The Plight of the Ghanaian Rural Student-The Untold Story

By | January 16, 2017

Education is said to be that very important tool for both individual and national development.
Education is meant to be a right to all children of school going age. But in Ghana it can best be described as a privilege. This is due to the huge disparity between the education of the urban child and that of the rural child. The right to education is hence enshrined in article 25 clause 1 of  the 1992 constitution as follows:
(1) All persons shall have the right to equal educational opportunities and facilities and with a view to achieving the full realisation of that right –
(a) basic education shall be free, compulsory and available to all;
(b) secondary education in its different forms, including technical and vocational education, shall be made generally available and accessible to all by every appropriate means, and in particular, by the progressive introduction of free education;
(c) higher education shall be made equally accessible to all, on the basis of capacity, by every appropriate means, and in particular, by progressive introduction of free education;
(d) functional literacy shall be encouraged or intensified as far as possible;
(e) the development of a system of schools with adequate facilities at all levels shall be actively pursued.

The provision of quality education is premised on a plethora of factors such as;
(1) Good classrooms and other infrastructure,
(2) Appropriate teaching and learning materials,
(3) Qualified and well motivated or remunerated teacher,
(4) Favourable government policies,
(5) Appropriate home atmosphere,

I shall do some exposé on these essentials and the way forward.

Good classrooms and infrastructure;
The most felt disparity in terms of urban and rural education is the infrastructural deficit in the rural schools. These rural students study under very dilapidated structures with very bad conditions. The effort by the government to eradicate schools under trees is highly commendable. This laudable initiative must be vigorously pursued by subsequent governments. In some schools in the villages, a cloud forming in the sky is the worst threat for academic work because the schools have to be closed for the safety of human resources (teachers and pupils). This causes these schools to lag behind especially during the rainy seasons. Another infrastructural problem is the accessibility of the schools. Some villages with no schools have to send their wards to the nearest community that can pride itself of a school. In some instances, the children have to walk long distances to school causing them to be exhausted before the day’s work begins. I remember during my teaching practice at Torve in the Akatsi South district, students from a nearby village have to apply the principle of floatation during the rainy seasons before they can come to school. You might be wondering how such is done. During the rainy season the road connecting the two villages becomes flooded. So pupils after reaching the bank remove their uniforms and place them into a basin. They then push the basin which floats on the water as they swim through. If there should be parity in our educational sector, then good and well furnished classrooms should be provided for the rural child as well.
Also, appropriate teaching and learning materials are indispensable in effective and efficient teaching and learning in our schools.
The issue of inadequate teaching aids in the Ghanaian basic schools cannot be overemphasized. For any effective teaching to be done, appropriate TLMs must be made use of. Virtually all teachers are willing to use such materials to enhance their teaching but the question is whether these aids are available. It is true that teachers can prepare TLMs themselves but the other side of it is the source of funds for such things. We all know very well that government officials need fuel for their cars because of their numerous travels (I even doubt what we benefit from most of such unnecessary expeditions). Why can’t teachers then be provided with what they need for the discharge of their duties. This is so grievous to the extend that schools suffer from lack of CHALK. If this were to be the health sector, I think doctors would always be on strike. The colleges of education can help a lot to fix this challenge in some villages in their catchment areas. Student teachers who go for teaching practice in these deprived schools are tasked by the colleges to prepare TLMs as part of their project works. This TLMs can be sent back to the schools where the problems were identified. This will also help the colleges themselves to decongest their resource rooms. All stakeholders such as government, parents, and the school authorities must work towards solving this menace.

Qualified and well remunerated teachers are very essential in the provision of quality education.
The teacher is the most important asset any educational institution can boast of and for that matter a country without qualified teachers is doomed to fail.. For this reason the teacher is indispensable in the provision of quality education to the Ghanaian child. Unfortunately, most deprived communities lack these necessities in their schools. Pupill teachers have become the only hope to our siblings in such schools. The few that are lucky to have professional teachers are not completely free. This is because most of such teachers do not stay in the communities due to the lack of amenities such as potable water and electricity in such villages. Also there are no acomodation in most of these communities. They rather reside in the towns and report to school everyday with its attendant challenges. Due to the poor remuneration of teachers, most of them have resort to alternative means of generating income. Such means include transport (motorcycle and taxi) and other personal businesses. This badly consumes useful contact hours. Every effort must be made to elevate the status of teachers and this must start from the teachers themselves. The teacher unions must unite to achieve desired goals. They must have one voice as practiced in Canada ((Canadian Teachers Federation.(CTF)). The government must also play its role well by promoting the welfare of teachers. The teachers especially those in the rural areas must be motivated appropriately. Acomodations (teachers’ bungalows) and other incentives will greatly pay off.
Another factor that promotes education is favourable government policies. Ghana’s education over the years can best be said to suffer from politics rather than benefit from policies. The various educational reforms couldn’t achieve the intended objectives due the the poor political will and commitment from successive governments. Politicians are now playing politics with our education but still want to achieve results that other countries are achieving. Hmmm!!! All the levels of our educational system have suffered from such unpopular political inititiatives. The commitment of government to education must be significant because education is the ultimate bedrock for Ghana’s development. The best asset of any country is always the human resource. So Ghana should gear the chunk of her efforts and resources towards the development of her human resource base.

The concept of quality education can never be achieved when the parents and guardians are isolated from the efforts. In virtually all rural communities in Ghana, the indigenes live below the poverty line. This vicious cycle of poverty runs down to the children. It is only a very few that get the opportunity to break that limitation usually through their own initiatives. Due to this impediment, parents are not able to support their wards in school. Also, these people could not have access to relevant information to guide them in their decision making process. This is why the teachers must play a leading role in providing guidance services to both pupils and their parents. The parents must also be empowered to play their roles satisfactorily.

In conclusion, to reduce the numerous social vices such as robbery, prostitution, kayaye and their associated problems, all stakeholders must come together to promote quality education especially in the rural areas. The national cake must be evenly distributed for the marginalized in the society to get their fair share. Human right advocates should venture to champion this constitutional provision for equality to be attained in the provision of education in Ghana.

The writer, Samuel K. Dassi is a newly trained teacher at Avekordome D/A Basic School in the Ketu North District of the Volta Region.