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21.03.2012 Education

Review Current SHS Duration

By A. Kofoya Tetteh - Daily Graphic
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The President of the Ghana Association of Writers (GAW), Mr Kwasi Gyan-Apenteng, has called for the review of the current four-year duration of the senior high school (SHS), since it cannot equip students well to climb the academic ladder.

He expressed disgust at the present situation where almost all the students who were absolved into the best SHSs happened to be products of private schools in the municipalities.

Mr Gyan-Apenteng, who is also a renowned journalist and member of the National Media Commission (NMC), made the call at the third Opoku Acheampong Memorial Lectures at the Okuapemman School at Akropong-Akuapem.

The Okuapemman School was founded 55 years ago by Mr Opoku Acheampong, a distinguished lawyer, and to honour him, the school had to institute the lectures, which have been scheduled for February 8 each year.

This year’s event was attended by a number of past students and dignitaries such as Osabarima Ansa Sasraku, Mamfehene and Akuapem Kyidomhene, who is an old student and member of the 1982 year group, who led the group to cut the sod for the construction of a state-of-the-art gate for the school estimated at GH¢50,000.

According to Mr Gyan-Apenteng, who is also an old student of the Okuapemman School, what students attained in the old five-year secondary education could not be attained within three or four years.

He said the issues which were more worrying were the frequent changes of the SHS duration from three to four years making it a political football being kicked about at the detriment of students, parents and society.

Mr Gyan-Apenteng, who said there was not much wrong with the old five years and additional two-year sixth form secondary education, called on politicians to commit themselves to conducting a wide range of public consultation within the next two years to fashion a policy on the duration of the SHS for the next 20 years.

Such a consultation, he stated, should involve all stakeholders, especially teachers, parents, the private sector and alumni associations.

The private sector, especially industry, he suggested, could also play a role by helping to train students who previously had to be on vacation jobs while on holidays to prepare them for the job market.

“I am not against educational reforms but I know from my own observation that if you ask Ghanaians on the issue, most will probably say that there was not a lot wrong with the five years and two years sixth form.”

“I think the time has come for our politicians to commit themselves to conducting a wide ranging public consultation within the next two years so that a policy on the duration of the SHS can be fashioned to last at least 20 years,” Mr Gyan-Apenteng stated.

On the situation where products of private schools accounted for between 90 per cent and 100 per cent of admissions to the best SHSs because their parents could afford to pay for their education in such schools to get high grades, he said that had created a lopsided society favouring only the rich.

He described such a trend as nothing short of a scandal and called on the authorities to offer more incentives to public sector education to improve it, adding that the teachers in the public sector schools were good but only that the circumstances which they competed put them at a complete disadvantage.

Mr Gyan-Apenteng indicated that it had become a standard headache every year for parents and guardians to enrol their children and wards in SHSs through the computerised system that had been perceived to be associated with backroom deals and protocol lists for children of the rich and the well-known, and called for a policy that would address all such problems.

That, he said, would create a level playing field for students of both the rich and the poor to be admitted to the best SHSs in the country.

He praised the late Opoku Acheampong for his foresight in founding the Okuapemman School, which he said had produced a lot of

distinguished professionals in the country.

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