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16.04.2009 Education

Mixed reactions greet call for cancellation of extra classes

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THE CALL by the Minister of Education, Mr. Alex Tetteh-Enyo, for the cancellation of extra classes in Junior and Senior High Schools has been met with mixed reactions in Kumasi.

Some residents, including parents, academicians and educationists have expressed their opinions on the call by the minister and have subsequently urged the government to take a critical look at the issue in order to avoid putting the country's educational system in danger.

The Minister of Education over the weekend disclosed that the government would soon send circulars to Junior and Senior High Schools in the country banning the organization of extra classes both in school and at homes.

While many believe that the decision would help check the high level of exploitation by teachers who engage in these extra classes in both junior and senior high schools in the country, others are also of the opinion that the directive, if not properly handled, could have serious repercussions on the quality of education being offered to students in the country.

According to Mr. I. K Gyasi, a retired educationist and former Headmaster of the Ahmaddiya Senior High School, in Kumasi, there ought to be broader consultations and a holistic approach to the issue before its implementation.

Mr. Gyasi was of the view that the issue was a sensitive one which needs to be critically handled in order to avoid Teacher-Parents confrontation which he said could negatively affect the level of education in our various schools.

While condemning the way teachers have been exploiting parents in the name of extra classes at the expense of teaching effectively in regular class hours, the retired educationist said the government must not also lose sight of the fact that conditions of teachers in the country was nothing good to write home about, and that most of them make their means of livelihood through these extra classes. “If the government wants to ban teachers from organizing extra classes, then their conditions of services must also be improved,” he emphasized.

He also disagreed with the Minister on the decision to extend the ban to individual homes, saying it would amount to infringement of citizens' fundamental human rights.

A lecturer, Mr. Kusi Amakye Boateng, wants the government to tackle the issue from its root cause and address the reasons that have resulted in the phenomenon and proffer comprehensive solutions to deal with the problem.

According to him, the policy would have little impact on the efficiency of teaching if proper mechanisms and monitoring systems are not put in place to check the implementation of the decision.

He was of the view that the decision to organize of extra classes in some schools are not often arbitrary, but it is sometimes by concerned wards and parents of the students who often agree to introduce incentives to teachers, to enable them offer extra classes for the students.

Mr. Amakye further expressed reservations about Mr.Tetteh-Enyo's controversial decisions since he assumed office as the Minister of Education, the first of which was his decision to revert back to the old three year system for the Senior High school.

He, however, said the Minister's decision to extend the ban on teaching in homes would be a violation of parents' liberty and freedom to educate their children.

A parent and Lecturer at the Faculty of Engineering at the Kumasi Polytechnic, Dr. Owusu Achiaw also called on the government to address the deficiencies that often give rise to extra classes before implementing the decision.

He also emphasized the need to motivate teachers and introduce adequate incentives for them in order to prevent them from resorting to extra classes as a means of enriching themselves.

Dr. Achiaw also expressed doubts about the Minister's ability to control the choice of parents to solicit extra classes for their wards, adding that it was not the duty of the government to determine the way a parents should educate their children.

Another concerned parent, Mr. George Okyere, said the consequences of such a directive would be very suicidal to the education system in the country, and therefore worsen the already poor results students obtain in examinations.

He said the best option would be for the government to extend the teaching hours and recompense teachers for the extra time spent to make up for the organization of extra classes on individual teacher basis.

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