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Source: Starrfmonline.com

The 2012 presidential candidate of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP) Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom has called on the government to make education “compulsory” in a bid to make Ghana “great and strong.”

“An uneducated people tend to be poor and are easily deceived by politicians, social and religious leaders and employers,” Nduom said in a statement via Facebook.

“One sure path to prosperity is to make education a right and to make government responsible for ensuring that all citizens get a minimum level of formal education. Compulsory education is the answer and is necessary for Ghana to become a great and strong nation.”

The former minister of the defunct Public Sector Reforms said it is against this background that the PPP sued the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) government to implement the “free, compulsory basic education provision in the 1992 Constitution.”

Below is the full statement:

An uneducated people tend to be poor and are easily deceived by politicians, social and religious leaders and employers. One sure path to prosperity is to make education a right and to make government responsible for ensuring that all citizens get a minimum level of formal education. Compulsory education is the answer and is necessary for Ghana to become a great and strong nation.

I am calling on all serious leaders – political, social, religious, business, etc. to become part of this campaign to implement compulsory education in Ghana.

I am Elmina born and bred. Without education, I would not be where I am and my life experience would have been poorer than what it has been. In this regard, I consider that perhaps one of the most important items in the 1992 Constitution can be found in Chapter Six Directive Principles of State Policy – 38:

“(1) The State shall provide educational facilities at all levels and in all the Regions of Ghana, and shall, to the greatest extent feasible, make those facilities available to all citizens.

(2) The Government shall, within two years after Parliament first meets after the coming into force of this Constitution, draw up a programme for implementation within the following ten years, for the provision of free, compulsory and universal basic education.

(3) The State shall, subject to the availability of resources provide –

(a) equal and balanced access to secondary and other appropriate pre-university education, equal access to university or equivalent education, with emphasis on science and technology;

(b) a free adult literacy programme, and a free vocational training, rehabilitation and resettlement of disabled persons; and

(c) life-long education.”

Research shows that education in some form is compulsory to all people in most countries, but different countries vary in how many years or grades of education they require. I had the benefit of one year’s education in rural USA, Cokato, Minnesota and studied with children from mostly farming and related industry backgrounds. Not all of them were bright or smart students. But they were in school and had the benefit of choice to study to read, write, calculate, foreign languages and skills such as carpentry and metal works.

They became better prepared for life and become good citizens than my friends back home in Elmina who dropped out of primary or middle school. Ghana competes in a global market where literacy in many areas is a key tool.

Search in history including Wikipedia shows there has always been a purpose to the call for compulsory education. During the Reformation in 1524, Martin Luther advocated compulsory schooling so that all parishioners would be able to read the Bible themselves, and Palatinate-Zweibrücken passed accordant legislation in 1592, followed by Strasbourg—then a free city of the Holy Roman Empire— in 1598. Prussia implemented a modern compulsory system in 1763 which was widely recognised and copied.

It was introduced by decree of Frederick the Great in 1763-5 and was later expanded in the 19th century. This provided a working model for other states to copy; the clearest example of direct copying is probably Japan in the period of the Meiji Restoration. Prussia introduced this model of education so as to produce more obedient soldiers and serfs. We in Ghana need compulsory education to speed up our development and create a prosperous people.

In the modern era, compulsory school attendance based on the Prussian model gradually spread to other countries, reaching the American Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1852, and spreading to other states until, in 1918, Mississippi was the last state to enact a compulsory attendance law.

Massachusetts had originally enacted the first compulsory education law in the American colonies in 1647. In 1852, the Massachusetts General Court passed a law requiring every town to create and operate a grammar school. Fines were imposed on parents who did not send their children to school and the government took the power to take children away from their parents and apprentice them to others if government officials decided that the parents were “unfit to have the children educated properly”.

One of the last areas in Europe to adopt a compulsory system was England and Wales, where the Elementary Education Act of 1870 paved the way by establishing school boards to set up schools in any places that did not have adequate provision. Attendance was made compulsory until age 10 in 1880. The Education Act of 1996 made it an obligation on parents to require children to have a full-time education from the age of five to the age of sixteen.

In India the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act in August 2009, made education free and compulsory for children between 6 and 14. In Jamaica, parents could faces charges of Child Neglect, if they prevent their children from going to school without valid reasons. In Taiwan there is now 12-year compulsory education starting from 2014.

Due to population growth and the proliferation of compulsory education, UNESCO calculated in 2006 that over the subsequent 30 years more people would receive formal education than in all prior human history. Given this fact, we in Ghana cannot afford to be left behind in this leap forward in educating citizens the world over.

I am calling on all serious leaders – political, social, religious, business, etc. to become part of this campaign to implement compulsory education in Ghana. It is instructive to note that one political party in Ghana, the Progressive People’s Party (PPP) has taken government to the Supreme Court to obtain judgment to force the administration to implement the free, compulsory basic education provision in our Constitution.

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