By: Abdul-Mumin Ahmed, Communications Officer
The Management Unit, of the Ghana Complementary Basic Education Programme, organized a regional workshop in Tamale on ensuring smooth transition and successful integration of the CBE learners into the formal primary schools. The workshop which took place on the 19th of May 2014, and had the attendance of District Chief Executives, District Coordinating Directors and the District Directors of Education in the CBE beneficiary Districts, as well as Implementing Partners of the CBE Programme, was necessary, following the eight months implementation of the programme into the first cycle. Having implemented CBE in deprived districts for close to the end of the first cycle, it become very important for stakeholders to meet and discuss on how to get learners who will be graduating and will be integrated into the formal school system by September, 2014.
The Ghana Complementary Basic Education (GCBE) Programme is a nation-wide programme that provides complementary education in the mother tongue to out-of-school children within the ages of 8 and 14 years in underserved and hard to reach communities in Ghana for a nine month cycle. With the support of the Department for International Development (DFID), the Government of Ghana partners with key Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and other education stakeholders to implement complementary education in targeted districts in Ghana. DFID is sponsoring the programme for the initial three years (2013 to 2016) with the aim that the Government of Ghana will take over sponsorship of the programme after 2016. Preparations towards implementation of GCBE for the first cycle started in October 2013 in 32 districts in Northern, Upper East, Upper West and the Brong Ahafo Regions. Evidence from implementation of the programme by SfL, where it gains its root from reveals that out-of-school children after undergoing this cycle of training, becomes functionally literate in numeracy and literacy and are able to join at least primary 3 of the formal school.
Coming to the end of the first cycle, it becomes an overwhelming issue of concern to stakeholders on how to ensure that these learners do not graduate from the CBE programme and become school drop outs, as a good number of the communities do not still have access to formal schools. Stakeholders deliberated at length on the many barriers that potentially could bar learners from getting integrated into school. Notable among the identified barriers included; socio-cultural demand side barriers, child labour, household migration, long distances to schools in most deprived communities and inadequate teachers and school infrastructure. For example, a total of 932 communities comprising of 176 CBE classes have no access to primary schools within a 3km radius and over 4,573 learners do not have access to primary schools within a 5km radius. In view of the barriers to transition of learners into regular classrooms, participants of the workshop, worked in groups and devised short term pragmatic strategies to smoothen successful integration of learners into formal schools. Some short term strategies such as providing learners with support services such as bicycles to aid transportation, provision of needy students’ scholarship to deprived CBE learners and enrolment campaigns and awareness creation among parents on issues of transition and integration were identified as key short term practical strategies that will be used by districts to ensure that the education of the CBE learners does not end after the CBE programme. It is thus, envisioned that implementation of these strategies by educational actors in the districts will result in complete integration of all CBE learners into regular classrooms. This is ultimately directed towards ensuring that all out-of-school children have the opportunity of attaining the highest level of education they are capable of achieving.