Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Prof. Aaron Michael Oquaye, says if there should be some major reforms in the education sector to achieve the best for the country, the first of such reforms is to give back mission schools to their original owners.
The time to do is, he noted, is now, believing that if government embarks on such a move, it will bring competition among the schools and brings out the best in the students.
“Governments like to stretch their hands too far. They want to interfere with everything. If some people have got their school and they are doing well, leave them – and I believe that it is time Boards or Governors, old boys and girls were given more latitude to manage their schools – and the lesser the interference, the better.”
“Governments have never in this country been known to have done anything better through interference. If you talk about the standards in Wey Gey Hey and other places, it is because of strong principals. When things were really bad, they stood their grounds – I won’t take this girl for anything. They [governments] interfere too much and in the end we pollute. I am not talking about any particular government but governments as a whole.”
“The time should soon come when all church secondary schools whether it is Adisadel for the Anglicans, St. Augustine’s for the Catholics and so forth and so on should be given back to them to manage. They are capable of managing. This brings competition. This general for all things does not bring out the best in the people,” he noted.
Rt. Hon. Prof. Oquaye made this observation when a delegation from the Presbyterian Senior High School (PRESEC), Legon, led by Rev. Dr. Ebenezer Markwei, Global President, PRESEC Old Students Association, paid a courtesy call on him at his office, Monday, March 27, 2017, to congratulate him on his elevation to the position of Speaker of the Parliament of Ghana.
Their visit was to also share with the Speaker some issues of concern regarding the school. The Speaker is an old student of the school, having completed in 1962.
Commenting further on the issue, the Rt. Hon. Prof. Oquaye said when mission schools are given back to their original owners, Ghana will witness headmasters and teachers who are more committed and dedicated to their schools.
In 2014, a performance review by the government in the educational sector, especially the basic and high schools, spurred the need for the State to reconsider giving back the mission schools to its original owners.
The government, through the Ministry of Education, was not happy about their findings, hence, the decision to fall on the missions (now churches) to correct the wrongs of the past.
Lack of proper supervision, falling standards of education, moral decadence and financial constraints were cited as the basis in arriving at such a decision.
The decision was being considered as welcoming news for the churches, which have over the years, tried relentlessly to gain control of their cherished assets, which were once enviable institutions.
Formal education in Ghana, according to historians, began in what was known as castle schools some two hundred years ago.
The education given then was meant to equip citizens with the needed tutoring for them to work as clerks for the European merchants, and as teachers for their children.
Beyond the schools, the various missionary societies that arrived in the Gold Coast as part of their evangelization, introduced formal education.
Among the missionary groups were the Wesleyan Mission, Basel Mission, Bremen Mission and English Mission among others.
By 1882, the colonial government in the Gold Coast recognized the role of the missions in the establishment of schools and, therefore, gave legal recognition to the partnership between government and the churches, with the Education Ordinance passed that year.
The government, seeing the role of the missions in establishing schools and bringing formal education to the people, began to establish their own schools.
In 1887, another Ordinance was passed to differentiate between the government schools and government assisted schools. By this Ordinance, government assisted schools were financially assisted by the government while non-assisted schools were run completely by the various church organizations.
However, the responsibility of provision of education at all levels with control of all schools was taken over by the government after independence in 1957. The result was that all mission schools became part of the public system under the Ministry of Education, with its main agent, the Ghana Education Service, to manage them.
Experts say the 1952 Accelerated Development Plan for Education and the 1961 Education Act attempted to take over the mission schools, but could not succeed, much to the public outcry.
However, after the 1966 coup, all mission schools that were taken over by the government, which were owned by the churches before and after 1952, and which were only temporarily managed at the time, were to be reverted to the churches for permanent management.
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