Progressive Intellectuals (PI) is a registered non-profit organization focused on advancing the ideals of social democracy for national development.
Membership is drawn from all tertiary institutions in Ghana. PI periodically analyses national policies to draw the attention of duty bearers to gaps in policy and alternatives for solving specific national development challenges.
It is in this vein that PI instituted a discussion series on the recently launched manifestos of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP). This opinion piece is a comparative analysis of the manifestos in the sub-field of interventions in the education sector.
Drivers of Change
Education is a tool for human capital development. In order words, it is through education that every nation is able to produce teachers, doctors, nurses, engineers, accountants and other professionals for national development.
Countries all over the world, introduce educational policies or interventions with the view to improving access to schooling and the quality of education. Research conducted in developing countries such as Ghana, Kenya and Malawi has revealed that good educational policies or interventions have at least three drivers of change.
The first driver of change in education is referred to as supply-side policies or interventions. They include the provision of physical infrastructure, provision of financial resources, provision of teaching and learning materials, and training schemes for teachers.
The second driver of change is called incentive policies or interventions and they cover incentives for students and teachers. Incentives for students aim at improving access to education as well as motivating students to learn. Some of the incentives for students are allowances, free education, free meals, and free uniforms. Incentives for teachers, on the other hand, seek to motivate teachers to work hard and to retain them in the classroom and they include the provision of allowances and credit facilities.
The last and third driver of change is participatory and community management interventions which deal with government engagement with Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs) and the community. The purpose of the engagement is to improve the involvement of parents and the community in education as well as enhance the management of education.
It is important to note that all the three drivers of change need to be combined in order to achieve quality education. In other words, the combined effect of the three drivers of change is high student achievement and improved student learning.
Applying the Drivers of Change to the Manifestos
With respect to the supply-side interventions, the NDC manifesto has better interventions when compared with the NPP manifesto. The NDC intends to provide free WI-FI for schools, increase the budgetary allocation to basic schools and special schools, complete abandoned structures for secondary and tertiary education, provide affordable special needs schools, provide residential facilities for teaching and non-teaching staff, and to set up schools in Zongos and other deprived communities.
In addition, the NDC will establish senior high schools in districts without secondary schools, establish a Faculty of Law in northern Ghana and universities in the six new regions.
The NPP, on the hand, has fewer supply-side interventions and they include the building of sixteen (16) model Senior High Schools in Zongo communities across the country, continuing with infrastructure development across all levels of education, establishing digital library for students and teachers, increasing the manpower resources and teaching facilities and completing the provision of free WI-FI for students.
The NDC supply-side interventions have more substance than the NPP. The NDC also has more specific supply-side interventions than the NPP. It will, therefore, be easier to hold the NDC accountable to the Ghanaian people than the NPP when it comes to supply-side interventions.
With regard to incentive interventions for teachers, it can be said that the NDC manifesto has a lot of incentives for teachers but the NPP manifesto does not even have a single incentive for teachers. Examples of the NDC incentives for teachers are responsibility allowances, abolition of the mandatory national service and teacher licensure examination for graduate teachers, provision of free tablets, automatic employment of newly trained teachers, provision of credit facilities and increment in the teacher retention premium.
Besides, the NDC manifesto has a superior incentive package for tertiary students, unlike the NPP manifesto. The NDC incentives for tertiary students include free technical and vocational education and training, free tertiary education for persons with disabilities, absorption of fifty percent (50%) of the fees for the 2020/2021 academic year, free tablets to facilitate participation in virtual classes, and the extension of student loan to students in private tertiary institutions.
These incentives for tertiary students are missing in the NPP manifesto. What the two manifestos, however, have in common relate to the payment of allowances to teacher and nurse trainees and the abolition of the requirement of guarantors as a pre-condition for accessing student loans.
The third driver of change which is participatory and community management interventions are captured in the NDC manifesto but it is absent in the NPP manifesto. This clearly shows that the NDC is people-oriented and holds in high esteem the principles of participatory democracy. This is in contrast to the elite oriented position of the NPP which privileges the few and marginalises the majority in national development programming.
An NDC government from 2021, will deepen engagement with PTAs and communities in order to improve the involvement of parents and communities in education provision and management to reduce pupil drop out rates as well as teacher absenteeism.
From the foregoing, it can be realised that the NDC has proposed better educational interventions that when implemented will improve the quality of education in the country when compared with the NPP. Stated differently, the NDC has superior commitments in education and should therefore, be voted for on December 7, 2020.
By Progressive Intellectuals
For further information, please contact Prof Awabil on 0246573716).