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The cardinal essence of education is to push society forward in positive ways of development and social equity, and its key stakeholders must therefore take lessons from the past and prepare for both current and future situations, Prof. Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang, the 2020 Running mate to former President John Dramani Mahama in the 2020 elections and former Minister of Education, has observed.

She said the COVID-19 pandemic exposed cracks in education which were well known by policymakers, including low reading and comprehension, lack of adequate text books, inappropriate learning environment, inadequate time spent on task by learners and facilitators, inadequate teaching and learning materials.

Prof. Opku-Agyemang made the assertion in a lecture on ‘Rising to Africa’s Education Challenges and Opportunities Post COVID-19 Pandemic’ at the African Development Conference of the African Caucus of Harvard African Law Association of Harvard Law School in the US. The overall theme for the two-day conference was ‘Reimagining Africa’s Growth on our Terms’.

She disclosed, “the pandemic created the opportunity to consider more seriously how to integrate the types of education most African countries operated-traditional and non-formal into what has come to be labeled formal in order to raise the possibility of self-learning, which was sorely needed at the time.”

She was of the view that, though a pandemic is hardly predictable and affects all aspects of life, including education, a country’s preparedness for the unknown depends to a large extent on how the known pitfalls are taken seriously and attended to.

The first female Vice Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast (UCC) reiterated the need for isolated experimental learning, a gender-responsive approach, and a review of the medium of instruction as some critical areas of engagement to address existing gaps and build a ‘more robust system that confronts existing crises and allows us to confront unknown ones’

She maintained that partnerships must be encouraged within private schools, with public schools, and between public and private schools for knowledge, experience, facility, and skill sharing, as well as student collaboration.

The former Education Minister said education is a shared responsibility among Government, community, practitioners, parents, and learners themselves, which demands a clear definition and the support of each key stakeholder for proper accountability and effective engagement, especially in times of crisis.

Prof. Naana Opoku-Agyemang was accompanied by the Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Hon. Samuel Okudjeto Ablakwa. She took the opportunity of the conference to hold meetings and interact with different Ghanaian and African student groupings at Harvard and in the US, and she has since returned home.

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