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04.10.2008 Education

Heads of schools threaten to reduce intake

By Graphic
Heads of schools threaten to reduce intake

Heads of some second-cycle schools have said beginning next academic year they will start reducing the intake of qualified Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) candidates into the first year of senior high school (SHS) to make room for the fourth-year SHS students under the education reform.

This, they said, was due to the lack of efforts on the part of the education authorities to start the construction of classroom blocks for the fourth year students.

However, the Minister of Education, Science and Sports, Prof. Dominic Fobih, has described the action of the heads as premature, since there are ongoing efforts to provide classrooms for the schools.

"We cannot construct all the classrooms at a go and it would have to take time. The fact that we have started somewhere does not mean that we are not doing anything," he told the Daily Graphic.

The first batch of qualified BECE students admitted to SHS Form One who started the education reform last year, are now in their second year, and the heads of schools are worried that they may not have classrooms for them in the fourth year if they keep admitting the same number of students they admit every year.

''We are now in the second year of the reform and they have not even started building classrooms for the fourth year. Two years is not far from now and nothing is being done," one of the heads who pleaded anonymity, told the Daily Graphic.

The source said for instance, it would need 15-unit classroom block to cater for the current Form 'Two students when they get to Form 4, adding that "I wonder whether that can be done in a year".

Another headmaster said the construction of the classroom blocks should have started by now to avoid any rush that could end up in shoddy work.

"If by the end of this academic year they have not started construction work for the fourth year, I would reduce the intake of qualified BECE candidates who would be going to Form One because if I don't do that their seniors would not get classrooms," he stated.

Prof. Fobih noted, however, that the government was continuously awarding contracts for the construction of classrooms and that "this is an ongoing thing".

He gave the assurance that final-year or fourth-year students would have classrooms by the time they get there.

Under the education reform that commenced last year, universal basic education was extended from nine to 11 years, comprising two ears of kindergarten, six years of primary school and three years of junior high school (JHS).

A new four-year SHS offers general education with electives in General Arts, Business, Technical, Vocational and Agriculture for entry into a tertiary institution or the job market.

After JHS, students may choose to go into different streams at SHS, comprising General Education and Technical, Vocational and Agricultural and Training (TVET) or enter into an apprenticeship scheme with some support from the government.