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[ACCRA] The government of Ghana has finalised its education reforms and given a much-needed boost to the role of science and technology in schools.

The reforms, which have taken two years to prepare, were announced last week (12 June) by the coordinator of the National Education Review Inspectorate Committee, Comfort Asomaning. They are intended to address both a lack of resources for science teaching and poor training in science for teachers.

For the first time, students at kindergarten and primary level will be taught science, and in local languages.

At secondary level, the emphasis in science teaching will be on innovation and problem-solving.

Under the reforms, the private sector will contribute to private colleges and technical institutions in a bid to supply the scientific skills needed by industry.

The cost of the reforms has been allocated in this year's national budget, but the sum has not been disclosed.

The reforms were developed by a committee consisting of experts from government, education, science and the private sector.

One of its recommendations is already operational — the National Inspectorate Board, which is controlled by the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports but is independent of the Ghana Education Service (GES). The GES is an agency of the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports and is responsible for implementing education policy.

Asomaning told SciDev.Net that the board will carry out random checks to ensure that schools adhere to the new guidelines and that it will formulate, set and enforce standards in every school.

She said that, in recognition of the role of information and communication technology (ICT) to improve standards in education, the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport has already created science resource centres in selected schools to run practical courses.

So far there are 110 of these centres. Each serves a cluster of schools and transport is provided for more distant schools.

Asomaning said that the ministry is in the process of establishing the National ICT and Science Resource Centre, which will coordinate the activities of all resource centres in secondary schools by mid 2008.

But the Greater Accra regional chairman for the National Association of Graduate Teachers in Ghana, Angel Kabonu, told SciDev.Net that his organisation has reservations about the educational review.

He said that more attention should be paid to Ghana's inadequate teacher-pupil ratio — typically one teacher for about 70 students.

Kabonu also wants the government to place a new emphasis on science in teacher training.

He called for science-teaching methods to become more laboratory-based by increasing the number of science resource centres to cover all 450 secondary schools in Ghana.