Here we go
again, dumping down the educational system
It has just
been revealed that the government will lower Senior High School
(SHS) duration to three instead of four years, based on a supposed
full enquiry on the merit, but in reality on a wish to fulfill a political
promise that needed to be kept.
report said that “The Government of Ghana after series of
consultations, debates and conferences, has decided to alter the
duration of Senior High School (SHS) education from four to
three years, starting from this academic year (September 2009)."
of Education, Hon. Alex Tetteh-Enyo, spearheaded the disclosure
for the change in duration. He did not, however, mention the
distinct benefits this fewer years in High School brings to the
the overall budget cost for education will be lowered by one
year’s expenditure. But, this idea that you can save money at
the expense of quality, famously called “bean counting,” is
considered foolhardy n America. In the light of the political
climate today, this seems to be just the case.
question has to be asked: Why the hurry? Is there anything
wrong with the current four years system other than the need for
a political tussle?
these questions in their proper context requires an appreciation
of the prevailing economic circumstances: Where, for goodness
sake, are the jobs! And why the need to hurry some of these
young men and women into a meaningless void of joblessness!
of indiscipline in our streets, you would think the creative
thing to do will be to find use for the extra year as a period
for civic education, if it is really superfluous for tuition
needs; or at least as a period for instilling self-discipline as
you would in a boot camp.
is, as we argue about what to do with the extra school year,
things are happening in our streets.
Robbers deserve “shoot to kill” response,” said the Upper West
Regional Minister the other day in defense of the security
to the minister should be that there is nothing wrong with his
assumption, except one must also verify and state publicly, in the investigation
process of the crime, the years these armed robbers
had in school. The knowledge can serve as a lesson for our
to be precise, has its social costs that are not reflected in
the budget for education. A year less in school or no school at
all has its cost and this can vastly offset any savings gained
across board by the one year down grading.
that kids will be better educated – in less time, same school
building and facilities, same staff, and no transition period
allowed for the new regime - after three years than they were
under the four year phase is a myth. However, myths are always
hard to battle since they operate like ghosts at the core of our
apparent today that the notion for change is not coming form the
kids. It is coming from a political manifesto and from some
within the Teachers Union who under the NPP regime were against
this very change. They are now conveniently for it. And I suppose,
three years from now, should there be a regime change, they
would be against what they support today.
In effect the
teachers are not operating on principle. These lazy teachers
that refuse to go the extra mile to ground and educate these
kids well under the four year system are now leasing them out as
pawns in a game of political “one up-manship.”
consequences will follow when we let the kids out too early.
Unemployment, disillusionment, and disgruntlement will grab them
because we would have by the early release from school
overwhelmed the job market at a faster pace than we are able to
create jobs and opportunities.
Ironically, the sad part
is we know for sure that there are no jobs available. And that we are exposing
not only these kids but the general
society also to a higher risk - the possibility that some will fail to find meaningful space and peace in our midst.
That eventuality, we know, always spells trouble.
Time was when
kids spend more years at the primary, elementary, and secondary
through sixth form stages – a total of 16 years on the average.
But the system had a flexibility that the merit of the
individual student can engage to his advantage and to advance
faster on his own; and not through some wholesale promotion. Some could
finish the process as early as 13 or 14 years. These were the
bright ones. And the late bloomers finished later at a more
now the proposed school year will lower the total from primary
and SHS to 12 years, for those with or without merit.
year system is as rigid as it is wholesale. It is yet to answer what happens to late
bloomers; whether there is tuition life for them after the third
year (not remedial, please). Sadly, it is not even waiting to see and evaluate what
has happened to the 4 year system, or take cognizance of the fact
that the system that produced our best brains of today was not
one of 3 years of SHS, but more.
think, some kids would be happy with the plan because the school
years will be shorter. And their parents, who are burdened by
the cost of the extra year’s expense will feel relieved. The
party in power can then be happy because the education commission’s
approach can be described in the next party manifesto as “social
justice;” perhaps to gain more votes.
truth of the matter is that it will not be social justice for
long - as people without jobs vote for issues they hardly
understand while more spill into the streets to demand for more
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