Debates of 28 Jan 2014

PRAYERS 11 a.m.


Mr Speaker 11 a.m.
Hon Members, let me welcome you to this First Meeting of the Second Session of the Sixth Parliament of the Fourth Republic.
I thank the Almighty God for seeing to your wellbeing while you were away in your respective constituencies and bringing you all safely back to the House this morning. It is my prayer that the Almighty God will continue to look upon us with favour and extend His divine mercies to us during the course of this Meeting and the period thereafter.
I am aware that most of you could not have sufficient rest during the Christmas and New Year recess, partly due to the pressure of work relating to political party activities, surgeries and other important

Mr Speaker 11 a.m.
Hon Members, correction of Votes and Proceedings of Wednesday, 18th December, 2013 --
Dr Anthony A. Osei 11 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I need your guidance.
I thought on page 22, the issue came up; and once the Appropriations Bill was being passed in 2013, then it should be the Appropriations Bill, 2013 but it is 2014. This is something that was discussed, but I see it is here as 2014 -- but it was passed in 2013. It should be 2013.
Mr Speaker 11 a.m.
Yes, we corrected it to 2013. You are right.

Hon Members, we are continuing with the correction of Votes and Proceedings and the Official Report.
Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu 11 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I was looking forward to seeing the Votes and Proceedings for the Sitting of the 6th January, 2014. Unfortunately, we do not have it.
Mr Speaker 11 a.m.
Hon Member, what is before us is what we are correcting.
Hon Members, we have a number of Official Reports starting from Wednesday, 11th December, 2013.
Dr Matthew O. Prempeh 11 a.m.
Mr Speaker, I am sorry to draw us back.
Appropriately, you referred the Plant Breeders Bill together with the Biosafety Act to Leadership; but Mr Speaker, you did not give time limit and you did not also direct whether there should not be public hearings on these matters.We do not know because some of us are interested.
Mr Speaker 11 a.m.
Hon Member for Manhyia South, you know my First Deputy Speaker has early on asked the Committee to look at some of the petitions that have been brought to the House. Leadership, I believe would do the necessary consultation, look at the petitions and get in touch with all
Dr Prempeh 11:10 a.m.
Mr Speaker, you are correct. But there are still other agencies which we should advertise for them to come. This is because just yesterday, Mr Speaker, even though they do not have any petition here, some members of the European Union (EU) were telling some of us why the Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are not being allowed into Europe et cetera.
So, Mr Speaker, just as it happened with the Representation of the People's (Amendment) Act (ROPA) and other things, we should do a more extensive --
Mr Speaker 11:10 a.m.
Hon Member, you are now out of order.
Dr Prempeh 11:10 a.m.
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker 11:10 a.m.
We are on correction of the Votes and Proceedings.
Hon Members, I believe the necessary consultations would be done by the Leadership of the House on this matter and then we would find a way forward. This is because, as I said, if you look at the Biosafety Act, that is the law that actually mentions GMOs. So, let them look at it and get in touch with all the interested parties and advise the House accordingly.
We are on Official Reports, so, let us finish with them.
  • [No correction was made to the Official Report of Friday, 13th December, 2013.]
  • Mr Speaker 11:10 a.m.
    Hon Members, I have admitted a Statement for today. [Interruption.]
    Hon Members, we are now on Statements -- item number 3 on the Order Paper.
    I will now call on the Hon Member for Akatsi North and Hon Vice Chairman of the Select Committee on Education to make his Statement.
    STATEMENTS 11:10 a.m.

    Mr Peter Nortsu-Kotoe (NDC -- Akatsi North) 11:10 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I wish to thank you very much for the opportunity to make a Statement on the need for Government and the Ministry of Education to hand over to religious bodies, mission schools for effective management.
    Mr Speaker, formal education began in this country as what was known as “Castle Schools” some two hundred years ago. The education given at the Castle was meant to equip Africans, for that matter, Gold Coasters the needed education for them to work as clerks to the European merchants and as teachers for children of these merchants and their garrison.
    Beyond the “Castle Schools”, the various missionary societies that arrived in the Gold Coast as part of their evangelisation introduced formal education. These missionary groups included the Wesleyan Mission, the Basel Mission, the Bremen Mission, the English Church Mission, among others.
    By 1882, the colonial Government in the Gold Coast recognised the role of the Missions in the establishment of schools
    and therefore, gave legal recognition to the partnership between Government and the churches with the Education Ordinance passed that year.
    Mr Speaker, Government by herself, seeing the role of the Missions in establishing schools and bringing formal education to the people, began to establish schools. So, in 1887, another ordinance was passed to differentiate between Government schools and assisted schools. By this Ordinance, Government assisted schools were financially assisted by Government, while non-assisted schools were run completely by the various church organisations.
    However, Mr Speaker, after independence in 1957, the responsibility of provision of education at all levels with control of all schools was taken over by Government. The result was that all Mission schools became part of the public system under the Ministry of Education with its main agent being the Ghana Education Service managing them.
    Mr Speaker, the 1951 Accelerated Development Plan for Education and the 1961 Education Act attempted to take over the Mission schools but could not succeed much due to public outcry. However, after the 1966 coup d'etat, all Mission schools that were taken over by Government, which were owned by the churches before and after 1952 and which were only temporarily managed at the time, were to be reverted to the churches for permanent management.
    Mr Speaker, the role of Mission schools in the country cannot be overemphasised. Apart from establishing the schools, religious teachings and discipline among the staff and pupils became the hallmark. Pupils and students
    were taught to avoid moral weaknesses. The teacher at the time was more than the guardian and father of the child and had the support of the community to discipline the child. Guidance and counselling became the responsibility of the teacher or the local manager of these Mission schools.
    Additionally, the Missions were responsible for the development and maintenance of the schools under their management.
    Mr Speaker, the moral decadence we witness in this country today is due to lack of serious moral education, guidance and counselling in our schools. According to the Ghana Education Service, there are currently eighty-two (82) educational units in the education system. How these educational units control and supervise their schools these days, is the question.
    Mr Speaker, currently, the educational units are responsible for the posting and transfer of the teachers to a large extent. That aspect of religious and morale education which was one of the core pillars of Mission schools is missing. Nobody seems to be concerned about the moral upbringing of children to instil discipline and the respect for authority in them. There is so much waywardness, now that, as a nation, we need to rise up to our responsibilities before we are overtaken by events.
    Mr Speaker, one legacy that Mission schools left for us, which seems to have died down is the healthy academic competition that existed among them. Parents in communities with multiple Mission schools took into account not only the good moral education or behaviour exhibited by pupils in a particular Mission school, but the academic discipline as well. Some parents made it a point for their children to walk long distances to enable them receive Mission school education. Those of us who went through Mission school education can attest to it.
    Papa Owusu-Ankomah (NPP -- Sekondi) 11:20 a.m.
    Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to make a few comments on the Statement.
    Mr Speaker, the Statement raises an issue that has been raised on previous occasions. But I really think it is not so

    much handing over Mission schools back to the Missions. This is because we no longer have Missions, we have churches. Then it also brings into focus a broad question the management of schools, really, not even the basic but the secondary schools.

    Mr Speaker, as a former Hon Minister for Education, I initiated proposals that would have resulted in the debate on how to manage our secondary schools. But of course, it was politically incorrect; so the debate never started.

    But really, Mr Speaker, if one looks at the so-called well-endowed schools in this country -- talk about the Achimotas, Mfantsipims, the Ghana Secondary/ Technical Schools in the Western Region, even Accra Aca -- every region has its own Bishop Herman. Even in Upper West Region, St. Francis or something.
    Alhaji Amin Amidu Sulemani 11:20 a.m.
    On a point of order.
    My Hon Colleague made a comment that “even Upper West” when he was talking about well endowed schools. I would want to understand the meaning of the words “even Upper West.”
    Papa Owusu-Ankomah 11:20 a.m.
    I am sorry. I withdraw the word “even”.
    I am saying that regions which are sometimes perceived to be underprivileged, with long distances, have well-endowed secondary schools. Every region -- I am just making reference that if one looks at some of these well-endowed schools, 90 per cent -- and I had the statistics; 90 per cent of the entrants attend private basic schools where they pay substantial fees, even higher than some of the fees they pay in the secondary schools.
    So, I asked myself, is it not possible to have an arrangement where some of these schools could generate some resources, so that the meagre resources that we always have to give to educational institutions are concentrated on community schools -- those that need help? And of course, someone said I was elitist. I believe that I was being realistic; and that we must let the little resources that we have achieved maximum effect.
    When it came to distribution of buses, I said, no well-endowed school will get a bus. And Mr Speaker, our alma mater, I had a problem. That yes, the man is a product of our school, he does not even consider us. In my constituency, I had a problem with St. Johns.
    I am saying that, the time has come for our country to be realistic about some of these things and then adopt pragmatic policies that would enable us to let the little resources that we have, go far and enable some public schools that can generate some resources be able to do so.
    Mr Speaker, so, this is rather timeous. I believe that it should lead us to discussions and of course, if we say that, we should give the Mission schools back
    to the Missions. Now, in our country, we are religious but we are not a denominational country. So, when it comes to doctrine, are we then going to say that if one attends a Methodist school, it is a Methodist doctrine that should be applied?
    I am saying that all these issues can be discussed and then we get a certain outcome. This is because I know that many of the basic schools in this country that were set up by the Missions are being funded, to some extent, by the churches.
    Hon Evangelist E. T. Mensah would attest to that. In the Methodist basic schools, we had programmes that were put in place; they had funds raised to repair some of these basic schools likewise Catholic and Muslim schools.
    So, Mr Speaker, I believe that this is a timeous Statement but it also raises the bigger question whether we cannot adopt or think out of the box and see how best we can deliver excellence in education.
    I would propose that -- I believe it was along those lines that the Kufuor Administration introduced this model secondary schools where some secondary schools -- at least, one from each district would have all the resources, so that it could serve a fulcrum to promote excellence in terms of secondary schools. We had nuclear farms and satellite farms.
    So, Mr Speaker, I encourage Hon Members to be open-minded about these matters and for Government to also initiate discussions with a view to coming out with a certain framework which would enable us achieve excellence, if that includes giving some autonomy to some basic and senior high schools.
    I thank you, Mr Speaker.
    Minister for Information and Media Relations (Mr Mahama Ayariga) (MP) 11:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, let me thank the Hon Member who made the Statement and to make a contribution to the Statement.
    Mr Speaker, there is no doubt that one of the major challenges of our country today is access to and the quality of basic education.
    Indeed, the quality of basic education, to a large extent, defines the quality of the entire educational system of a country. Countries that have made significant progress have established direct correlation between access and quality at the basic level and the accelerated economic development of those countries. That is why what happens at the basic level, is so important to the progress of any nation. It is for this reason that Governments, all over, make significant investment in basic education.
    We can debate the issues of the role of religion in the provision of basic education, but we cannot fail to appreciate the fact that in this country, religious organisations and groups have played fundamental roles in extending access at the basic level to hitherto unreached communities.
    Even now, in our metropolis, they have been involved in providing access to basic education in most cities. Throughout history, many of us have had the opportunity to attend basic schools that were either established by the Catholic Church, Pentecostal or any other religious groups, and I believe, in this House, many can attest to the quality of the foundation that we all had, attending those schools.
    But now, we have a situation where Government is actually partnering with religious groups in providing access to basic education. A Mission can on its own establish a fully-operated, run and financed basic education school once it is certified by the Ghana Education Service (GES).
    However, the situation that we have is that, many of them, given the number of schools that they have, are unable on their own to fully finance these schools and that is where Government has partnered with them, so that the teachers and the cost of running the schools are absorbed by Government.
    For this reason, GES regulates the posting of teachers, the transfer of teachers and collaborates closely with the Missions on the appointment of the heads of those schools, so that there can be some relationship in terms of the doctrine of the Mission and the importance of maintaining a curriculum that reflects broader social and national interests.
    The Missions themselves have education units that work closely with GES to achieve that and I think the present framework works well.
    Mr Speaker, I have no doubt that the private sector is beginning to play, indeed, a major role in providing access to basic education. It is indeed, true, that if you look at the records of those who are able to make it to senior high school (SHS), you would see that most of the people who pass the Basic Education Certificate Examinations (BECE) and get into SHS have a foundation in private basic schools.
    Even in rural and poor communities, parents are beginning to prefer to send their children to private basic schools. As the maker of the Statement said, it is important for us to begin to have a national debate on the role of private provisioning of basic education in this country.
    When I was also at the Ministry of Education as a Deputy Minister, I insisted on the Ministry having a whole outfit that pays attention to the increasing rate of establishment of private basic schools and the extent to which the State can collaborate with them in a way that we are collaborating with the Missions to be able to provide support to people who are making investments in private basic schools, and parents are increasingly expressing interest in assessing those services.
    I believe, Mr Speaker, that it would address fundamentally the challenges that we have today in relation to the size of the State. I did not want to use the word “Government” because people tend to misconstrue -- When you talk about Government, they look at the political appointees. But when we speak of Government broadly, we are looking at Government, its agencies, its departments and so on.
    If you look at Government, you would find out that the largest is the Ministry of Education. The reason is that, it is the largest number of teachers that Government appoints and pays from the public purse and that is affecting public expenditure.
    I think that as we move towards a full middle income economy, and as we fight and win the battle against poverty and many more people are out of poverty, the State should begin to rethink about the relationship between it and the citizen in terms of access to certain basic services.
    The shared responsibility would give the private sector the impetus to be able to play a significant role, so that Government would concentrate on providing the poor, the vulnerable and those who on their own cannot have access to these basic services.
    Mr Speaker, there are modules in the world of how the State and the private sector can collaborate in terms of providing services such as education. There are countries where what they do is that, Government sets up the institutions and the State contracts the management of those institutions to either religious groups, or private sector groups and then Government concentrates on monitoring the performance and the output of those institutions.
    That way, we combine the efficiency and effectiveness of private sector management in the provision of public services. I think that when this debate begins, as it is being called for, all these options would be considered as we try to module a system for the management of basic education that addresses funda- mentally the challenge of quality.
    I think it is important for us to have this debate, not necessarily on the issue of the moral training that one undergoes in Mission schools, but most importantly, to address what is more fundamental to us in this country, which is the quality of the management of pubic basic schools.
    I cannot understand why in a rural community, one would find a private public school operating usually in a ramshackle building and a public new school operating with teachers posted there under the GES and yet, at the end of the year, when you look at the results, you would see that more of the children who attend the private ramshackle basic school produce far better results than many of our public basic schools. The key issue here is the management and the leadership in those schools.
    While we would work to address the quality of leadership of the heads of our various basic schools, I think a debate like this that provides opportunity for
    Ms Rosemund C. Abrah (NPP -- Weija/Gbawe) 11:30 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to contribute to the debate on the floor on Government handing over schools to Missions.
    Well, I thank the Deputy Minister who spoke last, for admitting at the tail end of his submission that there is the need for a debate on the issue. I would like to go along that line as suggested by the Hon Papa Owusu-Ankomah.
    I wish to highlight on the moral decadence, higher academic performance and remuneration of teachers.
    Beginning with the moral decadence of students, the presentation of the Statement somehow suggested that mandatorily when schools are handed over to the Mission schools, the problem of moral decadence in our society would be eradicated or somehow solved. But then, with the admonitions given by various Members who spoke, you would see that there is more to it. This is because I find it, for instance, the current circularisation of the State is also contributing to moral decadence.
    These days, one cannot force a child attending school to just imbibe some religious disciplines or doctrines. Parents are now saying the children should be left free. So, we look at the attendance. That is why I say we need to call for a debate.
    Now, the mode of admission into the Mission schools, children who are admitted to these Mission schools, are we going to say that if it is a Methodist School, we are going to admit only children from Methodist parents? That is why I mentioned circularisation. Mission schools are there but more often than not, we get students or pupils coming in who are not believers of that faith, whether Methodist, Catholic or whatever. So, that is an issue that needs consideration and perhaps, more debate.
    What about the issue of private schools? If we think our public schools are churning out students who are not morally upright, as I can put it, then there is the need to influence them with the Mission schools. What about the private schools? What do we do about the children attending private schools who may not have the benefit of being influenced or “indoctrinated” by these Mission schools?
    Now, the attr ibutes of higher performances in Mission schools, yes; those of us who passed through the Mission schools can attest to it. But then the difference here is that, these days, it calls for some policy changes. This is because when we hand over the schools to the Missions or churches, we cannot allow them to do what they did in the past, for instance, repetitions.
    In the past, students who were underperforming were made to repeat their classes. Now, there is a Government policy through the Ministry of Education to the Ghana Education Service (GES), which forbids repeating children who have failed. So, how do we synchronise this Government policy with a Mission school, which would like to perform by repeating children? That is a very big question we have to look at.
    We have the saying that “authority goes with responsibility”. The cry for handing-over schools to Missions always end in a stalemate because of payment of teachers. Are Mission schools prepared to pay their own teachers, because, I repeat, authority goes with responsibility? If Government is continuing to pay teachers in the Mission schools, then Government policies must be adhered to, which at times conflict with the expected performances that we expect at the Mission schools.
    We see the Statement to be timely but we would want to emphasise that the present framework of education is very healthy as was observed by one of the contributors. The Statement suggested that it seems the Education Directors and the Directorates have heavy burdens on them and thus they must shed off some of the load to the Mission schools.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:40 a.m.
    Hon Members, can we have some order, please?
    Yes, go ahead.
    Ms Abrah 11:40 a.m.
    There is a healthy liaison existing between the Mission schools that have their offices and they liaise with the various District Directorates. So, it is not true that GES should be made to shed off its administrative burden onto the Mission schools. In fact, if there is a debate, some of us can testify and give some of the challenges that existed when the schools were wholly administered by the Mission schools.
    With these few words, Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity.
    Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka (NDC -- Asawase) 11:40 a.m.
    Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement ably made by our Hon Colleague from Akatsi North.
    Mr Speaker, the Statement is coming at the most opportune time and I think it has to be referred to the Ministry of Education for the debate to start, as was suggested by my Hon Senior Colleague from Sekondi (Papa Owusu-Ankomah).
    Mr Speaker, management of education in our country, especially, the second cycle schools is of great concern. The issue of who plays what role is a very important one and Mission schools have done so well in the past and they continue to do very well in the provision of secondary education and even basic education.
    My only concern is that, if you look at the recent past, some of the concerns that came up, that has to do with some of the Mission schools coercing the people into religious activities that do not conform with their religious background, is of great concern to us. I believe that in our debate to find a middle cause and a solution to these challenges that we are having, we should have at the back of our minds, some of our neighbours like Nigeria, the way they have done it and challenges that are confronting them today.
    Mr Speaker, clearly, if you look at our Constitution, precisely, article 17 (2) and (3), talking about the issue of discrimination, we need to be very careful. In some of our neighbouring countries, what they did -- Methodists are going to Methodist schools, Catholics are going to Catholic schools, Ahmadiyyas are going to Ahmadiyya Moslem schools, the orthodox Moslems are going to Moslem

    schools.They get indoctrinated in a manner that, when they come to join the general society, it is difficult to accommodate one another, and I think our model has served a very good purpose until now.

    When we begin this debate, one of the major concerns for all of us should be, how we do it and structure the schools in a way and manner that integrate us, so that it does not disintegrates us into smaller silos that would end up trying to fight one another either at the university or in the general society.

    Mr Speaker, I happened to attend Tamale Secondary School which was not purely a Mission school, but we had a system that I thought was very accommodating of one another.

    On Fridays, we normally go for lunch at about 1.30 p.m., but because the Moslems would go and have their Friday prayers, and we go for lunch at 2.30 p.m. Then on Sundays, we normally go for breakfast at 7.45 a.m., but because our Christian brothers and sisters would go to church, we had breakfast at 9.00 a.m.

    It helped many of us to learn to accommodate one another and I believe that in our discussions, we should have at the back of our minds that, we have had very excellent Methodist schools, Catholic schools, Ahmadiyya schools and many others that have served very useful purposes where one goes to find people from other denominations in those schools.

    I believe this is one good thing this country has done, and in our quest to give back or to share the responsibility of running the second cycle institutions with the Missions, we need to debate this very clearly. My suggestion is that, when the debate starts, one of the major things that

    we need to do is, to have religious time. When we say religious time, we mean the Christians could be observing Christian religion teachings while the Moslems or other religions could also be having their teachings on the same campus. It is religious time, so everyone stands to whatever he or she believes in.

    In that case, we would not have a situation where SDA schools would say, if you are a Methodist and you are here, forget about your Methodist and only join SDA; and then the Ahmadiyya schools would say that, if you are a Christian and you are here, the only way is to come and perform Moslem activities. I do not think in doing that we would be able to harmonise and integrate our society.

    But I think, as my Hon Colleague, Papa Owusu-Ankomah rightly said, this is something we are all debating on, so that we would be able to find a common ground and some understanding on how we can get these Missions participate actively and fully in the running of the second cycle institutions that they themselves originally started; and I believe that it would serve this country a very useful purpose.

    I thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity.
    Majority Leader (Dr Benjamin B. Kunbuor) (MP) 11:50 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, this is a very useful Statement which has been made and I am particularly happy that Hon Colleagues have asked for a wider debate in relation to this all-important topic.
    The issue about the more efficient management of schools by religious and missionary institutions has come up time and time again, and that makes it a welcome call when people are asking that we should perhaps, revisit the old good days in which these schools were effectively managed.
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:50 a.m.
    Thank you very much.
    Hon Members, I think we have had a very interesting Statement this morning and contributions have been very far- reaching.
    I would want to direct that the Table Office makes available a copy of the Statement together with contributions made by Hon Members, to the Ministry of Education for their attention and necessary action.
    If I may also add, I have noticed a certain trend, at least, in my constituency, Cape Coast, where a lot of these Mission schools make room for students who belong to other religions to have the opportunity to exercise their rights as belonging to those religions. For example, Holy Child School is a Catholic school, but I am aware that Moslems there are allowed on Fridays to have their prayers and so on and so forth. They also allow Protestants to get their bit. If that trend would continue, I am sure that it would help us to solve some of these problems.
    On that note, I would like to find out from the Hon Majority Leader what is next.
    Alhaji Muntaka 11:50 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, the Hon Majority Leader has just stepped out. Mr Speaker, I would want to draw your attention and I would want to come under Order 73(1).
    Mr Speaker, with your indulgence, I beg to quote 11:50 a.m.
    “A Member may, at the time appointed for Complaints of Contempt of Parliament under the provisions of Order 53 (Order of Business) bring to the House any
    complaint of contempt of Par- liament, provided he has previously notified Mr Speaker.”
    Mr Speaker, I am coming under Order 30(2) and with your indulgence, I beg to quote 11:50 a.m.
    “Any act or omission which affronts the dignity of Parliament or which tends either directly, or indirectly to bring the name of Parliament into disrepute.”
    Mr Speaker, I am raising this in connection with one of my Colleagues, Hon Agyen Frank Boakye of Effiduase/ Asokore --
    Mr First Deputy Speaker 11:50 a.m.
    Hon Majority Chief Whip, I would prefer that this matter is raised while the Rt. Hon Speaker himself is in the Chair. I would prefer that it is done that way.
    Alhaji Muntaka 11:50 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, respectfully, I oblige. [Interruptions.]
    Mr Speaker, having regard to the Business that we have today -- we were supposed to take the Plant Breeders Bill through the Consideration Stage, but there are issues that need to be discussed with regard to the Bill.
    Therefore, I beg to move, that this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10.00 o'clock before noon to enable Leadership look at the issue of the Plant Breeders Bill.
    Mr Daniel Botwe 11:50 a.m.
    Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.
    Question put and Motion agreed to.
    ADJOURNMENT 11:50 a.m.

  • The House was accordingly adjourned at 12.00 noon till Wednesday, 29 th January, 2014 at 10.00 a.m.