SEND Ghana has recommended to the Ghana Education Service (GES) to ensure that all qualified private kindergartens (KGs) are accredited before being allowed to operate.
It said 32 per cent of private schools were not accredited and urged the GES to give such schools limited time, not exceeding one year, to follow the right procedures to be accredited.
Mrs Harriet Nuamah Agyemang, the Senior Programme Officer of SEND Ghana, made the recommendation in Accra at the launch of a report on kindergarten education dubbed: “Education For All: Is Ghana Leaving Kindergarten Behind?”
The study was conducted by SEND Ghana and funded by the World Bank and the Global Partnership for Social Accountability.
The study, which commenced in May 2017 and lasted for three months,
targeted two private and two public KGs per district except for Wa East, which had no private KG.
The study had 118 of 120 schools in 30 districts in the Greater Accra, Northern, Upper East and the Upper West regions.
Mrs Agyemang said the Report revealed that 49 per cent of KG teachers were untrained, and the situation was worse in private KGs where about 76 per cent of teachers were untrained, exceeding GES target of five percent of untrained teachers teaching in KGs.
Based on the findings on untrained teachers, Mrs Agyemang urged the Ministry of Education to create training modules that allow such teachers in the field, both private and public, the opportunity to upgrade their knowledge and skills on how to convey the right content to KG pupils.
She also implored the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies to play a critical role in ensuring that professional teachers were deployed in private KGs in the country.
Mrs Agyemang said GES standards include a sick bay, a minimum plot-size for classrooms and a standard for pupil-classroom ratio of 40:1.
The study, however, found that 14.4 per cent of the sampled KGs did not have classroom buildings let alone meet standard size and structure, and that some buildings were dilapidated with foundations almost falling apart.
It found that 11.9 per cent of KGs did not have furniture and that for those with furniture it was mostly inadequate and inappropriate.
Mrs Agyemang urged government to provide safe and adequate infrastructure equipped with furniture that met standards to enhance access and quality KG education.
“Government must see to it that infrastructure constructed either by the state or private KG owners include appropriate and accessible water and sanitation facilities,” she added.
The study revealed that 22.9 per cent of the KGs do not have access to potable water supply, while 23.7 per cent do not have storage facilities for water due to cost constraints.
On the country’s School Feeding Programme, the study found that 17.7 per cent of the schools are not beneficiaries.
It said 20.7 per cent of the public KGs had higher pupil teacher ratio than the 40:1 pupil-teacher ratio standard for all schools.
Touching on teaching and learning materials, the study revealed that textbook to pupil ratio stood at 0.2 books per pupil, confirming data in the MOE’s Performance Report of 2016, which indicates a decline in textbooks from 0.4 textbook per pupil in 2010/2011 to 0.2 in 2015/2016.
SEND Ghana is calling for a one-time investment in teaching and learning materials for at least all public KGs and private ones operating in impoverished areas to ensure that many children have access to quality KG education.
Mr Samuel Otopah Ntow, the Coordinator in charge of National Private Schools, GES, said even though government was doing a lot on the issue of accreditation, there were still challenges due to the non-existence of endorsed policy to address the situation.
He said for this reason a new National Inspectorate Board had been inaugurated to regulate the operations of private KGs.
He, therefore, urged district officers to go on enrolment drive to intensify education on the importance of education to parents and children to help address the situation.
Madam Frances Mabel Williams, the Adenta Municipal Director of Education, commended SEND Ghana for the study and gave the assurance that government would make available text books for public kindergarten schools during the next academic year.
She admitted that furniture was needed for the kindergarten schools and that even with the ones available they did not meet the hexagonal standard, which was suitable for learning.
Mrs Felicia Agyeibea Okai, the Ga-South Municipal Director of Education, advised SEND Ghana to focus on the positives since the study was mainly about the negatives, neglecting the positives.