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Hon. Sylvester Tornyeavah, Keta Municipal Chief Executive

Sylvester Tornyava to step down: Anlo Youth Council

The Anlo Youth Council has called on the Keta Municipal Chief Executive, Sylvester Tornyava, to step down over what they call the falling standard of education in the municipality.

The Council says before Sylvester Tornyava, became MCE for the area; BECE results have never been below 50% pass rate. But since 2009, when he became the MCE, the Municipality recorded above 50% only in 2010, hence, their call on the MCE to resign with retrospective effect from January 1, 2016.

This came to light at the consultative meeting on the falling standards of education in the Keta Municipality. But the MCE, in an interview with XYZ News says the Council got it wrong; therefore, he will not resign.

Full statement below

Please accept our gratitude for the invitation to be part of this consultative meeting. This is the third such meeting on education since 2011 when we first sounded the alarm on the declining standards of education and poor BECE results in the Keta Municipality.

Anlo Youth Council (AYC) believes that all societies have problems. However, progressive societies identify their problems, find appropriate solutions, and deploy innovations for progress. It is therefore a tragedy for succeeding generations of Anlos to be caught up in a vicious circle of retrogression. Our expectation from this meeting is that the session will arrive at the root cause and develop corrective actions to stop decline, but most importantly to take collective responsibility towards the accountable implementation of the recommended actions.

The ecology of Anlo naturally determined our society as a human resource economy. We are endowed with resources that require optimum human resource to enable collective wealth creation. Historically, the greatest contribution of Anlo to Ghana has been our human resource. Anlo’s economy was sustained by relevant education and remittances from the educated workforce outside Anlo jurisdiction. The very survival and continuous existence of Anlo is dependent on quality education. Indeed Anlo’s relevance to Ghana therefore comes from Education. It was therefore a regular feature to produce Basic Education Results that fitted into a normal curve.

According to the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, “An educated population is a country’s greatest wealth,”. It is therefore clear that without an educated human resource, the development and wealth of the Municipality cannot be exploited to the benefit of its people. It is even more so, when children at the Basic Levels of education in the KETA Municipality are unable to access the next level of education – Secondary education – which, according to Irina Bokova, is essential for the eradication of poverty.

Thus, she emphasizes, “There can be no escape from poverty without a vast expansion of secondary education. This is a minimum entitlement for equipping the youth with the knowledge and skills they need to secure decent livelihoods in today’s globalized world. It is going to take ambition and commitment to meet this challenge. But it is the only path towards prosperity.”

Taking into consideration the dwindling economic challenges of the KETA Municipality, over the years, it is imperative that the KETA Municipal Authority adopts dynamic and progressive investment in the education of its human resource at the basic level. Even the mainstay of Anlo’s economy, fishing, in this 21st century requires scientific and a more educated approach for optimum economic benefits.

From the above, it is painfully obvious that our children’s failure at the BECE is destroying the economic life of the municipality and making the future of our youth non-competitive in the market place. As a case for this presentation, out of the 2493 candidates presented last year for the BECE in the Keta Municipality, only 904 achieved an aggregate of 36 or better. This has been the never improving journey from above 50% in 2008 to the all-time low of 27% in 2012.

The decline is particularly noteworthy because of the noticeable trend of good results from the private sector schools as compared to the public schools. Again, there is a qualitative difference between the results posted by the mission schools, which performed better, as compared to the public schools under the authority of the Municipal Assembly.

The objective here is to identify the cause of the problem and not who is to blame. It is, however, important to emphasize that the blame game, in itself, is an admission of lack of effective leadership and/or systems.

The Blame Game
In our bid to understand the nature of the problem, we have listened to various stakeholders as follows:

• The pupils: It’s the teacher
• The teacher: the pupils, parents, lack of compensation and resources
• The parent: The failing system
Anlo Youth Council is of the strong opinion that, the children are merely victims and should not be made a part of the problem. The children from age six are victims of systemic failure.

It is agreed that responsibility of all stakeholders to improve education in the Keta Municipality varies in proportion to their roles, however, accountability lies with only those who are paid to ensure effective teaching and learning in the Municipality. The teachers report to a headmaster, who reports to the circuit supervisor and so on through to the District Director of Education and to the Municipal Chief Executive who wields the political power.

In his speech at the 2014 President’s Independence Day Awards in Accra, the President H.E John Dramani Mahama stated clearly that improving the quality of education with the desired result in school performance has been made part of the performance assessment of the Chief Executives in the various assemblies. He further stated unequivocally that chief executives shall be judged by the performance of their schools. Sadly, we cannot vouch for that leadership propounded by the President of the land, and we have resolved that our MCE should ultimately be accountable for the bad results we have now.

The Root Cause
Based on the fore-going, the AYC believes that even if all the variables are in place, including a full complement of human resource and school infrastructure, the picture is unlikely to be any different from what currently exists. This, the AYC believes, demands an ability to move out of the traditional processes of researching the problem and to allow for a different approach well outside of the usual or the normal in order to find a lasting solution. Quality education throughout the world revolves around well trained people, superior processes and cutting-edge technology. The world has moved beyond inspection as a means of instilling quality into a product. We must have people, processes and technology that guarantee quality results. It takes a leadership of ideas, values, energy and innovation to achieve the excellent results that we seek.

Our Demands
“The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them” – Einstein. In our own backyard, this translates to “One does not attempt to free oneself from thorns even while remaining among thorns.”

On behalf of the Youth of Anlo we wish to call on the MCE Hon. Sylvester Tornyeavah to resign with retrospective effect from January 1, 2016. Before he became MCE, BECE results have never been below 50% pass rate. Since 2009, when he became the MCE we recorded above 50% only in 2010.

Since we became aware of this nose dive in the BECE results, we have relied on him to provide leadership in arresting this trend. He has failed to do that. This problem has lived with us since he became MCE and we believe he could have done more.

Secondly, we call on the Director General of the GES to re-assign the Keta Municipal Director of Education with Immediate effect. Throughout the world, when organisations consistently fail to deliver on expectation, the first step is to change the leader. Even though the current director has not been at post for over 2 years, we do not believe he understands and will accept the responsibility for failure at developing our only resource, our people.

The Way Forward
From the above, the problem does not appear to be one of an absence of resources but rather inability to map resources to the desired outputs and outcomes. Conceptually, for the AYC, this means the education system has been on auto-pilot all this while and that the recent trend of poor performances in the Municipality over a 7-year period is a complex issue that cannot be tackled in a reactionary but proactive manner – a long existing problem which demands an immediate action, even while efforts are made in the short, medium and long terms, to reverse the trend and not knee-jerk reactions.

Based on the fore-going, it is the unmitigated belief of the AYC that the only way forward clearly is to think outside the box and take immediate steps to change the face of education in the Keta Municipality.
The steps needed to reverse the trend are planned for the short, medium and long terms. What is needed, however, is that immediate steps are taken to ensure that no school scores zero in the next BECE in 2016

Immediate Steps
Immediately, the AYC proposes to initiate the following steps to arrest the decline in education in the Municipality:

– Subject matter experts in each subject area who will study thoroughly the Chief Examiner’s report over the past 10 years and provide a 6-month plan of action towards the next BECE. Topics taught on a weekly basis must be the same throughout the circuit and subsequently, the Municipality. This will ensure reliable monitoring and evaluation of outcomes.
– A crash programme in all SHS to draft the best students in core subject areas as auxiliary/Peer teachers at JSS level to fill vacant teaching posts.
– Institution of designated subject matter teachers for the JHS final years. They must plan, teach, assess/evaluate or take feedback redesign, plan, teach, examine, assess/evaluate in a continuous spiral mode.
– Subject matter experts ensure that the topic for week one is similarly taught across the circuit.
– Formation of work-teams with a specific target of a subject percentage or aggregate score of pass level.
– Training orientation for subject teachers.
– Get the buy-in of key players in this endeavour – MCE, MDE and Municipal Directorate, School heads and SMCs.

Key objectives at this stage are:
– To ensure all JHS 3 Classes have their full complement of staff and subject teachers.
– That all subjects have designated subject matter experts.
– Subject matter experts organise training/orientation sessions for all JHS 3 subject teachers.
– JHS 3 Classes are taught the techniques of sitting exams and answering exam questions.
– Subject matter experts study and interpret the chief examiner’s report and factor these into the teaching and learning of the JHS3 pupils.
– Subject matter experts study past examination questions papers in order to understand the trend of likely exam questions and help subject teachers prepare students to answer questions in simulated exams (mock).
– Institution of Circuit-wide mock exams for the whole Municipality on bi-monthly basis, using examination answer sheets that follow the BECE system.

Again we appreciate your courtesies in inviting us for this session. The AYC wishes to acknowledge the following persons and groups for supporting the Awadada Task Force on BECE materially and/or financially; Rev. Trinity Doe-Dartey, Hon. Kwame Sepe, Teachers, Headteachers of the various schools and the Circuit Supervisors, Hon. Clement Kofi Humado, and the Keta Municipal Assembly, and the Accra-Anloga-Keta Branch of the GPRTU. We also appreciate the efforts of those who in times past attended our stakeholder fora. God richly bless you all.

The solutions enumerated above are intended to arrest the situation at hand in the short term. The AYC believes that with an effective leadership in place, we can rethink viable solutions to address the current canker in the medium and long terms.

This problem is threatening to destroy us as a people. This is a problem we can solve and this is a problem we must solve. It is obvious we understand the problem and we have what it takes to solve it. It takes action, action and action to arrest this trend.

Thank You.

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