Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions have called on government to take a second look at the course outline that comes with the Free Senior High School Policy. They explained that the new course outline does not give them enough hours to carry out practical lessons; a situation they fear would affect the quality of students they produce.
Prior to the revision of the timetable, teachers could spend a whole day teaching students how to dismantle and re-assemble engine blocks and how to properly construct walls among others, but now, they have to do that in about 4 hours. The time, they said was woefully inadequate.
The Assistant Headmaster in Charge of Academics at the St. John’s Technical and Vocational School, Patrick Naazie disclosed this while interacting with the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) at the school premises in Nandom in the Upper West Region.
The Assisstant Headmaster in Charge of the school, Patrick Naazie said due to the Free SHS Policy, many students register and report to school early but the policy still had several challenges.
“One thing I think maybe a challenge is the drawing boards or drawing instruments that we need for the students in the class. You cannot say you are a technical man or woman and cannot draw but before you draw you need a drawing board in the class for the practical work to go on for you to see.”
“Because it is free if you ask a student to buy a drawing board, it is going contrary to what the guidelines [Free SHS] are,” he lamented.
Mr. Naaize added that “last year they [government] gave us only thirty pieces and you can imagine the number of students that we had last year which one will you give [the drawing boards] to and leave the other?”
Mr Naazie was unhappy that new guidelines did not allow for Heads to take certain decisions to benefit the progress of the students.
Touching on the quality of food since the introduction of the Free SHS Policy, school authorities agreed that the food they make is better and healthier. They said they are now able to serve students with tin fish, enough milk and are also given flour to bake bread for the students and situation which did not exist before.
They were however, unhappy about the quality of foodstuff brought in by some food suppliers. They complained about weevils in the polished rice and maize, flour in the millet, burnt maize, poor quality groundnut seeds among others.
The Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) led by its chairman, Dr. Steve Manteaw was in the Upper West Region to inspect the progress of projects supported with petroleum revenues. The Committee visited the St. John’s Technical and Vocational School in Nandom to find out some of the positives and negatives of the Fee SHS policy since its inception.
The Vice Chairman of PIAC, Dr. Thomas Kojo Stephens was worried about the nature of some of the foodstuffs that were supplied to the school as part of the Free SHS policy.
“It [the Free SHS] has its good sides. The Headmasters note that the students now come to school on time. At the beginning of the term the students are all here. In terms of the quality of the food, they know that the quality of food has improved. At St. Johns it’s a bit peculiar because while they note that the quality of the food has improved, they also know that in terms of the supplies which are provided, it still needs to be improved,” he explained.
He admitted that “it terms of the supply, the quality is not as good as it could be.”
The Vice Chairman of PIAC was also unhappy about how the technical school had been lumped up with the Senior High Schools saying “this is a technical/vocational school, and unfortunately emphasis is being placed on it as if it is your typical SHS. So things like the practical tools that they need in order to train the students is inadequate. So it puts a constraint on the teachers in terms of the training of the students.”
Dr. Stephens said PIAC will make public by the end of the year, a comprehensive report on the positives and negatives of the policy. The team earlier held a forum at the Nandom District Assembly Hall to inform residents on how government has been spending oil revenues from 2011.
Story by Mark Smith