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30th September 2010


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 fruitful.

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.

Students’ Performance

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 successfully.

Teacher Deficit

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.

Infrastructure Challenge

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 schools.

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 manifesto pledge.

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 schools.

5. By the time the NPP Government left office 1,327 schools under trees had been built out of the total of 5227 identified.

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 completion.

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 NPP Government.

Worsening Unemployment

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?

Long-term Solution

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 year duration.

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
Tel: 0241 775 505


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