The Minister of Defence nominee, Dominic Nitiwul and the Minister of Education nominee, Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum are up for vetting in Parliament today, Thursday, February 11, 2021.
The nomination of Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum as Education Minister-designate in Nana Akufo-Addo’s second term was met with near-unanimous approval from Ghanaians and was largely considered one of the best performing appointees.
But he will be taking office at a difficult time for the education sector as it is currently contending with the coronavirus pandemic.
Schools recently reopened after a 10-month break and the sector has the additional burden of ensuring students are adequately protected from infection.
Ahead of his vetting today these are some of the issues the nominee is expected to address:
How the education sector is coping with the COVID-19 pandemic
In the wake of the pandemic, Dr. Adutwum is on record as saying bridging the digital divide in a bid to enhance education will be one of his priorities. He has said this divide contributed to worsening inequality in education because less privileged students were left without any form of academic activity for the past 10 years.
The pandemic also brought into focus the cost in education, especially at the tertiary level with a call for the state’s absorption of fees shot down in Parliament to the disappointment of many who are struggling to pay fees.
Consistent leaks of WAEC-administered exam questions
The integrity of Ghana’s external examination has faced consistent scrutiny because of persistent leaks of exam questions and lax invigilation in certain examination centres. In 2020, confidential information on examiners was also leaked during the West African Secondary School Certificate Examination.
Dr. Adutwum has not shied away from criticising the West African Examinations Council and has been opposed to its monopoly. “Why are they not using 21st-century means of stopping leaks and cheating forever? I think they are going to have to sit up,” he said in an interview last year.
The future of the suspended Public University Bill
Though the consideration of the Public University Bill in Parliament has been suspended, stakeholders in tertiary education are demanding the scrapping of the Bill.
Even after consultations, various unions called for the withdrawal of the Bill which seeks to harmonise the finances, administration and governance structure of public universities.
The Bill, when passed, will give the government power to appoint the majority of members of the University Council. The Council then has the power to appoint and fire public university officials. The government is yet to officially comment on the withdrawal calls.
The sustainability of Free SHS policy
The Akufo-Addo administration faced infrastructure challenges in the policy’s implementation which prompted the much-criticised double-track system. But with the resumptions of schools this year, the double-track system for first and third-year Senior High School students has ended after an improvement in infrastructure capacity.
There are still concerns over the funding of the policy and the quality of education the students are receiving within the semester system which the government is maintaining.
Handling of teacher welfare labour disputes
As the nominee prepares to be vetted, the National Association of Graduate Teachers is complaining over the slow pace of negotiations in the 2021 Base pay rate. Strike action from teacher unions has remained an annual occurrence and even in the midst of the pandemic, unions have agitated for better service conditions and pension security.
Follow the hashtag #GhVetting for live updates.