The West African Examination Council, WAEC, has released data that reveals the negative consequences of reintroducing the 3-year SHS policy instead of four years spent in Senior High School education cycle.
The released data shows that after the 3-year system was reintroduced by the NDC government, passes in Core English dropped from nearly eight out of 10 Senior High School students to nearly five.
Longer bars in the 2011 data shows striking success rate of the 4-year SHS policy introduced by the NPP government in 2007.
“If it is not broken, why fix it?” Professor Kwesi Yankah concluded after taking his host Francis Abban through research he conducted using data from WAEC.
In an interview on Joy News channel’s current affairs programme, The Pulse, the Vice-Chancellor of the Central University noted that the sharp drop in pass rate is a pervasive problem across several subjects.
In Integrated Science, Elective Maths, Biology, the trend is the same, he pointed out.
Using a 2006 to 2015 trajectory, Prof Yankah explained that 2006 to 2009 was a three-year cycle.
The 2011 to 2012 was a four-year cycle while in 2013 the two streams of 3-year and 4-year cycle sat one exam.
In his 34-page research work, Prof. Yankah noted that the “commotion” in Ghana’s educational sector began in 2007 after the NDC campaigned it would change the system if it won the 2008 elections.
The NDC and NPP were locked in a tense war over the direction of the education cycle. The governing NPP had introduced a 4-year system while the NDC, led by the late President John Evans Atta Mills vowed to scrap this policy.
The NDC victory in 2008 paved the way for the reintroduction of a 3-year strategy in 2009. Prof. Yankah observed that “there was no need for the interruption because there was no hard evidence on the ground to demonstrate that the four-year was inferior”.
Picking out the constraints of the 3-year cycle, Professor Yankah said the shorter period puts “considerable strain” on teachers and students.
“In practical terms, you are talking about two and half years” because of the administrative process of admissions.
He explained that because Senior High Schools admit students from less endowed and well endowed schools sitting in the same class, the first year is used to bridge the gap.
“First year is remedial in character” he said, adding students use it to determine where their strengths and weaknesses are.
Referring to observation from examiners, Prof. Yankah said there is a clear indication that students who sat the exam after three years did not have much time to prepare.
According to him, students are having to begin classes as early as 4:30am.
His fist trembled as he stressed that a majority of the students are suffering under the three-year system.
Prof. Yankah, however pointed out that other factors such as teacher motivation, quality of students passing through the Junior High School also affects the performance at the Senior High School level.
Nevertheless, he concluded by saying that if politics is to be removed for the debate over Ghana’s education policy, the evidences as gathered from WAEC suggest that the three-year policy is a retrogression.