30th September 2010
THE CHANGE IN DURATION OF SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL FROM
FOUR TO THREE YEARS AND RELATED ISSUES
Ladies and Gentlemen of the press. We have assembled you
here today to brief you about the NPP position on the change
of the Senior High School (SHS) programme from 4years to
3years by the NDC Government. This change should not
surprise anybody for the NDC has, for a long time,
orchestrated an agenda to cling on to 3-year SHS duration
regardless of public and expert opinion on the matter.
In 1994, when serious difficulties were encountered in the
system regarding the quality of education at both the Junior
High School (JHS) and the Senior High School (SHS) levels,
the De-Heer Amissah Committee’s recommendation for a 4-year
SHS programme was rejected.
The 1999 National Stakeholders Forum on Education
overwhelmingly endorsed the four year system but the NDC
Government again rejected it for unexplained reasons.
Even after the 2008 Education Act (Act 778) had made the
second cycle education four years the NDC Manifesto rejected
the four-year system citing wrongly the Anamuah-Mensah
Report which was commissioned by the NPP Government.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Presidential Commission on
Education Report’s conclusions have been wrongly used to
support a 3-year duration case but the Report did not
directly say so. Its reference to a 3-year duration was
conditional and listed deficiencies to be addressed before
its implementation. These deficiencies are:
* Lack of adequate teaching and learning facilities.
* Poor infrastructural facilities
* Low number of well-motivated and committed teachers.
* Poor management and supervision.
* It also strongly recommended the provision of adequate
human and material resources in all SHS in the country so
that no school is disadvantaged.
It then concluded that if these deficiencies are addressed
there will be no need to increase the duration (page 62,
Commission’s Report). So the reference to 3 years was not in
a vacuum but within the context of a specified school
environment to be provided.
It came as no surprise when the new NDC Minister-designate
for Education even before being vetted made a public
pronouncement about his government’s intention to revert the
4-year duration passed by the NPP Government to three years.
His position is a reflection of the NDC’s manifesto pledge
to reverse the 4-year duration to 3years.
Nonetheless, the declaration by the minister–designate left
no doubt that a party political decision had been taken on
the matter, and that public consensus building would not be
The subsequent holding of a National Forum on May 27-28,
2009 on the matter using public resources was anything but
cosmetic. Truly, even though the forum did not arrive at a
consensus on the issue and the matter was thrown back to
government, the NDC Government chose to defy the divided
public opinion on the matter and used its majority to amend
the Law and thus reduce the SHS duration from 4 to 3 years.
In spite of the passage, we the NPP believe that the 4- year
duration will be beneficial to majority of students in the
system whose education is prematurely truncated at the JHS
and the SHS levels through no fault of their own.
NDC Government’s reasons for amendment
Be as it may, It is important to know the justification that
informed the NDC Government to take the unilateral decision
to amend the four year duration. The reasons are that:
* Kindergarten education has been mainstreamed.
* Efforts are being made by stakeholders to provide human
and material resources.
* Measures are being taken to address teacher distribution
and capacity to deliver the syllabuses and the curriculum.
* Infrastructure and equipment are being addressed and above
all that the NDC Party’s manifesto says so.
The issue that arises from these justifications is that have
those deficiencies recommended by the Anamuah Mensah’s
Committee to be addressed before reversing into a 3-year
programme been achieved “to the extent that no SHS is
disadvantaged” as recommended by the Committee? The answer
is emphatically No.
There is no doubt that the reasons being adduced for the
reduction of the SHS to 3years are all futuristic
propositions and not based on what really exists in the
school system at the moment. We therefore consider the
government’s decision to amend the duration of the SHS to be
unjust, premature and in haste. Indeed, the fate of Ghanaian
children and youth, our future human resource and manpower,
is so precious to leave to speculation and the dictates of a
Party’s manifesto alone.
Furthermore, the NDC Government suggests that as a result of
the strengthening of Guidance and Counseling at the JHS
level students performance has improved to merit the 3 years
SHS duration. This is far from the truth. Kindergarten
mainstreaming is a recent innovation and many human and
material resources are not in place. The first batch of KG
pupils are now in primary one and it is impossible to make
any meaningful assessment of its relative impact on the
Primary, JHS and SHS levels. Besides, no appreciable
improvement has occurred at either the JHS or at the SHS
level. Available data, indeed show that:
* 48% of JHS students fail the BECE.
* 40% only pass with aggregate 30.
* 60% of JHS students lack basic literacy skills.
* Many Junior High Schools score zero at the BECE.
Where then is the evidence that supports the government’s
position that all is now well in our schools for a 3-year
SHS duration to be adopted when at the SHS also the
situation is even worse? 70% of students who pass WASSCE do
so with more than one sitting. 80% of entrants into tertiary
institutions are from just the top 50 SHS out of 495. And
only 20% - 25% SHS students complete their programmes
Teacher supply and teacher quality are still critical and
disadvantaged to some students especially those in rural
schools where sometimes only one or two teachers are
available to teach all the primary or JHS subjects.
In 2010, for instance, out of the 33,185 teacher vacancies
declared, only 8,625 trained teachers were expected back
into the system. About 23,988 pupil-teachers expected to
fill the vacancies this year only 3,000 were approved by
government leaving a deficit of 20,988 pupil-teachers. In
some regions, the trained-teacher/pupil ratio is 1:175.
Poor infrastructure also still prevails despite the laudable
efforts by governments (e.g in 2008 alone 627 Basic school
buildings were constructed). 3,900 school are still under
trees. There are also about 4,000 schools under sheds. Yet
in the 2010 Budget, Government plans to build only 165 such
In the 2010 Budget out of an amount of US$750 million
requested by the sector ministry only US$6million was
approved. At present Pupil/desk ratio is 7:1 in some
regions. GETFund and DACF inflows for 2009 also fell short
by GH¢10million and GH¢15million respectively.
All these are happening 20 years after the 1987 Education
Reform, and when indeed, governments have been aware that
Infrastructure, teaching and learning materials etc. are
necessary for quality education.
Ladies and gentlemen, the evidence is therefore clear that
in the field of education much more still needs to be done.
To achieve a really better goal, a holistic approach has to
be adopted in which the future of students currently going
through the process is guaranteed and properly catered for
while other resources are progressively channeled into
improving the system.
NDC Government’s Attitude
On the contrary, the government’s posture is to ignore the
challenges the system poses and operate under the guise that
40% JHS entrants into SHS is putting pressure on it to
expand the system. And so the 4-year duration which seeks to
provide adequate learning time to offset deficit of students
currently going through the system will weaken government’s
ability to expand facilities.
An obvious question to ask is should we also ignore the 60%
of students who, year by year, perish in the system when one
extra year intervention will make a lot of difference in the
students’ lives? Indeed, to throw such a large number of
unsuccessful JHS and SHS graduates into the street is to
create social misfits with adverse consequences for the
entire society. We have a social and moral obligation to do
something to improve the situation rather than worsen the
fortunes of our future generation, all because of a party’s
Ladies and gentlemen, one of the negative consequences of
the NDC Government’s intransigence on this matter will be
that, in 2013, two batches of SHS graduates (3 years group
and 4 years group) will come out. This will have serious
implications for admissions to tertiary education. We know
that even at their current capacities, our tertiary
institutions are able to absorb only 18% of all eligible
applicants. In 2013, the same institutions will be called
upon to admit twice the current number of applicants. Put in
another way, only 9% of eligible applicants will get
admissions into our tertiary institutions in 2013.
Is this how we want to administer education to our own
children, all in the name of partisan politics? Why should
government be so insensitive to the future welfare of
Ghanaian children and to the national interest?
NPP Government’s Preparation
One often hears the NDC campaign that the NPP Government did
not prepare well before and after the launch of the
Education Reform. In furtherance of the four-year programme,
the NPP Government initiated action in many areas:
1. An Implementation Plan was prepared detailing the
specific requirements for infrastructure, Teacher supply,
Textbooks, syllabuses, Teaching and Learning Materials to be
given attention during the implementation period.
2. The 4-year Syllabuses and Textbooks were prepared and
sent to SHS.
3. Teacher Training Colleges were converted into Diploma
awarding institutions and their infrastructure upgraded.
4. Basic School structures were categorized into schools
under trees, sheds and regular structures to give priority
attention in the GETFUND allocation to these categories of
5. By the time the NPP Government left office 1,327 schools
under trees had been built out of the total of 5227
6. Embarked on massive building of Basic and Secondary
school classrooms and the initiation of Model SHS of which
31 were completed and 25 also were at various stages of
7. There was massive expansion in Tertiary Institutions’
infrastructure. Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of
Education to cater for the anticipated expansion in access.
8. The NPP Government as far back as 2008 initiated
discussions with Heads of schools, Vice-Chancellors and the
West African Examinations’ Council on how to manage the
transition from three to the four years and the challenges
inherent in the change.
Thus, enough enthusiasm and commitment was invested into the
change but the posture adopted by the NDC Government
immediately it took office through pronouncements on the
reversal of the SHS duration from 4 years to 3 years,
dampened the enthusiasm of the institutions and their
stakeholders. This deliberate neglect and lack of interest
has brought about the present predicament in which the SHS
Heads, parents and their wards find themselves.
Indeed, the NDC Government’s plan is to be-smear the 4-year
SHS change in order to make it unpopular and blame it on the
Why should we rush our youth into the world of work when the
jobs are non-existent and the time could be profitably used
to train them well?
Because of a Party’s Manifesto, why should the special
foundation textbooks and revised syllabuses specially
prepared to remedy students’ deficiencies in the core
subject areas at both the JHS and the SHS be abandoned just
after a year or two and the amount of about US$98.5 million
invested into the processes of publishing the relevant
textbooks and syllabuses become irrelevant?
The view of the NPP is that this unwholesome situation has
persisted because of the country’s inability to provide all
the needed resources in the short-term. A long-term solution
has to be found. The addition of one year to the SHS will
therefore cushion the system and help to correct the mass
failures at the JHS and within the SHS programme. More
instructional time will be made available for teaching and
learning and the core subjects will be given the due
attention at the SHS before students embark on their
specialized course programmes.
It is the view of the NPP that no significant improvement
has occurred in the school system since the past twenty-one
months to warrant a reversion of the SHS programme to three
The NDC Government’s persistent lack of commitment to the
4-year duration, and the Education Reform generally, is a
clear manifestation of its insensitivity to the plight of
our youth and their future. Consequently, we find the NDC
Government’s position to be unacceptable.
We call on the NDC Government to take a second look at its
position on this matter.
Prof Dominic Fobih
NPP Spokesperson on Education
DEVELOPMENT IN FREEDOM
Tel: 0241 775 505