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04.01.2006 General News

Addae-Mensah endorses four-year SSS

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Accra, Jan. 4, GNA - Professor Ivan Addae-Mensah, former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, on Wednesday endorsed the four-year term of Senior Secondary School (SSS) proposed by the Anamuah-Mensah Reform Committee saying the country at present lacked the infrastructure to run the programme for the present three years. He said it would be impossible for Ghana to run the SSS programme effectively for three years, as was the case of Japan because Ghana had not yet got to the levels of infrastructure and other logistics. "Until such a time that we reach the levels of Japan, the three-year SSS programme exists only in name."

The former Vice-Chancellor made the statement at the 57th Annual New Year School underway at the University Ghana, Legon, in answer to a question, which sought to know reason for the proposal to change SSS period from three years to four years.

He had delivered a paper titled: "The Educational System in Ghana: A Critical Analysis"

The weeklong school, organized by the Institute of Adult Education on the theme, "Developing the Human Resource For Accelerated National Development" is being attended by more than 400 participants from a cross-section of the population, to passionately discuss topical national issues and to make recommendations with a view to influencing national policy.

The questioner had said the three-year SSS period, which had been fashioned after the Japanese system should be maintained. Professor Addae-Mensah, however, said the four years duration was apt, explaining that inadequate grounding for the majority of Junior Secondary School (JSS) graduates for SSS required that they had an additional year, for which the first of the four years would be used to find their levels.

He attributed the problem of the ill preparation of JSS students to SSS partly to unqualified teachers and lack of infrastructure, saying when Nigeria decided to adopt the JSS system, it moved the JSSs to the classroom of the Senior Secondary Schools, where the pupils were taught by the same teachers, who taught the Sixth Form.

Ghana rather maintained its JSS in the classrooms of the then Middle Schools and Middle School teachers were teaching them. Professor Addae-Mensah made a strong case for a four-year SSS, saying that more 40 per cent of entrants to the University had written the Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination for more than once, a situation, which, he said, would have been helped if they had stayed in school to prepare them adequately for the examination. The Former Vice-Chancellor asked why English Language had been used as medium of instruction in Lower Primary, especially for science education.

Citing a field study he did together with Professor J. S. Djangmah and the late Dr K. Agbenyega, both Educationists, Prof. Addae-Mensah said children tended to have better cognitive levels and performed better in science when they were taught in their first language rather than in a second language.

He said although the Bureau of Ghana Languages had been equipped to deal with 16 languages, the problem of disseminating scientific information in local languages was on how many of them had been reduced to writing levels.

Also about 12 per cent of Ghanaians were literate only in English. Prof. Addae Mensah said 2,000 trained teachers left the teaching field annually many of them on retirement.

Prof. Addae-Mensah said there were signs that the capitation grant was leading to increased levels of enrolment in primary school, especially in the northern sector, but the full effects would be visible within the next five years.

He called for more scientific awareness among Ghanaians, saying science and technology education should not be for only inventors, but also for users.

Pastor Mensa Otabil, Chancellor of the Central University College, who chaired the presentation, noted that the education system had become the scapegoat for the developmental problems of the country. He said it was necessary to use education to master the environment to solve its problems.

"If we are rightly educated, we should not have the filth that has engulfed us, build huge settlements without streets and sell food on the ground," Pastor Otabil said.

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