The Minister of Education Dr. Mathew Opuku Prempeh on last Tuesday 8th August, 2017. Whiles speaking at the National Education Sector Review Forum in Accra on the theme “Strengthening Accountability for results” Tasked the National Council for Curriculum Assessment to revise the closing time for public basic schools in Ghana. The observation and subsequent proposal by the sector minister has generated controversy, between and among stakeholders particularly parents and teachers.
The above minister’s proposal to extend contact hours in basic schools from 2pm to 4pm has become a greater issue of a greater public interest concern and hence the need for stakeholders in educational programmes and policies to weight the available options and make the best decision in the larger public interest.
Presently there is no research findings to establish the fact that closing late or early can improve the teaching and learning in our basic schools, since some countries like France, United States of America and other countries close 1pm earlier than the closing time in Ghana and yet we cannot compare the quality of their teaching and learning to ours, the Minister’s argument has its own merits and demerits to the pupils, teachers and the parents.
We believe such proposals need a broader consultation with the fair wages and salary commission and the teacher unions to agree on a pay increase for the teachers to cover the additional two hours extra time being proposed, since most teachers especially the youthful ones will not commit themselves if their salaries is not increased to commensurate the additional time added.
The 2pm closing time has economic and social benefits, as most students after school are used by parents as economic assets helping them (parents) in their trade and in some cases as farm help hands in the farming communities, there is also the disadvantage of being restless at home when the parents have not closed from work and also the temptation of following bad friends to pick defiant and negatives behaviors at the blind side of both parents and teachers.
More so, the proposed 4pm closing time has also got the advantage of keeping pupils busy at school prevent them from picking defiant behaviors in absence of their parents and teachers. It also gives both teachers and pupils to cover more syllabus and have enough and sufficient time for better and effective teaching and learning, and also have ample time for advance preparation towards examination.
In this case the parents can save money meant for extra classes and also be assured of the child’s safety from unnecessarily roaming after school.
Our reason for an increased pay for the teachers concern is to do away with the view of the public that teachers spend lesser hours of the constitutional work period of 8 hours as a reason for the lower income to counter the view point and build a sufficient grounds to demand an equally high pay enjoyed by their colleagues in other public sector of the working population.