Politics

Teacher unions want SHS calendar reset

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Teacher unions are in discussion with the Ghana Education Service (GES) to realign the senior high school (SHS) calendar with that of the basic school.

This follows the reversal of the basic school academic calendar to the pre-COVID-19 era, starting from the 2023/24 academic year.

Per the revised calendar, the new academic year for basic schools will begin on Tuesday, October 3, 2023, and end on July 25, 2024.

However, SHSs are still running the transitional calendar which spans January to December every year.

Meeting
To address the issue, the General Secretary of Teachers and Education Workers Union (TEWU), Mark Denkyira Korankye, told the Daily Graphic that the unions were working with the GES on how to re-align the first and second cycle school calendars.

He said, for instance, the meeting with the GES — called about two weeks ago — was for the stakeholders to see how “they can fit the senior high school system into this one so that there would be a reconciled programme”.

Mr Korankye explained that the unions had always been pushing for the reversal to the pre-COVID-19 programme so that the academic calendar could begin from September or October in order that schools would have their long vacation from July the following year.

“The teacher unions have always been pushing that we revert to the pre-COVID era schedule so we know that from September or October, the academic year is beginning and then end in June, and then we know there is a long vacation for children to have a rest.

“This time, what we are experiencing is that you break for two weeks, and then you are called to come back.

Meanwhile, parents are also suffering because they can’t plan as they have to go and pay school fees again for yet another term.

We have sat through with management and have discussed it, and we think that we should restructure it so that we go back to that old system, where the academic year begins from September-October and ends in June-July,” the TEWU General Secretary said.

He said the revised calendar for basic schools was welcome.

He said the new academic calendar was beneficial as it allowed for effective planning by the various stakeholders in education.

“That (current calendar) did not allow the teachers and administrators to prepare adequately for some of these things, so if we have a structured system that helps in planning and preparation, it would be good,” Mr Korankye said.

Background
The GES reverted to the pre-COVID-19 academic calendar for basic schools following the completion of the 2022 academic year.

It means that the first term of the 2023/2024 academic year will begin on October 3, 2023, according to the reset calendar.

“Management of the Ghana Education Service wishes to inform you that the reopening date for basic schools (kindergarten, primary and junior high schools) across the country for the first term of the 2023/2024 academic year is October 3, 2023,” a memo signed and issued by the Deputy Director-General of the GES in charge of Quality and Access, Dr Kwabena Bempah Tandoh, said.

The memo, addressed to all regional directors of education, stated that “this brings back the academic calendar to pre-COVID-19.”

COVID-19
On March 16, 2020, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo directed the closure of all schools after the country recorded its initial cases of COVID-19.

The announcement brought all academic activities to a halt, throwing the academic calendar out of gear.

Since then, the beginning of the academic year shifted from September/October to January.

This continued until 2022 when the GES developed a transitional timetable in an attempt to revert the academic calendar to the pre-COVID-19 era.

TWO civil society organisations (CSOs) in education have already hailed the return of the basic school academic calendar to the pre-COVID-19 times.

The CSOs, Africa Education Watch (Eduwatch) and Challenging Heights, in separate interviews, said although the reversal was long overdue, the decision was welcome as it would enable parents, guardians and education authorities to plan effectively unlike the post-COVID era where it was difficult to do so in view of the frequent changes

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