Monday, August 16, 2010

Education in Ghana: the uncertain future of secondary education.

So where does Ghana’s secondary education heading? Ordinarily, the answer to this question will be simple and straight forward. But no. it’s convoluted than one may think. And more so because after 53 years of a so-called independence from the British, Ghana has no sustainable blue print in education-especially at the secondary level. The ones implemented over the years are those plucked from the politicians, and they are heavily inundated with partisan ideas.

The so-called fourth republican era has more of that. But it started even a bit before that. Ghana had previously operated the O&A levels concept and it was very much better. It was modeled on the British system. The quality of students was very mature and analytical. The system was however changed, thanks to the (P) N.D.C.administration under Jerry Rawlings. It was sacrificed for no apparent reason. In the wisdom of Jerry and his advisers, the introduced senior secondary school (operating on the sidelines) will better serve the nation’s interest. It will fall in line with other countries in the sub-region, was the excuse given. Over a decade down the line and with Rawling’s era coming to an end, the N.P.P. regime under John Kufour decided not to think right and implemented its own concept, against the advice of a committee it had set up to look into the education system.

The Anamua Mensah Committee headed by Professor Anamua Mensah of the University of Education, Winneba, was subsequently inaugurated by the government to look into the issue. The excuse given for the setting up of the committee was very lame and stupid, to say the least; that more than half of those who graduate from the secondary level record failed marks. The solution is to add one more year so the students can use that to prepare themselves for university. It followed no logic. The committee recommended to the government to shelve the additional year but Kufour will not listen.

He went ahead with his plans. Churlish and ill advised by his own praise singers, he went ahead, had a big conference and the so-called ‘educational reform’ was made public. The absurdity of the whole reform is the change of the name from the Senior Secondary School to that of Senior High School. The government had no structures in place for the change; textbooks, classrooms, teachers and additional incentives. The National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) protested against the year’s addition. The government will have none of it. Then in opposition, the National Democratic Congress indicated it will change the policy when it comes into office.

Almost two years into office the NDC has carried out its ‘electoral promise’ and this has set a lot of students on the wheels of confusion. On the 2nd of August, 2010 and after back and forth partisan debates in parliament, the NDC’s majority passed the bill to slash the one year from the four.

Parliament voted 106-78 to amend a portion of the Bill which captured the year’s addition. The argument by the NDC is that there are no classrooms for the additional year. The textbooks are also not in place, the party said. So the whole reformed undertaken by the NPP was irrelevant, in the mind of the NDC. Like the NPP, the NDC is not going to be in power forever. The NPP Ballado Manu had openly spoken against the decision and from the looking of things his party will go back to the four years, that’s when they come into power.

The NDC will not be in power forever, which is for sure. In the midst of this senile partisan consideration, it is the future of the students at stake.Those in their third year are now in limbo; are they going to end at the third year before tertiary or do the fourth and head out?

Just on Monday 16th August,2010 the stated owned Daily Graphic called on its frontpage the sad story about how ‘O Reilly’ senior high school, one of Ghana’s oldest, will soon be shut down because owners of the land where the school is are demanding their property back. The students are now being asked to look for other schools where there are vacancies so they put themselves up.

Funny! It is amazing how authorities in this country make so much noise about education but end up doing extremely little or nothing at all about the quality.

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  1. Thanks for putting all this in perspective. For a foreigner the educational system is quite confusing, especially trying to understand why it is the way it is. Nicely written too.

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