Vice President opposed to four-year SHS
Accra, May 29, GNA - Vice President John Dramani Mahama, on Wednesday said the challenges facing Ghana's education system were more fundamental than the duration of Senior High School (SHS). He, therefore, charged participants at a two-day national forum on the duration of SHS to pay particular attention to issues of quality basic education, quality teacher training, teacher motivation and text books at the basic level.
The forum was organised in fulfilment of a manifesto promise by the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) to seek consensus on the duration of SHS, which used to be three year until the previous government increased it to four years a few years back. Mr. Mahama noted that merely increasing the duration of SHS to four years without addressing the flaws of the basic education level had not made the situation any better.
"I thought the purpose of making the duration of SHS four years was to strengthen the foundation of our education system and not to cover it up," he said.
The Vice President said so long us basic level, including kindergarten, primary and Junior High School (JHS), remained challenged it did not matter if the duration of SHS was extended to 10 years, the results would still be bad.
"We need to go back to the basics and deal with the problems of non-availability of text books, poor teacher-motivation, poor quality teachers and inadequate facilities among other things," he said.
Mr. Mahama noted that the problem was even worse in the rural areas, particularly in the less privileged schools, saying that children from such schools seemed to have been condemned to illiteracy and they never got the opportunity to be well prepared for SHS.
He said children from the few privileged schools did not have the same challenges as those from less-privileged school, adding that the privileged children usually entered SHS well prepared and did not need four years to complete and grasp their syllabi.
Mr. Mahama urged the participants to pay attention to the predicament of the less privileged schools and make recommendations on how to effectively address the fundamental flaws at the basic level. He said government was committed to ensuring equitable access to quality education and that government was particularly interested in quality teacher training in Mathematics and Science. Mr. Mahama debunked criticism raised against the forum by some education experts, saying that consultation would always be necessary no matter how much consultation that had been on a critical national issue as education.
Mr. Alex Tettey-Enyo, Minister of Education, expressed the confidence that the forum would emerged with recommendations that would put Ghana's education system on the path to greatness. He noted that a number of forums had been held in the past on Ghana's education system, but this one promised to deliver a lasting solution to challenges.
The Minister urged participants to focus on addressing issues dispassionately.
About 700 participants and experts, drawn from the public and private sectors, as well as from civil society, were participating in the forum. 29 May 09 Attention recipients, item 01 ends first cast.