For the past three years, the pre-tertiary education level has been plagued with unstable academic calendars or timetables for studies, closures and reopening of schools; a situation described by the Africa Education Watch (Eduwatch), an education think-tank, as an unacceptable major distraction.
According to Kofi Asare, the think-tank’s Executive Director, this phenomenon of knee-jerk reactions rather than a medium- to long-term plan as to when Senior High Schools (SHS) vacate and reopen is a serious distraction to parents, teachers and students in their plans to discharge responsibilities effectively.
He stated that this issue of an unstable academic calendar indicates that the Ghana Education Service (GES) has not competently managed that level of the country’s education system.
“In the past three years, we have not seen any stable academic calendar – and always the excuse has been the double-track system, but that is no longer a new thing. It is now a culture of our education system, and should not be used any longer as a basis for not having a proper academic calendar,” he said.
He further indicated that the Minister of Education, Dr. Yaw Adutwum, in an engagement with the CSOs last year stated that the ministry will set up a committee to take over timetable management; but, unfortunately, that did not happen.
Finance Ministry must respect calendar
Eduwatch is demanding a stable timetable as early as possible, one that will be respected by all stakeholders and followed to the letter. “This means that the timetable must also be respected by the Ministry of Finance, so funds will be made available for its implementation at the appropriate time without delay.”
It is worth noting that no matter how formidable the timetable will be, if the finance minister fails to release funds to the schools on time this will lead to its truncation.
So, the challenge here is two-fold: the development of a formidable timetable and the release of resources to the schools on time to facilitate implementation of the calendar, Mr. Asare reiterated.
Roll out of new curriculum at basic level not successful
Also, Eduwatch has observed that, at the basic school level, the new curriculum roll out hasn’t been successful – which has also affected the academic timetable, a situation that also requires urgent attention from the Ministry and GES.
“By now, Junior High Schools (JHS) students should have been in the classroom, learning. One of the reasons for their delay is that the training of teachers for the JHS curriculum is going to start from today, January 14, 2022; which means teachers have to be trained on the curriculum before they can go to the classroom and implement it,” he said.
Even though this seems to be a legitimate concern, Mr. Asare again pointed out that we are in this situation because of poor planning by the GES from the beginning.
The Ministry of Education has now taken over management of the academic calendar, an arrangement that is hoped will resolve the unstable timetable situation. However, it is believed that managing this issue should have been the duty of the GES and not the ministry as is about to happen; this is happening because the GES has been incompetent.