The Executive Director of Africa Education Watch (Eduwatch), Kofi Asare, has revealed that there is no policy document for a proposed semester for the introduction of the semester system to the basic schools.
According to him, the Ghana Education Service (GES) does not have a justifiable reason for the introduction of the semester system and that its decision was not based on any research document. Mr Asare explained that at the end of the day, it becomes “another wish of someone which ends up being imposed onto the sector”.
Mr Asare emphasized that the proposed semester calendar for the pre-tertiary sector comes without a policy document detailing how the new calendar will be implemented.
“If you ask the GES and the Ministry of Education what is wrong with the trimester system, they’re not able to tell you anything. The PRO was indicating that it was a policy issue and so they’ll have to keep discussing with the teachers without actually believing that they will drop the policy. Has anyone in this country seen that policy document? Have you seen any policy document on this proposed semester system? There’s nothing like that. There’s no document called a policy document for a proposed semester system. There’s nothing like that. You’ll ask and ask and you won’t find anything”.Kofi Asare
The EduWatch boss acknowledged that the semester system is not in response to a problem or gap in the trimester system as the trimester system has been operational in the country “for over 70 years”. Therefore, Mr Asare reckoned that the introduction of the semester system was unnecessary even if government has established some gaps in the system.
“But let’s ask ourselves, why do we change policies? It is basic on social policy discourse and social policy management? You change policies when existing policies exhibit deficiencies, exhibit gaps that are not easily surmountable. What deficiencies, what gaps have we through research and experience established in the running of the trimester system which has existed in this country for over 70 years? What gaps have we analysed, researched into and established?”Kofi Asare
Following this, he called on the GES to withdraw the new calendar immediately and return to the trimester system.
New System will not affect contact hours
On her part, the Head of Public Relations at the Ghana Education Service (GES), Cassandra Twum Ampofo, noted that the new semester system will not affect the amount of contact hours teachers have with students. She revealed that the new system maintains the same amount of contact hours from the traditional trimester system.
“You know at first when we were doing the trimester, they were actually doing 42 weeks, now they’re doing 40 weeks. And because we are trying to align, that is why it seems that now it’s going to be 20 weeks and then they’ll vacate even though they have one week mid-semester in there. And then the second part will also come”.Cassandra Twum Ampofo
Madam Ampofo highlighted that gradually because it’s the “first time”, schools are going to have 10 weeks per session, go on a break and then resume for another 10 sessions and have a week break and then end that semester.
“And so really we haven’t increased the number of weeks that they usually had before when they were doing the trimester because they had 13, at a point we run 13 weeks we came to 15 thereabout and so we haven’t really increased the number of weeks that will affect the teachers.”Cassandra Twum Ampofo
The PRO for the GES explained that the Service has expressed its decision to have a meeting with the Teacher Unions and other stakeholders in the education sector concerning the semester system.
“I think we really need to continue our education for them to really understand and appreciate this particular semester”.Cassandra Twum Ampofo