The forum organised under the auspices of the District Education Oversight Committee (DEOC) was to discuss and find solutions to challenges affecting the development of education in the district.
Some of the challenges outlined during the forum included low enrollment, teenage pregnancy among school girls in the district, child marriages among school children, indiscipline, harassment of teachers and attacks on school property.
Mrs. Catherine Bankah, District Director of Education, opening the forum, regretted that the district’s school enrollment, especially at the Junior High School level, continued to dwindle in spite of the increase in the provision of the required infrastructure.
She cited child marriages and elopement as part of the factors contributing to low enrolment, and called for effective and urgent remedial measures.
Mrs. Bankah said despite efforts by various stakeholders to end such practices in the district, very little success had been achieved, adding that “it is unfortunate that most parents and even the children involved in such practices do not see the negative effects of it.”
She said there had been a number of instances where the district directorate of education with the support of some organisations had rescued some of these girls who have eloped with men, only for the same girls to return to the men with whom they eloped.
The director cautioned that unless the practice was eradicated in the district, education of the children, especially the girls, would continue to witness a down turn which could be inimical to the development of the district.
Mrs. Bankah noted that apart from lower enrollment in the district, stealing of school items and the constant harassment of teachers posted to the district by residents, were a major disincentive for people to accept postings to teach in the area.
All these, according to her, were issues that affected education in the district, citing a cut in the allocation for the district under the GPEG programme as one of the immediate effects of the negative practices.
Despite these difficulties, she said the district witnessed a minimum improvement in the academic performance of pupils in the last academic year, an indication that with a more effort, the level of academic excellence could be attained.
She, therefore, appealed to stakeholders including the traditional council and opinion leaders to fashion out modalities that would help to stem the negative practices affecting the delivery of education in the district.
Mr. Fidelis Zumakpeh, District Chief Executive of the area, for his part, called for the strengthening of the Schools Management Committee (SMC) that would help to monitor and promote the performance of the school.
He said the delivery of education was a tripod comprising of the teacher, parents, and the pupils themselves, therefore a neglect of any of the three could have dire consequence for education in the district.
From Cliff Ekuful, Daffiama