Having come into office on the back of one of the most popular campaigns on education in the country, the bus of the Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo government has not only stopped at that.
Since then, the current government has made and attempted to introduce a number of innovations and reforms into the education sector of the country.
And while not all of these interventions have been welcomed with open arms, they have courted national discussions and in this GhanaWeb listicle, we bring you a list of some of the most controversial ones introduced since 2017.
Here they are:
This initiative was perhaps the biggest thing that the Nana Akufo-Addo government rode on to win power from the erstwhile John Dramani Mahama government in 2016.
Whilst it has largely come to be accepted and praised by many as helping release some burden off parents, it wasn’t always the case.
The NPP had rolled out their Free SHS policy in their manifesto [p.69] in 2008, stating their plans to extend guaranteed access for all children of school-going age to free quality education at the basic school level to cover second cycle education.
The policy was only implemented after they won the elections in 2016 and yet in 2020, John Dramani Mahama claimed that his government started the free SHS policy, known then as the Progressive SHS policy, but they couldn’t implement it fully because Ghanaians voted them out of power in 2016.
Later, veteran journalist, Kwesi Pratt Jnr also explained later that neither the NPP nor the NDC should lay claim to the policy because the free SHS was the most important item on the list of promises by the Progressive People’s Party (PPP) prior to the 2012 and 2016 elections.
”Their most important policy was free SHS. In fact, PPP is the first political party that showed us how to fund the policy and also had a budget for it.”
To him, President Akufo-Addo rather rolled out progressive free education and not free SHS.
Ultimately, the policy helped the financial burden on most parents, allowing many more people to attend Senior High School, and for the parents, saving them from feeling dependent on scholarships or private benefits in order to educate their children.
Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE)
In 2019, news emerged that the government was introducing a Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) curriculum that would see pupils in all public schools, including 4-year-olds, being taught about their sexuality
According to information available on healtheducationresources.unesco.org, CSE is a curriculum-based process of teaching and learning about the cognitive, emotional, physical and social aspects of sexuality, equipping children and young people with knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that will empower them to realize their health, well-being and dignity.
The CSE also helps children to develop respectful social and sexual relationships as well as consider how their choices affect their own well-being and that of others.
The controversial policy was however heavily resisted by many, with some people expressing fears about it being a subtle agenda through the syllabus to promote Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) plans.
But the government, through the then Minister of Education, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, dispelled the suggestions that government was ignoring the cultural and moral values of its citizens and creating policies that will have dire consequences.
According to him, the syllabus approved by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NaCCA) for KG to primary 6 did not include CSE.
Double Track System
As an offshoot of the Free SHS policy, the government introduced a system of schooling at the Senior High School level called the double track system.
The double-track system came about as a means of accommodating the increased numbers of students admitted into SHSs across the country.
Despite efforts by the government to solve the infrastructural deficit in second-cycle institutions across the country, most campuses still lack basic facilities like classrooms, dormitories and dining halls to accommodate all students, supporting the government’s reasoning for this policy.
In the past weeks however, there have been claims that the policy is about to be abolished, but this is another claim that the government has been quick to dispel.
The Public Relations Officer of the ministry, Kwaku Kwarteng, has stated that the introduction of the new calendar has not brought the end of the double-track system.
“Double Track is not completely abolished. We have eliminated the double-entry of Form One and Form Two students. What it means is that all Form One and Form Two students will go to school each as one cohort, not divided into two,” he wrote.
Kwasi Kwarteng added that the double-track system would be completely abolished once government fulfils its commitment to building more schools to accommodate the entire student population across the country.
“As more school buildings are completed, entire school populations will report to school at the same time as one cohort as it pertains in Single Track schools,” he added.
Semester system for basic schools:
The Ghana Education Service (GES) has introduced a semester-based academic calendar for public kindergarten, primary, and Junior High Schools.
The Deputy Director-General for Quality and Access of the Ghana Education Service, Dr. Kwabena Tandoh, said the new system will reduce the workload on teachers.
He noted that the semester-based system will also help decongest the various schools.
“We know based on research that one of the causes of classroom absenteeism among teachers in the various schools was because some teachers sought to upgrade themselves. This is because the three-term system in the basic schools overlap with the university system.
“Gradually, we are getting to the point where we can align. We are giving teachers the time, by aligning their system with the university systems to upgrade if need be,” he said.
This has also been fiercely rejected by stakeholders in the education sector.
The General Secretary of the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), Thomas Musah, for instance, has described the decision by the government to introduce a semester system at the basic level of education as one that is dead on arrival.
“I have been in the system since 1989; you can calculate the number of years I have been in the teaching profession and so this particular thing that we are saying, it is dead on arrival; it is dangerous. To introduce a semester system at the KG level, it is dangerous,” he said.