Ghana’s Education Minister, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh says his position as an Education Minister is just another opportunity for him to affect the lives of the poor and deprived people and not the wealthy in society, ABC News can report.
At a meet-the-press session in Accra on Wednesday, the Minister said due to the Free Senior High School Flagship policy of the Akufo-Addo administration, a lot more deprived kids have been offered an opportunity to continue their basic education, a situation which hitherto, did not exist.
According to the Manhyia South Member of Parliament, “If you are far away in Nakpanduri and you have an exciting girl there with all the deprivations and all the poverty statistics and that child has been able to get 6,6,6 why shouldn’t I put that child in the best girls school so that probably the sources there can help that child for a better future. Should I confine that child to only schools in her community?..Good schools don’t exist everywhere,” he said.
He added, “At least let the poor government schools have a place in the government secondary schools. And so when I hear comments like, this school how come the car park is empty this weekend, it tells you the rich are saying the poor should not have been in this school but because of this government the poor are here so when we go to the car park, we’re not competing with who is driving the latest car. Thank God for that. I’ll keep saying I’m not a Minister of Education for the rich, I’m a Minister of Education to give an opportunity for the poor to also come up. And so we have fantastically worked on the equity issue”.
“In 2017, for our best 55 schools, 30% translated into 10,342 places. Not only did we fill those places with Junior High Schools, from public areas, but for the 70%, every school competed for that same space. And so for the good ones from the Public schools, they could get chance in normally and we will top it up with the average ones as well, so instead of 10,342 we were able to pick from public schools 15,487 so that we can say for those who went to the big schools they occupied 45% of the places in the best 55 schools. that is why are car parks are empty, we are going to empty it even further” he stated.
Mr Opoku Prempeh in his delivery said his continuous emphasis of equity in the country’s educational system is to ensure that all students get access to an equal education regardless of their background.
“Because sometimes the best schools are not doing anything for our kids. If you take all the people who get 7 ones into your school and then come out with 8 As, probably you have done nothing. That is why the emphasis of equity is so dear to some of us. If you think you are a good school, bring an average student up and let him also become better, that is the whole point about society, caring for each other. so we would not allow the situation where the good schools will select the best student fo BECE and come and tell us they’ve got the best students for University…a society that cannot care for the weak cannot support the rich when the weak starts attacking them” he said.
Mr. Opoku-Prempeh further noted that his emphasis also stems from the country’s commitment to the goal four (4) of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) which borders on the need for every child to get access to secondary education by the year 2030.
“We have committed ourselves to the SDG goals, SDG goal 4 has a target of a right to secondary education for every kid by 2030. The constitution that we operate in this country emphasises the right to higher levels of free education. You can’t have your President Chair SDG with the target that every kid should have a right to higher education and you won’t reform and build enough to get every kid there”.