Kindergarten (KG) Infrastructure Deficit in Bono Region

Kindergarten (KG) Infrastructure Deficit in Bono Region

Kindergarten (KG) education holds a crucial and delicate position as the foundation of a country’s educational journey.

Its primary responsibility is to equip young children with the necessary skills, knowledge, and competencies required for formal education.

Metro Lens

In 2007, the government of Ghana included KG education as part of basic education, recognizing the importance of introducing children to formal education during their formative years.

Given the developmental nature of this stage, KG education necessitates a stimulating and conducive environment that allows children to explore and grow academically, socially, and emotionally. This environment is created through play-based learning activities and outdoor playtime, promoting overall development.

KG education is designed to have appropriate infrastructure with ample teaching and learning materials such as toys, pictures, and children’s literature books. These materials and activities foster discovery, creativity, and problem-solving abilities.

However, the Bono Region faces a dire situation in terms of KG education. Eight districts within the region struggle with significant infrastructure deficits in public KG schools. Consequently, young children are forced to study in dilapidated structures or under trees, exposing them to potential dangers from reptiles like snakes and scorpions.

In some cases, existing schools suffer from poor conditions and unsafe structures for teaching and learning. According to statistics from the Bono Regional Education Directorate, these districts have a total of 140 infrastructure deficits in public preschools.

Among these districts, Wenchi Municipality has 62 infrastructure deficits, Dormaa West District has 42, and Dormaa Municipality has 35. The other affected districts are Jaman South Municipality with 29 deficits, Tain District with 21, Banda District with 14, Jaman North District with six, and Sunyani Municipality with six.

Additionally, in rural and peri-urban communities within the region, children often have to walk long distances to attend school in neighboring communities due to the lack of facilities in their own communities.

The infrastructure deficit in KG education has compelled some school authorities to resort to teaching pupils under trees or in dilapidated structures. In some cases, KG one and KG two are combined in a single classroom. This situation causes discomfort for the pupils, making it difficult for them to participate in academic activities due to classroom congestion.

During a visit to some affected schools, authorities expressed that the infrastructure deficit has resulted in a significant reduction in KG enrollment. Cloudy weather conditions also disrupt teaching and learning, forcing them to abandon classes.

Gabriel Antwi, the Bono Regional Director of Education, highlighted that KG education was not initially part of the mainstream basic education system in Ghana, leading to the current infrastructure gap. He emphasized the negative impact of the situation on pupils’ overall development and called for modern and standardized infrastructure to facilitate effective teaching and learning, ultimately achieving high academic standards.

The region, especially the eight districts, urgently requires a total of 1,485 classrooms, representing 52 percent of the required capacity to accommodate the increasing number of KG pupils. However, four districts have an excess of 68 classrooms: Sunyani West (27), Berekum East (20), Berekum West (19), and Dormaa East (2).

In the Bono Region, which comprises 12 municipal and district administration areas, the total KG enrollment is 51,850 pupils, with 1,345 public preschool classroom blocks, representing 48 percent.

The poor learning conditions in which these young children study significantly impact their academic performance, social development, emotional well-being, and overall growth. A report on Early Grade Literacy and Mathematics Assessment (Ghana Education Service, 2015) indicated that by the second year of primary school, most Ghanaian pupils struggle with reading fluency and accuracy. Furthermore, the report highlighted that the rote-based approach to mathematics instruction does not adequately prepare pupils for more complex mathematical concepts in higher grades.

ActionAid Ghana, through its Bono, Bono East, and Ahafo Regional Programme, recognizes the limited access and quality education caused by inadequate infrastructure at the KG level. Since 2001, ActionAid has constructed 21 model KG schools with recreational facilities across the three regions. Ongoing projects in Namasa include four childcare centers and two girl-friendly school blocks in the Tain District. These facilities aim to improve learning outcomes and promote access to quality and gender-responsive public education.

Kwame Afram Denkyira, the Bono, Bono East, and Ahafo Regional Programme Manager of ActionAid Ghana, stressed the importance of reversing budget cuts to the education sector and enhancing domestic resource mobilization to address challenges in the delivery of quality public basic education. He emphasized the need for increased budgetary allocation to basic education to ensure that children in deprived communities are not left behind.

Simon Asore, Executive Director of the NGO Citizens Watch Ghana, emphasized the necessity of a national stakeholders’ dialogue to address the infrastructure deficit at the KG level. Such a dialogue would generate strategies and policies for improving the KG sector. Mr. Asore expressed concern about the poor state of some KG classrooms, particularly in rural communities, as they pose safety risks to children. He called for a conducive learning environment that ensures the safety and well-being of young learners.

Kobina Afena-Sam, the Bono Regional Chairman of the Ghana National Education Campaign Coalition (GNECC), lamented the continued use of old structures built during the colonial era as classrooms for KG pupils. He highlighted the importance of increased involvement and participation of traditional rulers in supporting educational facilities using part of their royalties. He also commended chiefs who have established educational funds to invest in educational improvements in their communities.

To achieve Sustainable Development Goal Four (SDG 4) of ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education for all by 2030, successive governments must make substantial investments in improving educational facilities, particularly at the KG level.

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