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Uneducated citizenry is like a pitch any game can be played on it. Illiteracy is what has given the politicians in Ghana the chance to fool so many people for so a long a time.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Mixed Reactions To Government’s 3-Year SHS Duration Decision

By Paul Akweterh Mensah

PUBLIC reactions to the government’s decision to revert Senior High School (SHS) duration to three years are mixed.

To some it was welcome news whilst others disagreed with the new twist.

In Accra, Mr Otinkorang Ankrah, a parent, told the Times that the decision would not augur well for the mental, physical and intellectual readiness required to usher SHS graduates into the tertiary level.

He said the four years duration afforded students adequate time to cover the syllabi and ample time to prepare for their final examinations.

The system, he said, mitigated some of the challenges posed to teaching and learning for students of the Senior High School’s final examination.

Mr Ankrah explained that the four-year duration catered for various students’ needs, especially when some needed more time to catch up with others who were academically advanced.

With the current development, he said, academic standard was likely to decline.

Madam Janet Ofori, a trader at the Ministries Area in Accra, was against the decision, saying it would not impact meaningfully on students’ academic performances.

She said the four-year duration should be maintained to help prepare students adequately to meet the requirement set out at the tertiary level of education.

Miss Stella Appiah, a second year student in an Accra SHS, said the decision was insensitive to the plight of students since they needed more time to complete what she described as “the voluminous syllabi”.

Ms Appiah was of the view that students in the country must be involved in decision making, especially student related matters, saying that in such critical matters students’ input must be solicited.

Mr Kwame Bonsu, a businessman, commended, the government for the decision, which he said, would mitigate some hardships parents went through in meeting school needs of their children, especially with the payment of fees.

Mr Bonsu said the four-year system was a waste of resources and time since parents had to meet students’ school needs for that extra one year.

“The new twist is a respite,” he said.

In a related development, Challenging Heights (CH), a child-centered NGO, has expressed its disappointment with the government’s decision.

In a press statement issued in Accra yesterday and signed by the Executive Director of CH, James Kofi Annan it said the timing was wrong since there was the need to review text books, syllabi and national orientation to effectively transition students to the new system.

It said the National Education Forum, which was held last May lacked wider consultation, since it was decided on and organised within three weeks.

The statement said experts at the forum insisted that the decision to change the four-year duration was already taken before the forum, describing it as a “cosmetic event.”

It said, however, that in spite of the decision, stakeholders should work harder to ensure the provision of quality education for students, especially those from deprived background to enable them to access good SHS and university education.

From Kumasi, Kingsley E. Hope and Louisa Yeboako report that the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) in the Ashanti Region, is not in favour of the decision to revert to the three-year-Senior High School duration.

Mr Abraham Kwaku Bonsu, Ashanti Regional GNAT Secretary, said the first batch of the four year students are yet to come out and there would be the need to assess their performance.

He said anyone who had been frequenting the offices of the West African Examination Council (WAEC), would attest to the fact that the majority of the students who come out from the three-year programme failed their examinations.

Some of them write the remedials three times, making it more costly to their parents.

He said educational policy should be enacted by parliament so that no political party could toy with it.

Mr Owusu Sekyere, a teacher at the Kumasi Girls’ Senior High, said, it would put more pressure on teaching because two different batches would be handled.

He said under the four year system, students were doing core subjects and they would be doing electives in the second year, but with the three years, “it means that the first years would do electives right away,” adding that in the next two years, two final batches would be prepared for examinations.

New Times

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