In a communiqué issued after its National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting on July 26, 2018, which accordingly deliberated extensively on the double-track system, NAGRAT observed there was the urgent need for government to engage key stakeholders including the religious bodies, community leaders, teachers’ unions, representatives of political parties, among other groups, on the implementation of the free SHS policy.
It said: “While appreciating the enormous pressure on the Ministry of Education and the need to deal with a gap of 181,000 students resulting from the quantum increase in students subsequent to the free Senior High School and removal of the cut-off point by government, we wish to draw government’s attention to the fact that even the best thought-out plan is likely to meet unexpected shocks, hence the need for broader consultation and readiness to engage major stakeholders.”
According to the communiqué, such consultative engagements rather than mere provision of information would contribute to identifying various ways of confronting the challenges facing the free SHS.
The proposed double-track system envisages that SHS Three students will run a trimester system, while SHS Two and SHS One will be on the semester system.
But NAGRAT complained in the communiqué that government had failed to consult its teachers who are going to contribute greatly to the running of the double-track programme.
It states: “National Executive Committee is dismayed that the introduction of such a major policy intervention was not discussed with teachers who will be the main implementers of it.”
“Teachers must understand the system so as to be able to work with it effectively,” according to the communiqué.
“NEC is not clear on the position of house staff and other education support personnel in the school and how their vacations would be managed. It looks clear that the policy did not take this critical issue into consideration,” it added.
The communiqué indicated that “NAGRAT supports the Free SHS policy but believes the method of implementation needs a review. We call on government to allow parents capable of paying to pay for their wards in Senior High Schools.”
It further calls on government to support only the academic aspect of SHS and allow parents to pay for boarding if they opt to send their children to boarding schools.
To help address the issues of students who would not find space in the public schools in these critical times, government needs to, as a matter of urgency, bring the private schools onboard.
It argued that the extension in the daily contact hours would have negative effect on the learning abilities of students, leading to poor outcomes.
On the issue of infrastructural deficit, NAGRAT explained that in the medium term, government must pursue an aggressive infrastructural development and expansion to accommodate the increasing number of students.
“Government must prioritize and complete ongoing infrastructural project began by previous governments,” it urged.