Education International
Education International

Ghanaian union GNAT showing leadership in ECE

published 18 June 2010 updated 18 June 2010

While the first Education For All Goal is about improving and expanding early childhood education (ECE), not much has been done to meet the needs of young children since the EFA goals were agreed in 2000. This is to a large extent due to the fact that priority was given to primary education by states and the donor community.

Indeed, in developing countries, ECE receives very little attention despite the fact that it has been long recognised to have significant influence on children's health, their readiness to learn, and their ability to overcome social and gender inequalities.

The benefits of ECCE are well known; children attending pre-school will have a bigger potential to learn, cognitive development will be improved, school enrolment will be higher, and school attendance will be better. Education at an early stage has the longest-lasting impact on the future life of individuals.

In the last decade the government of Ghana adopted a National Early Childhood Care and Development policy. Aimed at supporting this important initiative from Ghana, the Danish National Federation of Early Childhood Teachers and Youth Educators (BUPL) started an ‘Early Childhood Development in Ghana’ programme with the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) in early 2002. The objective was to help improve and support the organisation of Early Childhood Educators within GNAT with the aim to promote recognition, prestige and respect for work with children aged 0-6 years. The programme is built on previous cooperation between BUPL and GNAT since the 90s and especially on ‘The Accra Declaration’, the outcome of an international seminar organised by GNAT and BUPL in Accra in 1993. The Declaration formulated the requirements for development of early childhood education in Ghana and has since played a crucial role in the development of preschools in Ghana and subsequently in other Sub-Saharan African countries.

The programme's strategy initially was to motivate and interest educators in private Early Childhood Education and Care centres (ECEC) to establish a union structure at district level in order to develop a local structure which was able to secure better teachers’ wages and working conditions. It has since proved to be crucial for the development of the project that started at the district level with the establishment of a local Early Childhood Educators Association (ECEA).

Since its inception in 2002, the programme has gone through various developments in response to changes in the operating environment, but BUPL and GNAT have always maintained a two-leg strategy: integrating ECE in the union structure and educational/pedagogical development.

BUPL and GNAT are completing their nine year programme, but GNAT is committed to continuing to further the development of early childhood education in Ghana. GNAT is increasingly recognised as a regional leader in ECE and will be well placed to orient, guide and advise neighbouring teacher unions involved in other ECE programmes.

For more information on BUPL programmes, visit the EI Development Cooperation database at: http://www.ei-ie.org/developmentcooperation/en/index.php or contact Morten Brynskov at mb@bupl.dk

For more information on what EI does on ECE, visit the ECE page on the EI website: http://www.ei-ie.org/earlychildhood/en/