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang as Minister of Education, on key supplies for education service delivery.”

“There was an outstanding bill of approximately ¢9 million on Capitation Grant, ¢4 million on Feeding Grant for Special Schools, ¢14 million on exercise books to basic schools, and ¢4 million on the supply of school uniforms among many others.

“Moreover, there were delays in the disbursement of capitation and feeding grants for Special Schools affecting the effective operation of the schools,” he said.

He says since 2017, government has cleared all the arrears and ensured timely release of capitation and feeding grants for Special Schools.

Dr Opoku Prempeh says the NDC government also failed to pay for the progressively free senior high school education policy the Mahama administration started implementing.

“Mr Speaker, it is also instructive to note, that under the Progressively Free SHS policy touted by the NDC when it was in government, they left arrears of ¢30,120,552.00 in respect of the 2015/16 academic year when the programme started with day students only,” he said.

“That has since been paid by the Akufo-Addo led government. Nothing at all was paid by the NDC in respect of the 120,000 boarding students to be catered for under the high-sounding Progressively Free programme in the 2016/17 academic year,” Dr. Opoku Prempeh added.

He said the NDC government has failed over the years to invest in the capitation grant for pupils at the basic school level to attend school free of charge. He says the NPP government has more than doubled the amount.

“First, Basic Schools had high incidence of fees and levies as Capitation Grant amount of ¢4.5 per child per year that we came to meet was woefully inadequate. Effective 2017/18 academic year, Capitation Grant amount was increased from ¢4.5 per student per year to ¢10.0 per student per year.

“The 122% increase in per capita Capitation Grant has contributed to removing the cost barriers to free access and provide schools with minimum amount of funds required to keep schools running,” he said.

Dr. Opoku Prempeh says when it comes to the ratio of trained teachers to pupils, the NPP government has done far better than the NDC.

“Mr. Speaker, significant numbers of teachers in our public basic schools were untrained. In 2016, the ratio of pupil to trained teacher was 1:52 at the Kindergarten and 1:43 at Primary level. Similarly, the percentage of trained teachers was 66% at the Kindergarten and 78% at the Primary level.

“To improve the quality of education, we have had to increase the supply of trained teachers to our basic schools. Within the period, the pupil to trained teacher ratio has improved to 1:37 at the Kindergarten level and 1:33 at the Primary level in 2019. The percentage of trained teachers has also improved to 88% at the Primary level,” he said.

Dr. Opoku Prempeh says learning outcomes were low across pre-tertiary levels of education during the NDC administration. “Both in 2013 and 2015 Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) and Early Grade Mathematic Assessment (EGMA) results showed that by the end of Primary 2, only 2% or less of pupils can read with fluency and comprehension, whilst majority of pupils don’t perform well in mathematics beyond the procedural level. In the National Education Assessment (NEA) conducted in 2016, only 11% of Primary 6 pupils were proficient in Mathematics.

“Mr. Speaker, it is heartwarming to note that the well thought out initiatives pursued since 2017 are beginning to yield results. In the 2018 National Education Assessment proficiency rate in Mathematics increased from 11% in 2016 to 22% in 2018.

“At the secondary level, performance in WASSCE was poor. From 2011 to 2016, approximately 75% of all Candidates failed to achieved qualification for tertiary education,” the Education Minister said.

Dr. Opoku Prempeh said “the Book & Research Allowance which was abolished by the NDC government, has been restored by this government. We have not only restored it but we have approved a 200% increase in the allowance, from the GHS500 to GHS 1,500.”