4-year SHS, to reintroduce or not
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in his quest to roll out the free Senior High School (SHS) during his tenure as president will also have to decide whether or not to reintroduce the 4-year senior high school system.
The New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration under President John Kufuor introduced the 4-year Senior High School programme in 2007. However, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) reverted to the 3-year system after it regained power in 2009.
When the late Prof John Evan Atta Mills reintroduced SHS from the four-year period to the three-year period, it generated a debate with some holding the view that there was an improvement in the performance of the four-year serving students’ West Africa Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE) results.
But to keep to his promise during his campaign to reintroduce it to three years, former President Mills did just that.
Available data show that the first batch of the 4-year system performed very well, and Professor Kwasi Yankah, Vice Chancellor of Central University has been one of the advocates who believe the 4-year SHS system will improve students’ performance.
Prof. Yankah though believing the four-year batch performed better, also proposed at a public lecture organized by the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences in Accra last year, that an arrangement be put in place, allowing students in ‘so-called’ well-endowed senior high schools (SHS) take the programme within 3 years, whiles those in ‘so-called’ less-endowed schools do it in 4.
Analysis from the previous results of the WASSCE shows that during the 2012 WASSCE, 68 percent of the total number of students who wrote the exam passed the English Language, 50 percent passed mathematics, 57 percent passed science and 87 percent passed social studies.
This was touted as one of the best results with more students gaining admissions into various universities across the country.
This was also evident when the Former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Prof Ernest Aryeetey was reported to have been in favour of a longer period been allocated for the SHS programmes.
He was reported to have said that students admitted into the university after completing the four-year education system performed far better than those who were educated under the three-year system.
Indeed, it is time the country’s educational sector to be de-linked from partisan politics with focus on what will make the education system work. Many have said that Ghana's education system is not delivering what its citizens need or want.
There is widespread concern about quality of education at all levels in Ghana today. Often, this is expressed in terms of pass ratings at the basic and secondary levels, and equipping students with the requisite skills for the labour market of the 21st century especially at the tertiary level. Whilst passing with good grades is not a comprehensive indication of quality, it is a good proxy to the quality of education at the basic and secondary levels.
President Akufo-Addo, during his election campaign, made a promise to make secondary education free for all citizens without compromising quality. It is therefore worthy to note that the 4-year SHS is one of the moves to ensure the quality of students that will come out of secondary school.
Some educationists believe that the state of education in the country will restrict the ability to transform the economy from a middle-income country with HIPC infrastructure, low total factor productivity and weak systems to the status of a developed economy.
Already, employers complain about the quality of graduates at all levels of the job market, with some decidedly giving preference to Ghanaians who have schooled abroad. The price of the crisis in education will be a major constraint on the country’s ability to accelerate economic development.
It is obvious that the period in which secondary school students complete school, which in practical terms is two-and-half years, is very short and this make them not adequately prepared for the WASSCE.
There are a lot of school activities which take students out of the classroom, this in actual fact, leave some few years for the students to do some serious studies and prepare themselves for their final exams.