DISTRICT ASSEMBLIES TASKED TO LEAD EFFORTS AT EXPANDING ACCESS TO EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION
African Development Programme (ADP), has advocated for the lead role by local government authorities to spearhead national efforts in expanding access to early childhood education across the country.In an exclusive interview with Radio Gold 90.5fm (one of the leading private radio stations in Accra) in October 2013, Elsie Eleanora Odonkor, Education and Gender Specialist of ADP asserted that district assemblies are better placed to lead this effort since they are the lead agents of development at the community level.
According to Ms. Odonkor, it should be the policy that every primary classroom block constructed by the district assemblies should include at least one room for either a nursey or kindergarten class to expand access to early childhood education especially in the rural areas. This is because available statistics indicate that over 70% of early childhood centres are privately owned with the rest controlled by the public sector. Given the high costs of attending such private centres, it has restricted access to quality pre-school education and flies in the face of Government's early childhood development policy. The situation is further compounded by the shortfall of over 12,000 pre-school teachers needed nation-wide to drive the early childhood development agenda. This development occasioned the President of Ghana to decry the deplorable status quo when a delegation of church leaders called upon him at the seat of government recently.
To address this shortfall in human resources, the Education and Gender Specialist tasked the 38 colleges of Education and the sector Ministry to utilise the excess capacity in the teacher training colleges by mounting early childhood development training since the current model early childhood training centre in Kanda, Accra is a far cry from leading any serious efforts in addressing this shortfall. She admitted that with the withdrawal of allowances for teacher trainees, it imposes additional difficulty in attracting and retaining prospective trainees in an area such as early childhood care. Thus, Ms. Odonkor appealed to the district assemblies to pursue a deliberate strategy of sponsoring a certain number of students from their locality to attend colleges of education within their community, especially with assemblies in deprived areas which are lagging behind in the attainment of Education for All (EFA) and Millenium Development Goals.