Intelligence picked up by News Ghana indicate that teachers in public Senior High Schools (SHS) across the country are threatening to boycott an arrangement by the government for them to engage final year students during the holidays.
The Ghana government abolished the trimester system (three-term system) and introduced the semester system (a system when an academic calendar is divided into two; usually between 16 and 18 weeks for the 2018/2019 academic year.
The government argues, with the introduction of the semester system, Ghana will move closer to a uniform system across all levels of education.
According to a document obtained from the Free SHS Secretariat by News Ghana, the three-term system has more teaching days (180) than the semester system (162), the latter has an increase in contact hours between the teacher and the student.
The trimester system has six (6) teaching hours a day, but under the semester system, teachers will teach for seven (7) hours a day.
This means the three-term system has a total of 1,080 contact hours each academic year while the semester system yields 1,134 contact hours in an academic year thereby amounting to 54 hours more under the semester system.
Per the semester system, the First Semester of the 2018/2019 academic year, which commenced on September 8, 2018 is expected to end on December 19, 2018 for the Second Semester to commence on March 7, 2019.
This implies that the second and third year students are supposed to be on holidays between December 20, 2018 and March 6, 2019.
But the government, in order to ensure the final year students in the various SHS were adequately prepared before writing their West Africa Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE), decided to introduce what it describes as an ‘academic intervention’ during the holiday period for the teachers to still engage the form 3 students during the period.
A document obtained by News Ghana from the Free SHS Secretariat under the Ministry of Education states, “Senior High School students shall benefit from additional academic intervention to ensure improvement in learning outcomes. Schools shall receive funding allocation to establish instructional interventions in school.
Additionally, 4 Nation Builders Corp (NABCO) Educate Ghana module personnel will be assigned to each senior high school to strengthen English Language and Mathematics instruction.”
News Ghana can confirm authoritatively that teachers have already started grumbling indicating that they will not be a party to the “so called academic intervention” because the government wants to use them to score political points.
One teacher who spoke to News Ghana on anonymity stated, “The government thinks we teachers are fools and can decide to manipulate us anytime they want? We have resolved not to take part in any academic intervention until the money they claim to have promised hits our accounts before we even commence the classes.”
Prior to announcing the double-track and the semester system for SHS, a Deputy Minister for Education, Dr. Yaw Adutwum assured teachers the government was negotiating with teacher unions’ for an incentive package for the teachers during the period.
However, the teachers who have lost confidence in the leadership of their unions want government to come out officially and tell them how much they would be paid else they will not be part of the programme.
A teacher in the Eastern Region told News Ghana all that the teacher unions were interested in was to exploit teachers by taking monthly dues from them for their personal benefit.
“I hate the teacher unions, they are a bunch of self-seeking individuals who are only using the unions to satisfy their personal interests. If government wants the smooth implementation of the double-track and the semester system alongside the ‘academic intervention’ for the final years, they should tell us ahead of time how much they are going to pay us for us to be satisfied else they will have to look for teachers elsewhere,” he warned.
By Roger A. Agana