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KWAMI ALORVI ASKS: WHY IS THE MoE/GES ALWAYS NOT GETTING IT RIGHT?

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The latest in not getting things right is an invitation to teachers to leave the classroom for a five-day training programme on *WAEC Chief Examinners’ Report* given to students earlier, which is the focus of this piece.
But first, a recap of some of the things they did not get right.
1. In 2017 Government, through the Ministry of Education (MoE) and the Ghana Education Service  (GES), introduced the free SHS. Many thought this laudable policy needed at least one year beyond 2017 to properly plan for its effective implementation. Some others also made proposals on various aspects of the free SHS policy.
But all these people including then Pro Vice Chancellor of UCC, Prof GTK Oduro and Former Vice Chancellor of UG Prof. Ivan Addai Mensah, came under scathing attacks. Her Ladyship the immediate past Chief Justice, and former Minister of Defence, Dr. Addo Kufour, were lucky to have escaped the ravaging claws of  the attacking lions of the free SHS policy. The reasons for their escape are obvious though. Everyone who suggested anything contrary to the views held by the powers that be, were branded anti free SHS and anti government.
The only twist and turn was the reshuffling of then Information Minister Mustapha Hamid, who dared to touch the Beloved Son of Akyem Abuakwa, Hon Ken Ofori Atta, of whom the Jubilee House is well pleased. Hamid was moved from the Information Ministry to the Zongo Ministry.
2. A culture of silence was thus imposed on the Education sector.
The free SHS was rolled out without adequate planning and proper stakeholder engagements leading to congestion and overcrowding in the Senior High Schools. The resultant effect is the double track system; another unplanned and adhoc measure put in place to solve an emergency.
3. Then came the outlawing of collection of exam fees by Headteachers of Basic schools without any measures put in place by the MoE/GES to resource the headteachers to set and print exam questions for their pupils. A chaotic situation thus emerged with teachers climbing ladders, tables, benches and whatever they could lay hands on, in order to maximize the space on the chalkboard, when writing the terminal exam questions for their pupils.
4. Proactive and creative Headteachers who managed  to get parents to assist them fund these terminal exams through levies suffered humiliation from the GES. They were demoted and removed from office as headteachers and posted to the classrooms to teach.
5. Next was the attempt to *privatize* some basic schools. The teacher unions- GNAT, NAGRAT and CCT- battled them into retreat.
6. We have also not forgotten the introduction of a new curriculum for basic 1 to 6 as far back as April 2019. Teachers, pupils and parents are still waiting for the approved textbooks for this curriculum. Only heaven knows to what standard  the teachers are teaching concerning what we had been told was, and still is, a standard based curriculum.
Instead of  NaCCA  concentrating on measures to supply the textbooks to the schools, its Executive Director has taken over the role of the PRO of the Electoral Commission, writing articles to be posted on EC’s website in defence of a new voters register. The posts on EC’s website, have now been pulled down, but we have screen shots of them. Oh how I wish the excellent academic credentials advertised on the EC’s website by the NaCCA boss, would rather be used to impart education, which he is in charge of, and supply the textbooks, rather than imparting on electoral issues on behalf of EC
7. Getting it also wrong was the introduction of the *Comprehensive Sexuality Education* policy into our curriculum. Yes, that will never be lost on us. Our Religious leaders, CSOs and Think Thanks launched a coordinated assault on the MoE and GES, forcing them into a disgraceful retreat.
8. Teachers, especially those teaching SHS3 in the Single track schools, Headmasters and kitchen staff, have not had their holidays since the introduction of the double track. Incessant and inconsistent changes in the academic calendar and time table, have made things difficult for teachers. The MoE/GES pride themselves in claiming they have extended contact hours, believing this would automatically translate into increased academic work and quality teaching and learning.
I used to hear my colleague Economics teacher in Mfantsipim those days telling his students there was something in Economics called the *”Law of Diminishing Returns”*. Have the education authorities been bothered to find out how this law is affecting  teachers and students which might result in the extension of contact hours not translating into expected academic outcomes? Classes begin at 7.00am and end at 3.30pm. Schools that have incorporated the academic intervention into their time tables close after 4.30pm. How is this law of diminishing returns affecting teachers and students?
10. We woke up in December 2019 to hear and read the GES had secured and supplied over 400,000 past WASSCE questions and Chief Examiners’ Reports to the first batch of the fSHS students now in form 3. Some of us felt GES again didn’t get it right and expressed our disbelief and opposition. We argued that Chief Examiners’ report were meant for teachers and not for students. May be GES now agrees with our position. But instead of dealing with it the right way, they are descending deeper into the mud of incorrectness.
12. The mother of incorrect decisions came this week.
A letter from the GES, signed by its Director General, (Ref, GESDG24520009) dated 6th January 2020 and addressed to *ALL REGIONAL DIRECTORS”*, started flooding various WhatsApp platforms from 8.00pm Friday 10th January 2020. The letter titled *INTERVENTION PROGRAMME FOR CORE SUBJECT TEACHERS: INVITATION TO TRAINING
WORKSHOP*, invited core subject teachers of SHS3 to a training programme to *”interact, discuss and solve questions relating to WAEC’s Chief Examiners Report”* with experienced educationists and examiners. The programme, according to the letter, has been scheduled to take place from Sunday 12th  to Thursday 16th January 2020. The letter directed the Regional Directors to *”inform all heads of second cycle schools to permit their form three (3) core subject teachers to attend”*. Teachers were *”to bring along bedsheets”*.
The centers of the training  programme are UDS, Tamale for teachers in UW, UE, NE, Savannah and Northern regions; UENR, Sunyani for those in Bono,  Ahafo, Bono E, and Ashanti regions; UCC, Cape Coast for Central, Western, Eastern and Western North regions;  and UG, Accra for teachers in Greater Accra, Volta and Oti regions.
Many questions arise begging for answers.
a. Was this programme a planned activity by the GES or an after thought?
b. The schools reopened on 5th January 2020, a day before the GES letter dated 6th January. If the programme was planned, why didn’t the GES incorporate it into its circulars to the schools before they reopened so they could plan for it at their reopening staff meetings?
c. How can a teacher, example from Dambai and Krachie in Oti Region, or from Donkorkrom in the Eastern region, who got the information on Saturday night prepare and get to Accra and Cape Coast respectively, on Sunday for the program? Is it not even an inconvenience for teachers closer to the centers to respond to this emergency invitation? What about teachers who have travelled out of their stations for other engagements?
d. How is the GES sure that teachers have money after Christmas, for an unplanned transportation and extra money for housekeeping during their unanticipated abrupt departure from their children, to these centers far away from their stations? Those who still have some money at bank can’t get it either because they have to leave home on Sunday.
e. And why is GES taking all SHS3 core subject teachers off the classrooms for a whole week at this critical time? Some SHS3 teachers are also teaching SHS1 & 2 classes, not only in Single track schools but in some double track ones as well. What happens to the students for the five days that their teachers are  absent?
f. And if GES found it right to give the past questions and Chief Examiners’ Reports to students earlier, why is it not rather inviting the students to this training programme on the report? After all, it is students who have been supplied with the past questions and Examiners’ reports that the teachers have been invited to discuss.
g. What is the importance of this training for teachers, most of whom are  Examiners and Team Leaders for WAEC in the WASSCE and are already conversant with the demands of the past questions anyway?
I ask again: *why is the MoE/GES always not getting it right?*
Dated: Sunday 12th January 2020.

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