Education Under Mahama’s Gov’t Was ‘Bleak’ - NAPO Tells African Decision-Makers

Education Minister, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh has told dignitaries at this year’s Innovation Africa Summit that Ghana’s education sector under the Mahama-led government was ‘miserable’.

The event is an important platform for African decision-makers in education and Information and Communications Technology [ICT].

Speaking at the summit held in Accra, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh said the education sector before the NPP came to government was “bleak” after giving figures to back his claims.

“Teacher absenteeism rate stood at 30% (30% - 9%). 45% of all candidates failed Mathematics in 2015 Only 2% of Primary 2 pupils were found to be proficient in reading in 2013 and 2015, per Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA), 25% of Primary 6 pupils were proficient in English, There were huge outstanding bills from unpaid capitation grants, supply of textbooks and school uniforms, laptops and vehicles, among others, amounting to over $71m.”

“About 100,000 children a year who passed the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) and were placed in senior high schools did not take up their offer, primarily due to financial reasons. This represented 28-30% of all BECE candidates. There was no graduate teacher recruitment between 2012 and 2015.The teacher trainee allowance, a core component of teacher training education in this country for many years, had been abolished.”  He said


Read below full statement

Honourable Minister of Communications, co-host of Innovation Africa Summit 2019

Honourable Ministers of State from Ghana and abroad

Honourable Members of Parliament herein gathered

Chief Executive Officer, AfricaBrains

Heads of Visiting Delegations

Members of the Diplomatic Corps

Directors of the Ministries of Education and Communications

Heads of various state agencies

Friends from the Media

Distinguished Invited Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen


It is my honour to address you this morning at the Innovation Africa Summit 2019 and to welcome you all, especially those of you who have travelled from abroad to be with us. Ghana is famous for the hospitality and warmth of her people, and I am sure you will experience this in the course of your stay here. As you may be aware, President Akufo-Addo declared 2019 the Year of Return, to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first African slaves in North Eastern America. The project has resulted in a huge surge of visitors from North America and elsewhere to this country, and we are proud of our pan African credentials over the years .

Ladies and gentlemen, over the years, Ghana has made significant progress in her drive to push the education and skills training of her people as important part of making her a successful, industrialised and confident nation. It goes without saying that education is the shortest distance between deprivation and prosperity and deserves the utmost attention of any nation.

When the government of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo took office in January 2017, the landscape of the education sector was bleak.

Ø Teacher absenteeism rate stood at 30% (30% - 9%).

Ø 45% of all candidates failed Mathematics in 2015

Ø Only 2% of Primary 2 pupils were found to be proficient in reading in 2013 and 2015, per Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA)

Ø 25% of Primary 6 pupils were proficient in English

Ø There were huge outstanding bills from unpaid capitation grants, supply of textbooks and school uniforms, laptops and vehicles, among others, amounting to over $71m

Ø About 100,000 children a year who passed the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) and were placed in senior high schools did not take up their offer, primarily due to financial reasons. This represented 28-30% of all BECE candidates

Ø There was no graduate teacher recruitment between 2012 and 2015

Ø The teacher trainee allowance, a core component of teacher training education in this country for many years, had been abolished. 


It was clear that something had to be done across all levels of our education system, and quickly so, if we were to give our young citizens any hope of a solid future through the inevitable power of quality education.

One of the firsts tasks we set ourselves was to have a review of our pre-tertiary curriculum, and at the beginning of this academic year in September 2019, the Ghana Education Service rolled out a new, standard-based curriculum for our schools at the basic level, with 152,000 teachers trained and supplied with teacher resource packs to deliver the new curriculum.

Again at the basic level, we have constructed 227 structures across the country, including kindergarten, 3 and 6 unit blocks to improve access. We have also increased capitation grant by 122%, and paid fully to cover over 5.8 million pupils in the 2018/19 academic year. Our feeding grant for special schools has been fully paid and covered 7,535 students for the 2018/19 academic year.  Our BECE subsidy has fully paid to cover 391,318 candidates in 2019.

Of course, no meaningful educational reforms can take place without the teacher, who plays a central role in all of this. This is what drives our ‘Teacher First’ policy as we seek to transform the educational landscape in this country, to ensure that the teacher is adequately equipped to drive those reforms.

Under the National Teacher Education Curriculum Framework, we have developed and revised the curriculum for Teacher Training and have introduced a 4-Year Bachelor of Education curriculum for pre-service teacher training, replacing the Diploma in Basic Education. Accordingly, we have upgraded Colleges of Education to degree awarding University Colleges affiliated to Public Universities.

Currently, our Teacher Policy is being developed with the Teacher Taskforce to guide recruitment, deployment, accountability, career path, rewards and remuneration, teacher standards and teacher training. We have also introduced the teacher licensure regime in order to improve the professionalization of teachers and bring them in line with international best practices, whilst Continuous Professional Development has also been introduced with the same objectives. The strengthening of the National Inspectorate Board (NIB) has also led to a reduction in teacher absenteeism from 30% to 9%.

Ladies and Gentlemen, in 2017 the government rolled out its Free Senior High School programme to address the financial challenges of access to senior high school in this country. Under this programme, secondary enrolment has increased by 43%, from 881,600 in 2016 to 1,264,071 in 2019. The transition rate from Junior High School to Senior High School increased from 67% in 2016 to 87.7% in 2018, and to accommodate the extra numbers, 804 Classroom and Dormitory blocks are being built across the country.

Under the programme, we are supplying 4 core textbooks, student 9 exercise books and 4 note books to each student. We are also providing school uniforms, school and house clothes, P.E. Kit and free meals for boarding and day students. To acknowledge the role of teachers in the Free SHS programme, government funds a teacher motivation fee of GHS20 per student per year, and again pays GHS50 per student per year for teachers to undertake academic interventions for the students. A review of the SHS curriculum is also currently under way.

Ladies and gentlemen, the government of President Akufo-Addo recognizes the important role of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) for industrialization, and as a result has taken several steps towards mainstreaming it to make it an option of first and not last resort for young people seeking a career.

At present, over 400 public sector TVET Institutions are scattered under 19 Ministries, leading to fragmentation. These institutions are being aligned under the Ministry of Education to ensure standardization of certification. A Pre-Tertiary Education Bill that mandates the creation of a TVET Service, with its own Director-General, has been laid before Parliament. We have also developed a Competency Based Training (CBT) curriculum for 10 trade areas and have accredited 76 institutions to run CBT Programmes. In addition to this, we are setting up a University solely dedicated to the training of teachers for TVET.

We are also working on rolling out 32 state-of-the-art TVET Institutions across the country. The feasibility studies for these have been completed, funding proposals have been received and approval has been sought from the Public Procurement Authority for procurement to commence. In addition to this, development is under way for 8 Technical Universities, 2 Polytechnics and 13 Technical Institutes, whilst 35 National Vocational & Technical Institutions (NVTIs) are being expanded and upgraded across the country.

Ghana will continue to invest in the education of our children to make them competitive, skilled global citizens and equip them with the right skills to secure this country’s future. That is a legacy we are determined to bequeath the next generation.

Distinguished guests, technology and innovation sit at the centre of Africa’s transformation agenda. I am happy that we are gathered here to discuss taking this forward. We cannot however make any progress without an agenda that has skills development at its core and is financed by us as Africans. The African Union through the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) and African Development Bank is operationalizing the African Education Fund to facilitate the skills needed for our industrialization.  We all need to mobilize resources to support this endeavour. Ghana has pledged UD$2 million to the African Education Fund. I call on all of us to show our commitment to the fund to own our industrial and economic transformation. 

Among other support, the African Education Fund provides for investment in TVET, STEM and Higher Education Research and Innovation. The Fund will facilitate the standardization and accreditation of our Innovation and TVET centres across the continent. This will be linked to regional accreditation centres with connection to recognized international bodies as this will accelerate the growth of innovation on our continent.

Ladies and Gentlemen, under the Ghana Accountability for Learning Outcomes Project (GALOP), the government of Ghana seeks to improve the quality of low performing basic education schools and strengthen education sector equity and accountability in Ghana. The project is targeting 10,000 most disadvantaged schools based on examination performance. It will also support the training of teachers, manage class sizes and improve systems for accountability, national assessments and teacher management. The 5 GALOP disbursement indicators (which will be shared later with you in their presentation) translates into real, practical means by which we aim to improve teaching and learning in our schools and ultimately drive up learning outcomes. The total project funding amounts to US$ 174m, of which US$150m is from the World Bank International Development Association and US$ 23.9m is a GPE Grant.


Distinguished guests, now is the time for African countries to accelerate their socio-economic transformation by developing skilled professionals in applied sciences, engineering and technology. This will enable millions of youth to integrate faster into an increasingly innovative and technological workforce and address the continent’s challenges through scientific and technical research and innovation. On average, only 0.4% of GDP is spent on research and development in sub-Saharan Africa compared to the world average of 1.7%.

It was in recognition of this critical need to strengthen science and technology capability for the socio-economic development of sub-Saharan Africa, that the Partnership for skills in Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology (PASET) was launched in 2013, a collaboration between African governments and the World Bank.

In operationalizing a Pan African science fund for the first time, PASET set objectives and principles of operation, obtained seed money from African government, and instituted a resource mobilization strategy among others. The Fund, known as the Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund (RSIF), has witnessed significant success. I believe PASET has an important role to play in the future of Africa, and I urge African governments commit to it and help bring transformation in the lives of their people.

Ladies and gentlemen, I do look forward to a hugely successful summit and wish to appreciate the decision of the organisers to bring Innovation Africa to Accra this year. I am confident that this summit will stimulate the discussion further on driving this continent’s future forward.

Thank you for your time and attention.

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