As the world prepares to rally around a new set of goals to improve lives and protect the planet, we must be ready to own the Seventeen goals and localize them to fit our situation so as not to wander in the wilderness of global efforts to ensure fair distribution of development. All Seventeen of the Sustainable Development Goals which have been adopted by the World leaders are relevant but I believe at the core of all these is the non-negotiable need for our leaders to make quality education accessible to all children.
Prior to the 2012 general elections in Ghana, Education was at the heart of the campaign promises, a development I consider as positive and an improvement in the trend of our political campaigns. Education is undoubtedly the key to the development of Ghana and indeed any other country.
Education is the most powerful catalyst for development in the years ahead, serving as a bridge from Poverty to Prosperity, from deprivation to abundance, from diseases to good health. Education provides the surest guarantee to achieving all the other priorities of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Ghana’s educational sector continues to receive attention from successive governments but as to the question of sufficiency, the quality of our education sector gives a mirror reflection of that. Free and compulsory education, though essential, may not be enough to ensure that all children of school going age are actually in the classroom. We still see thousands of children on the streets when they should be in school, thousands of children are in the farms helping their peasant parents and guardians. Educational initiatives must leave no one behind – not the poor or disadvantaged, and not the rural child.
While applauding government for introducing 200 Community Day Senior High Schools to address the issue of access in some remote areas, it is important to lay bare the facts that children in most rural communities are still struggling to even receive standard education at the Primary and junior High school level. Beyond getting children into school, efforts must be made to ensure the quality of the education they receive. Setting targets based on quality rather than quantity will be difficult but not impossible. WE CAN DO IT.
As we embrace the Sustainable Development Goals, we must double our efforts in the area of education. Experts estimate that providing for a proper education system requires at least 5% of a country’s GDP and usually about 20% of public spending. I sincerely doubt if Ghana has the capacity to sustainably undertake such expenditure without completely neglecting other critical sectors. For the time being, relying on development partners remains an option and we must make frantic efforts to get more investors and philanthropists into the sector.
District assemblies must also localize the vision of attaining quality education. The central government alone cannot facilitate the attainment of the vision. Civil Society Organizations and all other partners must augment government’s efforts. For many of my friends and me, our lives testify how access to education can transform lives hence our resolve to Advocate and Volunteer towards improving education. There is a transformative power in Education. ACCESSIBLE QUALITY EDUCATION is the PILL to cure POVERTY, DISEASE and INEQUALITY.
ERIC EDEM AGBANA, founder of the United Volunteers Network and a former SRC president at the University of Ghana.