We have a fundamentally huge problem at hand in our grade ‘C’ Senior High Schools which demands our urgent attention. Unfortunately, the Minister for Education has chosen a rather surfaced effort to attempt addressing a deep issue that requires serious intervention.
Rather than address the factors that make a school grade ‘A’ and another grade ‘C’, our Minister for Education is talking about affiliations, whereby grade ‘C’ schools are paired with grade ‘A’ schools. It is expected that the grade ‘A’ schools will provide mentorship to the grade ‘C’ schools, and the grade ‘C’ schools will imbibe best practices from the grade ‘A’ schools.
The proposed method of addressing underperformance in schools classified as grade ‘C’ has been badly exposed by some of the very variables used to differentiate between a grade ‘A’ and a grade ‘C’ school. The criteria or indicators used include whether or not a school enjoys the best or worse of the following: 1) Subscription (CSSPS); 2) Infrastructure; 3) WASSCE pass rate; 4) Location; and 5) Enrolment.
Undeniably, the adoption of best practices is necessary for institutional growth. However, this simplistic approach to dealing with underperformance in less-endowed Senior High Schools by mere affiliation with grade or category ‘A’ schools, without dealing with the fundamental challenges, will not work.
The fundamentals in grade ‘C’ schools ought to be in place first before trying to incorporate best practices from the grade ‘A’ schools. The conditions present in grade ‘A’ schools ought to be replicated in grade ‘C’ schools to make indoctrination of the practices in the performing schools possible. What is mentoring going to do when the conditions are not right in the grade ‘C’ schools?
Is the Minister for Education saying he does not know why some schools are not performing? If a school is non-performing because of no science laboratory, no computer laboratory, no library, no teachers for core subjects, no accommodation to attract teachers, no transport for the head and the school, among others, how does affiliation to a grade ‘A’ school solve these problems and raise the standard of performance?
Quite clearly, my former school, Sandema Senior High Technical School, lacking basic necessities like well-equipped science and computer laboratories, well stocked library, adequate students and teachers accommodation, adequate textbooks, adequate teachers, can not just by affiliation and mentorship perform like Prempeh College or Wesley Girls.
To be blunt about it, if the Minister moves the entire academic and non-teaching staff from a grade ‘C’ to a grade ‘A’ school, nothing will change in the grade ‘C’ school on their return, if they do not have the conditions and facilities in the grade ‘A’ school they went to for mentoring and to imbibe best practices.
The provision of adequate infrastructure, well-equipped laboratories (Science and Computer), well-stocked libraries, textbooks, adequate teachers for all subjects, and adequate furniture, will remedy the under performance in grade ‘C’ schools. Affiliation and mentorship alone will not change the plight of grade ‘C’ schools.
Dr. Clement Apaak
M.P, Builsa South and Deputy Ranking Member, Education Committee of Parliament