Education

Project to bring back dropouts: 70,000 Children returning to school

A four-year national project to reintegrate 70,000 out-of-school children from 29 selected districts in school has been launched.

In addition, the project is designed to improve learning outcomes for an estimated 98,000 children for the in-school mainstream school improvement programme (MSIP).

On the theme: “Getting all children educated through support to schools and communities,” the project, the first of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa, also seeks to improve the quality of education in low-performing basic schools and strengthen the educational sector.

Specifically, the outcomes-based financing project has a focus to improve the quality of education in low-performing basic education schools in the country and build the human capital index of children by letting them acquire basic numeracy and literacy skills.

Besides, it has the objective of improving learning outcomes for the targeted population by re-integrating the out-of-school children into mainstream beneficiary schools as well as improving their retention in the beneficiary schools over a period of two years. 

The project is being funded with a grant of $25.5 million from the Foreign Commonwealth Development Organisation (FCDO) through the Global Partnerships for Result-Based Approaches Trust Fund (G0RBA-TF) and a counterpart funding of $4.5 million from the government of Ghana.

The Senior Presidential Advisor, Yaw Osafo-Maafo, launched the project on behalf of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in Accra yesterday.

In a speech read on his behalf by Mr Osafo-Maafo at the launch, President Akufo-Addo explained that the financing agreement was signed by the Ministry of Finance and the World Bank and declared effective June 21, 2020.

“These 70,000 children will be taken through a robust accelerated learning programme (ALP) known as the Complementary Basic Education (CBE), a nine-month programme, where these children will be trained to acquire basic numeracy and literacy skills through this period,” President Akufo-Addo explained.

He further explained that the children would be re-integrated into Primary One through to Four of the mainstream schools after being assessed by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NaCCA).

President Akufo-Addo explained that the outcomes-based partnership approach was selected by the Ministry, “because it brings together a pool of experts from the government, international donors, social investors and service providers with the sole aim of getting our children back into school as well as collectively supporting our schools and teachers to improve learning.”

Statistics

President Akufo-Addo said data from the UNESCO Institute of Statistics 2020 revealed that 1,028,000 children, aged between six and 17 were out of school.

Out of the number, he said, 283,000 of the children aged between six and 11 were supposed to have been in primary school, while 135,000 aged between 12 and 14 were expected to have been in junior high school and the remaining 610,000 between ages 15 and 17 were supposed to have been in senior high school.

President Akufo-Addo said over the years, the country had made significant progress in improving learning outcomes in schools and getting children back to school through policy and, therefore, described the statistics as worrying.

“Given these research findings and my desire to ensure that every Ghanaian child has the opportunity to access basic education, the Education Ministry, in partnership with key development partners, has carefully designed an outcomes-based financing project,” he explained.

Providing further figures, the President said, statistics from the Population and Housing Census (PHC) showed that a total of 1,215,546 children of school age (four and 17) in the country were not attending school, out of which 942,427 had never attended school.

President Akufo-Addo stated that the research indicated that the Savannah Region had the highest percentage of 43.2 percent of children who had never attended school.

Refreshing

In a welcome address, the Minister of Education, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, expressed delight that through the project, children who were out of school would be brought back to the classroom.

He said the good thing about the project was that those children would not just be brought back, but would be provided with counselling support.

Govt commended

The Education Practice Manager of the World Bank in charge of the West and Central Region of Africa, Dr. Scherezad Latif, commended the government, the Ministry of Education and its agencies for the demonstrated ownership of the Ghana education outcomes project. 

“We are pleased to note that preparatory activities for the fund for the project have already started,” he said.

 â€śToday, even though most children in the world are in school, a large proportion are not acquiring fundamental skills. In fact, 200 million children are not even in school. This is a learning crisis. It threatens countries or countries’ human capital development,” he added.

Exciting initiative

The British High Commissioner to Ghana, Harriet Thompson, expressed delight to be part of “this exciting and transformative initiative”.

She said the project made Ghana the leading country in Africa on results-based financing, saying, “this is the first outcomes-based project in Ghana and now, the largest education outcomes fund in the world”.

Source: Graphic online

Ray Charles Marfo

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