Africa Education Watch, an education policy think tank, revealed in its latest work that about 5.8 million children in Ghana’s public basic schools lack desks.
According to Africa Educational Watch, the figure includes 1.2 million in Kindergarten (KG), 3.2 million in primary, and 1.4 million in Junior High Schools (JHS).
The think tank, in its alert, quoted the Ministry of Education’s data that indicated that by 2021, about 596,000 KG pupils, representing half of the national KG population, and 1.28 million pupils in primary schools lacked desks in school.
It said another 425,000 pupils, representing 30 percent of JHS pupils were without writing spaces; “This brings the total number of public basic school pupils without desks to about 2.3 million.”
It stated that the desk situation is worse at the primary level in the education sector’s most underserved regions, namely Northern, North East, Savannah, Upper East, Upper West, Bono East, and Oti.
The Northern Region leads with 213,252 public primary school pupils without desks, followed by Upper East (118,340) and Bono East (86,074), the think added.
It said cumulatively, 638,008 representing 61 percent of public primary school pupils in the seven underserved regions in Ghana’s education sector do not have desks.
“Proportionally, while all the seven regions have the percentage of public primary school pupils, lacking desks higher than the national average of 40 percent; the North East Region leads with a maximum of 80 percent of primary school pupils lacking desks.
“The Northern Region followed with 70 percent with Upper East, Bono East, and Savanna regions all recording 60 percent,” it noted.
According to EduWatch, the lack of desks has an impact on students’ learning, handwriting, and health because they are forced to write in awkward positions during class.
According to the Education think tank, a recent study found that approximately 24 percent of students in sampled schools in the Nkwanta South Municipality sat on stones to write on their laps, while 25 percent lay on the floor in selected schools in the Zabzugu District.
EduWatch estimated that 800,000 dual desks, 150,000 KG tables, and 600,000 KG chairs were desperately needed in Ghana’s primary schools.
“This is estimated to cost between GH¢330 to GH¢350 million, an amount equivalent to how much Ghana’s Government spends on the free SHS in just six weeks.”
The think tank blamed poor funding of basic education infrastructure, which manifests in the construction of schools without an adequate supply of furniture or the absence of schools and furniture in some communities.
“The Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) is Ghana’s main funding engine for education infrastructure.
“In recent times, the quantum of GETFund expended on basic education has been on a steady decline, with only 16 per cent GETFund’s infrastructure expenditure budget allocated to basic education in 2022, with secondary education receiving about 44 percent,” EduWatch stated.
It advised the government to change its regular public procurement approach to providing desks, which have proved grossly insufficient in resolving the challenge, to an alternative of exploring innovative, inclusive decentralized approaches that were cost-efficient.
Meanwhile, it has asked the Ministry of Education to roll out a coordinated strategic approach, involving corporate Ghana, local governments, religious groups, traditional authorities, civil society, and the Forestry Commission.
Source: rainbow radio
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