Although government has tried over the years to ensure that all children of school going age are enrolled in school, that is being thwarted by various factors including poor infrastructure in primary schools.
President John Mahama in August this year said during a radio interview with Uniiq FM that Ghana has achieved almost 99 per cent school enrollment in the basic level, as opposed to the less than 50 per cent at the time that he started his basic education.
“Today, under the Millennium Development Goal, we have achieved almost 99 per cent school enrollment; almost all children who should be in school are in school,” he said in an address to the nation to mark International Youth Day.
He said the government is working out a special programme to ensure that those who are not in school enrol, adding, “we have achieved gender parity with regards to school enrollment”.
But Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom challenged the President’s claim, describing it as wrong. “I heard President Mahama live on radio this morning say that 99 per cent of children in Ghana are in school today. With all due respect to my friend John, he is wrong,” he said.
“This is not happening in Drobo, Elmina, Bukom, Fante New Town, Ayigbe Town, Essikado, or Tolon,” he observed as he admitted that the best legacy the nation can give to its children is to offer them good education
Primary school enrollment in some rural areas in the country are far below expectation despite various policy directives and interventions by the government over the years. Enrolment in primary school is decreasing in some rural Ghana due to poor and lack of infrastructure.
A tour of some of basic schools across the country by TV3 correspondents painted a gloomy picture of the situation. A number of primary schools in the country are currently using dilapidated structures, cocoa sheds, mission house verandas, shades of trees, and in some cases, thatched houses as classrooms.
In some cases, schools which are fortunate to have good classrooms lack teaching and learning materials as well as toilet facilities; a situation that is hampering attendance in most primary schools especially in rural Ghana.
Electricity, toilet facilities, safe buildings, tables, chairs, libraries, computer laboratories, safe classrooms, sports fields, laboratories for science experiments and running water are nonexistent in some of the schools visited by TV3.
From the Eastern Region, Yvonne Neequaye reports that lack of classrooms for the pupils of Besease Dowanor Roman Catholic Primary School has forced some of them to use the porch of a dilapidated mission house as their classrooms.
Others who could not get spaces at the porch are using a bamboo and thatched facility as their classrooms. She reports that the situation is no different in a number of rural schools in the region.
"The situation has deterred children of school going age from going to school. They prefer to stay home than risk studying under the poor facility," Yvonne reports, noting that for the past 50 years, the school has been using a makeshift facility provided for by the community as their classroom.
She reports that a six-unit classroom block being put up has been stalled, and weeds and termites have taken over the structure while metal railings are rusting off. School authorities say the lack of classrooms has forced them to combine classes one and two.
"The zeal to learn is discouraged by the poor facility they study in amidst unfavorable weather conditions from rains to the scorching sun," Yvonne reports.The Head-teacher of the school, Bismark Kudalor, says the situation has been very challenging as parents have lost interest in sending their children to the school, fearing the makeshift facility might collapse soon.
Zubaida Ismail reports from the Sagnarigu District of the Northern Region that lack of infrastructure such as tables and chairs is hampering education at the Kulaa Anglican Basic School; the only school in the community.
Pupils are forced to sit on the plastered floor which also serves as their table and exercise book. "Pupils aside writing on the floor, have no text books for references. This is affecting education in the community as pupils are assessed by what they write on the floor" Zubaida reports.
A teacher at the school, Madam Philomena Appiah told TV3 that "both teachers and pupils find it difficult with teaching and learning as we are compelled to combine classes due to the infrastructure deficit the school is faced with"
Zubaida reports that situation is having a dire effects on enrollment as parents prefer to keep their wards at home than allowing them go to school. Headmaster of the school, Abdul Mumin Sa-ad, in confirming the poor enrolment said school authorities always go into homes to plead with parents before they allow their wards to come to school.
"This attitude is affecting enrollment and even the few we have persistently stay out of school especially during harvesting season," he told TV3.
Our Central Regional Correspondent, Spencer K. Boateng Mensah reports that students of the Duakwah Catholic Junior High School in the Agona East District of the Central Region face imminent ejection from a cocoa shed they are using as their classrooms for the past 10 years.
School authorities have on a number of occasions been threatened by eviction notices from owners of the shed that the school has partitioned with wood to serve as classrooms for the three classes; JHS one to three.
Headmaster of the school, Paul Sagoe, told tv3network.com that "The cocoa company marketing firm which owns the building has been sending us ejection letters so we have been pleading, we are just at their mercies…".
Efforts by the school authorities to get the District office of Education and the Assembly to find them alternative building have proved futile.
He says in view of the wooden partition, which is at chest level, the students are mostly distracted by excessive noise from their colleagues in adjoining classrooms. The situation, he reported, is no different when there is teaching going on in the three classrooms simultaneously, noting that the voices of these teachers conflict, making it difficult to concentrate.