NGO, partners highlight progress, challenges in Early Childhood Education

By Albert Futukpor

Tamale, Feb 07, GNA – Children Believe and its partners have commemorated this year’s International Day of Education to highlight the progress, challenges and way forward for Early Childhood Education with emphasis on the five regions in the north and the country at large.

During the event held in Tamale, the Regional Early Childhood Education (ECE) Coordinators from the Northern, North East, Savannah, Upper East and Upper West regions took turns to make presentations on the status of ECE in their regions.

Their presentations showed that while many ECE facilities were in a deplorable state, many of them lacked water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, age-appropriate furniture, overcrowded classrooms with low number of trained teachers and attendants amongst other challenges.

It came to light that about 152 kindergarten classroom blocks were needed to create a positive learning environment for children in the North East Region, and the situation in the Northern Region was not different as many kindergarten pupils had no age-appropriate chairs and desks.

The situation deprived children the strong foundation in education as well as demoralised some parents from enrolling their children in Early Childhood Education.

Mrs Esenam Kavi De Souza, the Country Director, Children Believe, a child -centred development international non-governmental organisation, called on Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to prioritise ECE in their annual plans and budgets to improve the sector.

This year’s International Day of Education was on the theme: “Learning for Lasting Peace”.

Mrs De Souza cited weak accountability in education management across the various levels, inefficient planning and management of issues related to teacher training, deployment, retention and attrition as some of the challenges affecting the implementation of the ECE Policy in the country.

Others are overage and underage enrolment, creating inefficiency in the system, and inadequate budgetary allocation for service delivery and infrastructural provision.

She urged the Ghana Education Service (GES) to intensify efforts geared towards ensuring that teachers trained in ECE were posted to those classes to serve for the benefit of the children.

She spoke about Children Believe’s interventions in the ECE sector saying: “In pursuit of our mandate to break barriers to education, the Ghana programme invested 70 per cent of our annual programme budget for this year into ECE (which includes lower primary).”

Mr Isaac Atta-Baah, the Principal Programmes Officer, Early Childhood Education, Ministry of Education, contributing to a panel discussion on the presentations of the Regional ECE Coordinators, said the Ministry was working to increase the budgetary allocation to the sector from the current 10 per cent to 15 per cent.

Madam Priscilla Andece-Walters, Acting Head, ECE Unit, GES, expressed need for communities to support efforts at addressing some of the challenges at the Early Childhood Education level.

Hajia Katumi Natogma Attah, the Northern Regional Director of Education, appealed for recruitment of trained ECE teachers for the region to make for the shortfall.