When NGOs engage GES over girls’ education in Ghana

Introduction As they say and which I also share, the task of providing quality education, including girls’ education, is about active collaboration, partnership and participation from all of us. If education really is a right and we think “All”should benefit from it, as contained in our nation’s educational plans, including the Education Strategic Plan (2010-2020) or so, and which several international conventions on education, such as the Sustainable Development Goals also profess then there is a clarion need for all and sundry to get involved. Education practitioners and managers should continue to open their doors wide but well secured to allow for true stakeholders, including organisations, corporate bodiesand philanthropists to collaborate and participate in providing good quality education to all citizens. It is true that the Ghana Education Service (GES) is the agency responsible for managing pre-tertiary education in Ghana. And it is true that with the complex nature of its task of ensuring that education activities happen well across the board, the GES has to be supported. Professor Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa is the new acting Director-General of the GES. This write-up congratulates him and assures readers of a detailed introduction of the learned man in a special edition which shall come soon. Though has been in office for less than a month, Prof Opoku-Amankwa has been all over the place consulting and deliberating with organisations, unions, bodies and with almost everybody just to chart an improved path for our nation’s education. I should say that all heads of schools, supervisors, officers and education directors know and do appreciate that they cannot and will not pretend to be doing it all alone. Appeals for an effective stakeholder support in education service delivery are being made to all of us regularly and this piece of writing also thinks that the responses, so far, are commendable. I was privileged to have participated and served as a rapporteur in a two-day Annual Girls’ Education Review Meeting,which happened recently at Koforidua and which some 55 girls’ education officers and officials of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) also attended. The two-day meeting was under the aegis of the Girls’ Education Unit (GEU) of the Basic Education Division of GES with major sponsorship from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Campaign for Female Education (CAMFED). This write-up begs to share with readers and members of the general public bits and pieces of what transpired at that meeting. Mandate of GEU The GEU, headed by Mrs. Catherine Nutsugah-Mikado,has its functions as follows: Coordinating with all relevant institutions, Donor Partners (DPs), NGOs, CBOs and government departments and agencies to advance policy and planning of girls’ education; Establishing a database on girls’ education in order to strengthen the capacity of the GES at the school-community, district, regional and national levels; Research on issues relating to girls’ education and to disseminate the findings to policy makers, district assemblies and to all relevant stakeholders; Acting as a pressure group within the Ministry of Education (MoE) to advocate for strategies that advance the implementation of policies related to enhancing girls’ education; Advocating for bye-laws to boost girls’ enrollment and retention in specific localities; Collaborating with the Divisions and Units in the GES on gender-related issues; Liaising with CRDD and textbook writers to correct gender stereotyping in specific subjects and textbooks to ensure gender balance of illustrations and examples; Examine and develop national and regional strategies for improving enrollment, retention, transition, completion and achievement of girls at the pre-tertiary level; Advocate for the rights of girls’ education; Initiate, implement and recommend new interventions for bridging the gender gap; Collaborate with partners to implement projects related to girls’ education. The Annual Girls’ Education Review Meeting The meetingsaw the launch of a network of organisations dubbed, “Girls’ Education Network (GEN)”, which shall work with the GEU to promote girls’ education in Ghana. The GEN, with the support of the Girls’ Education Advisory Body, shall support the GEU in the implementation of its activities and functions. The GEN, made up of officials of government agencies, civil society organisations, donor partners, educational and research institutions and girls’ education practitioners, is premised on the fact that education, including girls’ education, is fundamental to the promotion of the human rights of the child and it is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty in Ghana. The Network hopes to create the platform for systematic coordination and monitoring of all efforts geared towards the promotion of girls’ education and for ensuring that all of those efforts are in consonance with the National Vision for Girls’ Education in Ghana. Welcome Address Eastern Regional Director of GES Margaret Mensah gave the welcome address, where she lauded the GEU for its initiative of having to assemble key stakeholders towards girls’ education. She said the initiative should not only be seen as a platform for bringing together organisations but also as an avenue to have the activities of member organisations effectively coordinatedand monitored. Purpose of Meeting Mrs. Catherine Nutsugah-Mikado informed that the GEU has started registering genuine organisations and institutions which are working on promoting girls’ education in the country.She expressed her displeasure at the way and manner some organisations perform their activitieswithout recourse to the GEU and the GES. “As we speak, the GEU hasrecorded 300 organisations which are into girls’ education. The situation where some organisations claim to have been supporting girls’ education without the knowledge of the GEU must stop and I hope that our presence here will help us to know the way out of this situation”, she said. She praised development partners and girls’ education officers for their hard work and accentuated, “I am happy we are here to share our stories together and to learn from the stories for better performance. But for our girls’ education officers and our partners, we wouldn’t have come to this far in girls’ education as a Unit and as anation.” Remarks from Development Partners An official of UNICEF, Madeez Adamu-Issah, on behalf of the partners, urged all organisations in girls’ education to have their names documented with the GEU and the GES so as to promote effective coordination and monitoring of their activities. Mr. Adamu-Issah urged the GES to see the organisations working with them as active partners in education other than being looked at as meresponsors of meetings, workshops and programmes. Remarks by Acting Deputy Director-General of GES The Director of Basic Education and acting Director-General of GES, Mrs. Cynthia Bosumtwi-Sam, who was the Guest of Honour, expressed gratitude to the participants for their role at supporting girls’ education and urged them to continue to work hard. Mrs. Bosumtwi-Sam also affirmed the need for organisations into girls’ education to get registered to allow for effective monitoring and evaluation of their activities in the country. She charged the participants to propose practical policies and programmes on girls’ education as they strengthen their network with education authorities as to how their policy proposalscould be adopted and implemented. She then launched the GEN and tasked the members to follow due processes and procedures in all of their consultations and deliberations with the GES/GEU and other stakeholders.

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Composition of GEN and Girls’ Education Advisory Body The GEN, with an advisory capacity, has a total of 13 members from each of the following organisations and institutions: Policy, Budget, Monitoring and Evaluation (PBME) Division of MoE Basic Education Division of GES Secondary Education Division of GES Girls’ Education Division of GES United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Development Partners (DFID, USAID, JICA, KOICA, etc) Campaign for Female Education (CAMFED) National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) Department of Social Welfare Ghana Health Service Ghana National Education Campaign Coalition (GNECC) Representative from NGOs Key Responsibilities of Girls’ Education Advisory Body The responsibilities of the Girls’ Education Advisory Body include the following: Advise the GEU on the establishment of GEN Counsel on matters of girls’ education relating to the relevance, implementation, effectiveness and review of policies Advise and support the GEU in the implementation of GEP Advise the GEU on effective planning and coordination of efforts among implementing stakeholders, including NGOs Undertake advocacy activities on girls’ education Advise the GEU on the coordination of activities of organisations working on girls’ education Upon request or on its own initiative, consider and make recommendations on any matter being considered on girls’ education Advise the GEU on the development and implementation of girls’ education activities Convene technical task forces as necessary for specific assignments and activities Provide guidance and feedback on assignments and activities of the task forces as they deem convenient In consultation with the membership of the GEN, advise the GEU on steps to align current and future girls’ education interventions in Ghana with the Government of Ghana Gender in Education Policy In collaboration with the GEU, convene annual review meetings of the GEN to share updates, knowledge, best practices and to develop a plan of action Modus Operandi of Girls’ Education Network The GEU shall convene meetings of the Advisory Body with the support from a co-convener. Members of the Advisory Body shall be selected by the Director of GEU, in consultation with the Director-General of GES, and by the request of the organisations and institutions as amember on the Advisory Body serves for a period of not more than three years. Other activities within the leadership of the GEN are as follows: The chairperson of the Advisory Body shall convene and chair all meetings Members shall meet, at least four times in a year, at a place and time as the chairperson may determine Emergency meetings shall be held with notification of at least 48 hours Two-thirds of the members present shall constitute a quorum for meetings The Advisory Body may admit any person(s) or co-opt member(s) to its meetings whenever it considers it appropriate to do so Decisions shall be determined by consensus among members present The agenda and minutes of meetings shall be shared with members of the GEN The Advisory Body may, at any time, appoint any committee that it considers appropriate and to assign to them a task. Funding of Activities of Girls’ Education Network The Ghana Education Advisory Body shall receive financial and logistical support from member institutions in organising meetings and stakeholder engagements; The Advisory Body shall identify other strategies to promote the sustainability of its work beyond its seed funding from DFID through CAMFED. Remarks by GEU Director on the state of Girls’ Education Mrs. Catherine Nutsugah-Mikadopresentedthe state of girls’ education in Ghana on behalf of GEU, where she hailed development partners, organisations and other stakeholders, includingbut not limited to UNICEF, CAMFED Ghana, DFID, World Vision and IBIS for their support to the GEU and girls’ education over the years. She said the GEU had done several activities to promote girls’ education as follows: Mapping of CBOs/NGOs into girls’ education, with funding from UNICEF[300 CBOs/NGOs have, so far, been registered] Developed a directory of CBOs/NGOs into girls’ education with the support of PBME, Institute of Development Studies (UCC), GNECC, ICT Unit of GES and GES EMIS officers at the districts and regions [Directory yet to be published] Development of a Resource Handbook [Almost 90% complete with unedited copiesnow available for review. Funding: UNICEF and DFID] Development of Gender in Education Policy [Work in progress, 3rd Draft, with funding from UNICEF] Conducted a case study on girls who dropped out of school due to pregnancy and developed preventive and facilitative strategies for re-integration [Work completed with the Report of key findings yet to be incorporated into the policy guidelines with funding from UNICEF] Development of guidelines to address pregnancy and schooling issues with funding from UNICEF [Work in progress, 3rd Draft being developed] Collection of baseline data in three districts [Jasikan, Atiwa and Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa] Organised Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programme in two districts, including Jasikan and Atiwa Organised an Annual Girls’ Education Review meeting with funding from UNICEF Provided PASS Scholarship to 22,784 girls with funding from DFID [Status: First batch of beneficiaries in their final year of senior high school education] Development of a website for the GEU with funding from DFID [Work in progress] Conducting research on the PASS Scholarship programme to ascertain its effectiveness in promoting girls’ education Capacity building for Girls’ Education Officers with funding from UNESCO [35 officers have been trained so far] STEM clinics held at Jasikan and Atiwa with funding from UNESCO The Right to Play supported the training of 65 mathematics and science teachers in Greater Accra Region to promote gender participation in the two subjects. Solidarity Message from DFID An official of the Department for International Development (DFID), Susan Mensah, pledged the willingness of the Department to continue to work with the GES and other collaboratorsin order to promote quality education, including girls’ education, in Ghana. Activities of Organisations in Girls’ Education Officials of agencies, organisations and units, such as EMIS of MoE, UNESCO, WFP, British Council, T-TEL, World Vision, CAMFED, Varkey Foundation, IBIS, Right to Play, Discovery Alliance, MURAG, TVM, Guidance and Counselling Unit of GES and ActionAid addressed the participants on the activities of their organisations and institutions in promoting girls’ education. Presentation by EMISon Girls’ Education Mr. Herbert Goeman of the Education Management Information System (EMIS) Unit of MoE presented the modus operandi and the statistical data on girls’ education in the country, and raised a number of issues, including the following: EMIS collects annual census on education from schools through the district education directorates which usually happens on February 28 and November 30 each year; EMIS gathers two main types of information, namely;teacher information and school information (i.e. level/state/type/location/address and the kind of educational management of the school as well as the nature of school infrastructure/furniture/buildings/textbooksand school movement/attendance, which covers repeaters and pregnancies). Gender parity index is 1.01 in primary schoolsas junior high schools record 0.97 for girls, a development which needs improvement toinclude senior high and tertiary schools as well. “Data collection is a Herculean task but could be made simple, accurate and reliable with the support ofall stakeholders, including teachers, heads of schools and officers of GES”, Mr. Goeman stated.
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Remarks by UNESCOon Girls’ Education Mr. Odoi Asare of UNESCO made the following observations: Inadequate financial and human resources lowering the performance of GEU Low participation of girls in mathematics, science, technology and engineering courses Limited mandate of GEU to basic schools to blame for low participation of girls in senior high school education Weak coordination of the activities and performance of girls in education To resolve the issues, UNESCO said it undertook and would continue to undertake these activities: Trained about 50% GEU staffon the development, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes on girls’ education [i.e. trained 235 girls’ education officers: 9 at GES HQ in Accra, 10 regional officers and 216 district officers] Collection of baseline data in three districts (i.e. Jasikan, Atiwa and Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa) Organised STEM clinics in two districts, such as Jasikan and Atiwa [400 girls participated] Capacity building of girls’ education officers on project reporting, monitoring and evaluation Shall organise a series of STEM clinics Shall have consultative meetings with GEU and stakeholders on promote girls’ education UN-WEP on Girls’ Education Magdalene Owusu Moshi of the United Nations World Food Programmeoutlined the following activities as their contributions to girls’ education in Ghana: Supporting GEU to address Gender Parity Gaps (GPGs) in junior high schools in Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions since 1998 Conducted a market assessment in February 2016 on girls who dropped out of school and who were involved in child labour Distributed nutrition-sensitive packages to girls with 80% attendance at junior high schools Involved in sexual and reproductive health sensitisation programmes Distributed items like iodised salt, pulses, and oil [The distribution exercise happened after classes in the afternoon] UNESCO to provide girls in Volta, Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions with cashtransfers and which shall be paid to their parents or care-givers through financial institutions Remarks by British Council on Girls’ Education Official of the British Council Michael Owusu-Preko said that the Council has been involved in the management of scholarships, including the Vodafone Ghana Foundation’s scholarship, which supports girls, who are interested in the study of science at the senior high school level. Mr. Owusu-Preko informed that the Vodafone Scholarship is intended to support needy girls with high academic grades as the British Council organises camps for girls, where they are mentored on a wide range of skills, including financial skills. According to him, the Council awards 100 children per year with each child receiving Ghc3, 000.00 with textbooks also given to them to enable them attend extended classes. Activities of T-TEL in Girls’ Education Speaking on the contributions of the Transforming Teacher Education and Learning (T-TEL) programme to girls’ education, Ms. Marjorie Tackie, said the programme was a four-year Government of Government’s programme, supported by the UK Department for DFID, to transform the delivery of pre-service teacher education in Ghana. Ms. Tackie named the following activitiesof T-TELin promoting girls’ education: Piloting of a Gender Handbook for Teaching Practice Mentors at Bongo and KEEA districts [Report to be completed by July 2017] Planning for a sexual harassment study in Colleges of Education [Study to start by January 2018] On behalf of T-TEL, she acknowledged GEU as an important partner in raising the issue of gender parity in education within the MoE and teacher education structures in Ghana. World Vision International on Girls’ Education World Vision’s Gregory Dery identified the organisation’s activities as follows: Conducted a training programme on reading improvement for teachers of kindergarten and lower primary schools in the 25 beneficiary districts Formation and strengthening of reading camps in beneficiary communities Distributed bicycles to 3000 vulnerable girls in some rural communities in Kassena-Nankana West District Provided schools with gender-separated KVIPs with menstrual hygiene management units Provided safe drinking water through bore holes Facilitated the formation and operations of savings groups in communities to improve the income levels of parents and guardians Trained farmers on improved crop and livestock production Provided 350 farmers with resources to improve crop and livestock production Ended violence-against-children campaign with documentaries with TV3 on child marriage at Nkwanta, teenage pregnancy and child exploitation at Kintampo and child trafficking at Krachi Building children’s life skills and resilience in life Formation and strengthening of district and community child protection committees, including child online protection CAMFED on Girls’ Education Led by Deloris Dickson, CAMFED did the following major activities in girls’ education: Granted scholarship packages to girls in senior high schools Gave out comprehensive scholarship packages to girls in tertiary education Registered 17,786 past beneficiaries who are now members of the CAMFED Alumni CAMFED’s projects have helped 387 primary schools, 332 junior highand 101 senior high schools in 31 districts of Central, Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions Activities of Varkey Foundation in Girls’ Education According to Muniratu Issifu, Varkey Foundation undertook the following major activities: Building the capacity of teachers on girls’ education Conducted advocacy campaigns in teaching practice at the highest level of policy making Rolled out the MGCubed GEC Transition Programme Executed a programme dubbed, “Train for Tomorrow” in Eastern Region Did the programme, “Train to Reach Remote Classrooms” with a pilot project in 142 classrooms in 72 public schools within two regions [Helped girls in grades 2 to 5 in mathematics and science as “wonder women” met after school to learn life skills and gender equality issues. Programme was implemented from July 2013 to April 2017] Activities of IBIS in Girls’ Education Mr. Wumbei Dokurugu led the discussion on the activities of IBIS Ghana as follows: Built a model school which is sensitive to the needs of the girls Professional development of teachers using learner-centred methodology and gender-sensitive pedagogy Promotion of Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHRs) Empowerment of SMCs and PTAs Use of Girls’ Parliament, an innovation to improve girls’ speaking and debating skills on matters of human rights and reproductive health Provision of in-school supervision and teacher-support services Provision of ICT laboratories, science laboratories, libraries and hostel accommodation facilities Activities of “Right to Play” in Girls’ Education Mr. Dao Kwabena presented the activities of the Right to Play as follows: Used child rights clubs to raise awareness of parents on the learning needs of children Organised play days using child rights clubs Organised school-cluster-outreach programmesfocusing on menstrual hygiene management Established a “Community of Practice” programme for teachers and district officials Activities of Discovery Alliance in Girls’ Education Mr. Julius Agbekodid the presentation for Discovery Alliance as follows: Established 40 learning centres in Accra and Kumasi [42,354 students and 1,157 teachers havebenefited from the activities of the learning centres] Trained over 15,000 educators on girls’ educational issues Formed 1,190 girls’ clubs in the beneficiary communities Empowered 839 communities on girls’ education using Community Action Plans
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Activities of MURAG in Girls’ Education An official of the Muslims Relief Association of Ghana (MURAG) revealed activities as follows: Improved the rights of children, especially those in secular education Organised sensitive workshops for Muslim stakeholders in 14 districts Increased enrollment and retention of Muslim girls in schools Organised a total of 14 workshops in seven districts in five regions Organised advocacy workshops on the right age for school enrollment and the need toenroll vulnerable children in schools Created awareness on the benefits of girls’ education Activities of TVM in Girls’ Education Mr. Jeffrey Baa-Poku of the True Vine Ministry (TVM) identified the following major activities: Providing hope and redirecting teenage mothers in deprived communities in Ghana Using research, counselling and health education to improve girls’ education Projects like Back-to-School Project and Kids-in-School Project shall start in September 2017 The TVM Scholarship Fund to support needy girls in school is yet to be rolled out Activities of Guidance and Counselling Unit in Girls’ Education Mr. Roland Takyi of the Guidance and Counselling Unit of GES identified the following activities: Provided all districts and schools, especially senior high schools with trained counselors Encouraging counsellors to support children, including girls, with orientation, appraisal and career guidance services Tackling cases of abuse and corporal punishment in schools and institutions Activities of ActionAid in Girls’ Education Sumaila Abdul-Rahman of ActionAid stated the following activities: Formation of boys and girls camps Working with the beneficiary districts to create girl-friendly learning conditions in schools, including the supply of classroom infrastructure and textbooks Using legal procedures to seek justice for abused girls and those into forced marriages Constructed girl-friendly classrooms,including changing rooms and violence-reporting rooms Activities of UNICEF in Girls’ Education              Madeez Adamu-Issah of UNICEF identified the following activities of the Fund: Identified vulnerable groups, especially girls, within the beneficiary communities Supported girls with menstrual hygiene management and child protection services Provided healthcare services to girls living with HIV/AIDS Organised nutrition-related and WASH programmes Involved in the activities of the Complementary Basic Education programme Involved in Inclusive Education activities with vulnerable groups and persons with disabilities Involved in Communication for Development activities like capacity building, sensitisation and partnership with key stakeholders on the right age for school enrollment, retention and completion Organised sporting activities for improved school enrollment and student leadership Working with MURAG to create awareness among Muslim leaders on girls’ education Involved in planning and policy implementation activities (i.e. NESAR, SPAM/SPIP development and ADEOPs) Organised gender-sensitive INSET using the District Teacher Support and Training (DTST) module Supplied teaching and learning materials for improved girls’ education Working with School Health Education Programme (SHEP) and the Guidance and Counselling Unit to provide safe and protective schools for children, including girls Involved in cross-cutting activities like research, documentation, curriculum review and development, and in the development teaching manuals for enhanced girls’ education Shall roll out a programme from 2018 to 2022 to address issues of equity and quality of girls’ education (i.e. using girls as an entry point to promote school enrollment, retention, completion and transition; and to improve learning outcomes among girls) Review Questions for Enhanced Performance Each presentation of the organisations on their roles in girls’ education attracted varied questions from the participants, some of which are as follows: What is the nature of the public-private budgetary support to the GEU for girls’ education activities in Ghana? What is the nature of coordination and monitoring activities of girls’ education within the GES? What are the areas of capacity building for teachers as used by the GEU? What is the nature of the website of GEU? What are the outcomes of activities of the GEU in promoting girls’ education in Ghana? What are the policies for promoting girls’ education in Ghana? What is the state of the Girls in Education Policy? What are the timelines for executing plans that promote girls’ education in Ghana? What are the criteria for selecting the districts for STEM programmes? What are the criteria for selecting the beneficiaries of the various scholarship schemes and what are their levels of sustainability? What are the criteria for selecting and distributing educational materials and other packages to beneficiary schools and pupils? What are the mechanisms for avoiding duplication of activities of organisations in the schools? How are the activities of the organisations integrated into the school curriculum? What are the organisations into child protection doing to tackle forced marriage? What are the records on the distribution of counsellors in schools and institutions? How are pupils and students supported in school selection and placement? What is the level of collaboration between school counsellors and girls’ education coordinators? How are the issues of confidentiality and community relations managed in child protection activities of the organisations? How are the girls empowered to give evidence of acts of abuse and sexual harassments? How can the organisations strengthen their network with other organisations in the performance of their functions? What is the capacity and tenure of the girls’ education officers? Planning Activities of the Participants The two-day meeting yielded important points for action and led by Madeez Adamu-Issah of UNICEF, the House decided on the following points as their resolution and the way forward: Efforts shall be made to strengthen the activities of the GEN. Regional girls’ education officers should report the outcome of the Meeting to their directors of education for them to alsoengage the organisations working in their jurisdictions. Efforts should be made to complete and to share copies of the map oforganisations in girls’ education to promote coordination and monitoring. The schools and districts should be empowered to strengthen their collaboration and partnership activities with stakeholders and organisations. Efforts shouldbe made to allow for proper and timely analysis of allEMIS data on girls’ education. Organisations should be supported to identify the key plans and vision of the GEUto enable them work towards achieving key outputs within the Education Strategy Plan. The Annual Girls’ Education Review meetings should be replicated in all regionsfor key stakeholders like chiefs, opinion leaders and assembly members to also participate. The GEU should develop Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for organisations into girls’ education to follow in the performance of their duties. There is a need for the GEN to link up with agencies like the District Assemblies and the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) for support in promoting girls’ education. Organisations should use role models like opinion leaders, alumni and celebrities to sensitise parents and community members on girls’ education. Local communities and schools should be sensitised on the maintenance and protection of school facilities at all times. The issue of decentralisation in education should be made to work. Obnoxious beliefs on girls’ education should be identified and revised. Civil society organisations should be effectively involved in girls’ education. National girls’ education officers should be supported to effectively coordinate and to monitor all girls’ education activities in the regions, districts and schools. Every activity on girls’ education in schools and at the districts should correlate with the objectives of GEU/GES and MoE. Girls should be encouraged to do STEM courses in schools, colleges and universities. Issues of girls’ education should be backed by policy. Conclusion It is not the case that the writer has been briefed or has read all of this stuff somewhere.He did witness proceedings himself and without any shred of equivocation, he stands to say that majority of development partners and organisations operating in education in Ghana are doing well. As we applaud the good performing ones, we appeal to those that have not yet registered with the GEU/GES to do so and to be part of the Girls’ Education Network as soon as practicable. By Anthony Kwaku Amoah The writer is an educationist and a public relations officer at the Headquarters of Ghana Education Service. E-mail: [email protected]]]>