Ghana’s Minister of Education Dr Matthew Opoku-Prempeh, whose New Patriotic Party (NPP) unseated John Mahama’s National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the 2016 polls, is confident his party will be returned to power next year.
The NPP’s success was seen as a result of widespread dissatisfaction with the country’s stagnant economy and poorly managed education system.
Mahama will challenge incumbent president Nana Akufo-Addo in the world’s second largest cocoa producer and Africa’s number two gold producer in elections likely to hinge on the public’s perception of the NPP’s track record.
Top of mind among the electorate would be whether the NPP had turned around the economy and transformed the education system.
Opoku-Prempeh told the annual secondary education policy forum of the Association for the Development of Education in Africa yesterday in Johannesburg that the NPP had introduced a strategy that hugely improved the secondary school pass rate and increased access to education by 43%.
“When we took over government, we engaged with all stakeholders – unions, teachers, parents and students – to share our strategy and plans for an improved education system.
“Involving as many people as possible in managing expectations is a good show of leadership.
“Democracy means that you [government] have to carry people with you when you introduce transformation,” said Opoku-Prempeh.
“There was a high attrition rate of 100,000 students who could not attend school because they could not afford the fees. We had to mobilise funds to push for them to have access to education.
“After coming up with a framework that transformed the education system, our efforts paid off with a 65% pass rate, up from 30%, in three years.”
Among other interventions, Opoku-Prempeh said his government had:
- Introduced skills-based development programmes to address the needs of local industry.
- Addressed bad education outcomes with a new curriculum and improved teaching standards.
- Built 186 new technical schools and a university to produce technical and vocational education training college teachers.
“We needed to motivate teachers because we realised we could not succeed with demotivated educators.”
In turn, teachers strove to make pupils aspirational.
“While the government prioritised education by pumping more funds into the budget, through the Ghana Education Trust Fund, we understood that not everyone could go to university, but everyone still had to work,” said Opoku-Prempeh.
Regarding how confident he was about NPP winning the next elections, he said: “We will certainly be voted back to power next year.”
Asked whether he was concerned about the impact that a loss in the upcoming polls would have on the country’s current education policies, Opoku-Prempeh said: “The citizens of Ghana – the true defenders of democracy and accountability – have bought into the progressive education policies of the NPP-led government.”