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Declining SHS performance not about 3 vs 4 years - Dr Patrick Awuah

July 16, 2016, 12:10 p.m.

Founding president of Ashesi University College says the problem of declining academic performance in senior high schools (SHSs) is not down to the duration of the study.

Wading into an unending debate about the academic duration, Dr Patrick Awuah Jnr, said overcrowded secondary schools is at the heart of declining academic performance.

He has, therefore, backed government's policy of building 200 Community Day Senior High Schools saying it will ultimately help decongest crowded schools where he noted there is an observable deterioration in performance.

Experts have lamented that for the past decade more politics and less policy is influencing decision-making in Ghana's education system 

While the NPP upped it to four years in 2007, the then opposition campaigned to revert to the three-year program if elected in 2008. The NDC fulfilled this promise and results suggest a declining academic performance in Senior High Schools.

But Dr Awauh Jnr believes that the controversy about which is better is not a strategic way to assess the two systems.

“It is not a question of the number of years. I have looked at the data since 2006,” Dr Awauh Jnr.

He said any strategic examination of the results will show a certain trend pointing to a lack of planning to accommodate the rising intake.

“Under the 3-year system, there was a steady improvement of performance coming out of WASSCE then we switched to 4-year system and the first year, the trend of improvement continued for that first group…the second group that did the 4-year system, we started to see a decline… the second batch did worse than the first batch,” Dr Awuah Jnr stated.

“Then we switched to the 3-year system and the decline has continued”

He said the SHSs became crowded after the system was increased to four years and after it was reverted, there was no plan to decongest the schools.

“Crowding became the new normal…you still read Wesley Girls complaining that they have been assigned more students than they have seats or beds for and that’s the problem that needs to be solved,” he observed.

“If at the time Ghana moved to a four-year system, government had built more classrooms, hired more teachers, bought more textbooks and so… we probably would have continued to see a continued rise in performance,” he added.

He said government still needs to build more schools now that it has reverted to three years.

He commended government for its goal of 200 community High Schools and said in view of Ghana's growing population, more Senior High Schools need to be constructed. 

“It is a very good idea to build more schools”. He als o called for greater focus on primary education,an area he believes is also suffering from poor and limited infrastructure.