Published On: Fri, Jan 15th, 2016

EXCLUSIVE: Ghana a major beneficiary of West Africa education turmoil

graduates 3ACCRA, (CAJ News) – GHANA, making the most of the turbulence in the education sector in neighbouring countries, is on course to becoming a powerhouse in the provision of education in the continent.

The country has taken advantage of the numerous challenges of accessing quality education, including frequent strikes in schools in the sub-region, especially in Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy.

It has emerged there are more than 75 000 Nigerian students currently studying in higher educational institutions in Ghana. These are paying over $1,2 billion in tuition fees alone each year.

Students from other West African countries including Senegal, Liberia, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso are also studying in Ghana.

In a bid to accommodate its own students as well as attract students from the above-mentioned countries, Ghana has been making significant investments into the provision of educational infrastructure in recent years.

In the 2016 budget, the sector has been allocated more than GHC 6,5 billion (US$1,7 billion), which is about 15 percent of the total budget.

A large chunk of the funds will be used to finance projects at tertiary education level.

The government is currently constructing a 617-bed Teaching Hospital at the University of Ghana, at a cost of US$ 217 million, to facilitate the training of medical students and nurses.

At the premier university, the government had inaugurated a $37-million Distance Education information and communications technology facility for all ten Regional Distance Education Centres.

At the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), ultra-modern central laboratories equipped with cutting edge equipment such as high capacity nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometers, mass spectrometers and analyzers have been completed.

The construction of Ultra-modern Petroleum Engineering laboratories equipped with drill simulators and other state of the art equipment are almost completed.

In addition, a new veterinary hospital designed to be the most advanced in West Africa, and a new KNUST Teaching Hospital to house the School of Dentistry, are underway.

At the University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS), Mahama recently inaugurated the new and permanent campus for the university.

The university admitted its first batch of medical students in the 2014/15 academic year in a bid to increase the number of doctors in the country.

New centres, including a School of Pharmacy, will commence in the next academic year.

At the University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR) in the Brong Ahafo Region, construction of a modern library, ICT complex, laboratory complex and new classroom blocks with offices are underway.

According to authorities of the university, a total of 129 major projects are at various stages of completion in other tertiary institutions.

These comprise libraries, administration blocks, laboratories, bungalows, hostels, lecture theatres and general landscaping.

Construction work will begin soon on the new university in the Eastern Region, which will be known as the University of Environment and Sustainable Development.

Under a $ 24-million project, Ghana is establishing three Education Centres of Excellence.

These are the West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP) at the University of Ghana and the West African Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI), which will be an African Centre of Excellence for training plant breeders, seed scientists and seed technologists.

This will also be at the University of Ghana.

Another is the Regional Centre of Excellence for Water and Environmental Sanitation, which will be at KNUST.

For Colleges of Education, reforms aimed at achieving equity and completing the tertiarisation of all 38 public colleges of education will continue.

“So far, these reforms have ensured that the colleges of education operate at full capacity thereby guaranteeing enhanced supply of trained teachers,” Government spokesperson, Felix Adongo, said.

According to a document-Green Book-which chronicles infrastructure in all sectors of the Ghanaian economy stated that general improvement in education, including the provision of infrastructure, has led to an increase in enrolment from 36,8 percent in 2013 to 46,2 percent at current levels.

Minister of Communications, Edward Omane Boamah, stated significant investments had been made at Senior High School (SHS) level.

There are currently more than 8,5 million pre-tertiary students at the basic and secondary levels.

Over the last three years, more than six-unit classroom blocks and some 190 two-storey dormitories have either been completed or are at various stages of completion.

Among these are the ongoing construction of 123 Community Day Senior High Schools across the country, to provide space for the admission of about 400 000 additional students.

Boamah said the $156 million Secondary Education Improvement Programme (SEIP) had been launched and was progressing.

Ongoing projects under this programme include financing for the construction of 23 Community Day SHS, improvement in quality and facilities in 175 existing SHS, provision of scholarships to 10 400 needy students.

Some 2 300 of these scholarships have already been awarded.

In the 2013/14 academic year, 200 science resource centres were equipped with about 3 000 items ranging from science and laboratory equipment, electronic equipment, technical support, ICT and audiovisual items.

“To achieve more progress at the SHS level, a number of major policy interventions are being implemented, Boamah said.

This perhaps explains why Ghana has among the best literacy rates in the region.

According to the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation statistics for 2015, Ghana’s adult literacy rate is 76,6 percent. Only Cape Verde (87,6) ranks higher.

Nigeria scores 59 percent while Niger has the lowest at 19,1 percent.

CAJ News

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