Government must engage teachers to discuss more important issues such as the provision of adequate resources in the educational sector, instead of seeking to extend teaching hours to keep pupils in school for the convenience of their guardians.
That’s the position of the General Secretary of the Ghana National Association of Teachers(GNAT), David Ofori Acheampong, who contends that the number of hours pupils spend in class will not necessarily improve the standard of education, especially when other critical issues such as the non-availability of text books and teaching materials linger on.
Education Minister, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh has tasked the National Council for Curriculum Assessment to revise the closing time for basic schools.
Instead of the 2pm that basic schools close, the Minister wants the time to be extended to 4pm to make it comfortable for parents and guardians who are usually forced to leave work to attend to their children.
Mr Ofori however believes this would not be in the interest of the system “It’s not even worth it to commit students who are between the ages of five and 15 to do about 10 subjects when we have identified that, the kids cannot read. Are we not sensible enough to reduce the number of subjects to improve upon the reading skills of students than increasing the hours at school? he asked.
He explained in an interview on CitiFM that currently, the basic level has nine periods in a day with each period having 30 minutes and a five-minute break while the Senior High Schools have eight to 10 hours with nine periods. Any extension of the time could lead to extreme exhaustion on the part of pupils who even at that stage have very short attention spans.
The GNAT General Secretary also said extending school hours at the basic level will put extra financial burden on government as teachers will have to be paid for the additional hours.
According to Mr Acheampong, the extra hours will fall outside the time teachers are supposed to work per their service conditions. Government would therefore have to negotiate with the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission for a separate financial arrangement if it is to come into effect.
He also rubbished claims that teachers use school hours to attend funerals and other activities saying there are supervisors who monitor teachers till after closing hours.