Governments are quick to trumpet theoretical models of practicing decentralization, championing development from a bottom – up approach and prioritizing educational inclusiveness when in reality actions are but mere sloganeering. Education still remains as Connie Loo puts it ‘An investment essential to empowering individuals reach their full potentials and to make their own positive impact on the world. Education has received some good attention from government’s over the years, in 2018, the government of Ghana spent nearly four percent of its total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on education, laudable but more room for improvement considering the importance of education to the socioeconomic development of the country.
This paper focuses on the grave educational disparity gap in rural communities in Ghana and calls for attention from the government as a key stakeholder in bridging the educational inequality in the country.
Rural Education in Perspective; the true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members: the case of Ghana is horrendous as the educational fundamentals in rural communities that should serve as a springboard to enable growth and development is poor. Governments must be conscious in advancing educational conditions that creates equal opportunities for all its citizens.
Tabling the little opportunities available in rural communities, education as the great Nelson Mandela asserts ‘is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mine worker can become the head of the mine, a child of farm workers can become the president of a great nation. It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another’. Rural education in Ghana is in a limbo as they face several challenges.
Over sixty years after independence, the basic facilities for children in rural communities to access education is very poor considering the deplorable conditions they face including lack of books, libraries, lack/woefully inadequate school blocks, poorly motivated teachers, lack of computers and even electricity are some critical challenges facing rural education.
School children find themselves studying under trees or poorly maintained structures that are death traps. It is a moral and legal right for political actors to respect the constitutional provision that;
‘the state shall provide educational facilities at all levels in all the regions of Ghana, and shall, to the greatest extent possible make these facilities available to all citizens,’’ in the face of the appalling state of rural education in Ghana, this is mere rhetoric.
Every year, students as a measure of academic certification and progression are required to write the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) to qualify students nationwide for admission into secondary and vocational schools in Ghana. This blanket measure of performance does not take into consideration the educational backgrounds and struggles of school pupils in the rural communities to the ones in major cities and towns. In practice, there is comparative advantage of pupils schooling in towns, cities and urban areas to pupils in rural communities. It must be acknowledged that there are challenges with our educational system across levels but none is a grave and can be juxtaposed to the state of rural education in Ghana.
We are practicing an unfair system, educational liberty is to have the requisite conditions to live as you wish and to go where you want, but without equality there certainly cannot be liberty for pupils in rural communities to realize their potentials. The unfair educational play field is largely to their disadvantage considering the unequal access to quality education in rural areas vis a vis that of the urban zones.
In all facets of educational development, students in the cities are exposed to numerous social and environmental happenings in their surroundings, their daily interactions with digital technology exposes them far better in terms of depth of knowledge and academic performance.
In the communities that have benefited from our organization (www.necessaryaidalliance.org) bridging educational inequality outreach activities, I stated in a report that runs through most rural schools saying;
‘In the age where digital technology/ICT is shaping all facets of the world, it is appalling to note that out of the entire school population, only two students claim to have ever seen a computer but not used it. Meaning, there is no single student that have ever used a computer. We are glad to have equally donated the first computer to aid in teaching and learning with the ultimate aim of bridging the digital literacy gap’.
The conditions in the Kpazie community is no different from several other communities we have visited. The sad tragedy which is the norm is subjecting students who have never seen talk more of using a computer to write Information Communication Technology exams in competition with the city school students who not only have their schools furnished with a computer laboratory but own computer devices at home to same BECE examination.
The educational conditions in rural areas have not served the purpose of retaining confidence among parents and teenage girls, there is little motivation to keep the girl child in schools. They fall victims to child marriages, teenage pregnancies and school dropouts. Young gents to as a result of the uninspiring teaching and learning conditions dropout to engage in farming or visits mining pits to invest efforts in illegal mining activities popularly called ‘galamsey’. The core to reducing/ending the menace of teenage pregnancy, child marriages, school dropout in rural communities is to revamp the educational standards by providing infrastructure, serene for studies, teacher motivation, resourcing rural schools with teaching and learning materials and improving the school feeding program.
It is high time government through the ministry of education focus special attention on education in rural areas which has continuously suffered from poor planning and defective policy implementation that sadly accounts for abysmal performances and dwindling enrollment levels. We must walk the theoretical talks to address the disparities of educational planning across all levels to focus efforts on an inclusive national policy direction towards creating equal access to education regardless of geographic location.
As a youth led nonprofit organization with a key thematic area that aims to bridge educational inequality in the country with operational priorities in the Upper West Region of Ghana, we believe that partnership and collaboration reaps results and we are by this seeking for active partnerships to augment the efforts of government in addressing the myriad challenges that envelops education in rural communities. ‘’It is not beyond our power to create a world in which all children have access to a good education. Those who do not believe this have small imaginations’’ we believe in the words of the great Madiba. Believe!!
The writer is the Executive Director of Necessary Aid Alliance
Tel: +233 (549344009)
Wa, Upper West Region.