Free SHS: GES must establish manageable class size - NAGRAT

By Kwabena Owusu-Ampratwum

The National Association of Graduate Teachers, NAGRAT says it will demand from the Ghana Education Service, GES, the establishment of an appropriate class size for the Senior High School, SHS, level.

According to Vice President of NAGRAT, Angel Karbonu, the free SHS policy has resulted in higher than usual number of students per class, a situation which could militate against the objectives of the policy.

He said some classes in many SHS's have over 50 students and for some subjects up to 80, making it extremely difficult for a teacher to control the class and for effective teaching and learning to go on.

"You cannot have over 50 students in a classroom and think you are teaching effectively, in other jurisdictions, there is no classroom in Senior High School level that is over 30 students," he said

Speaking on an Accra based radio station, Mr Karbonu noted the situation is adversely affecting the type of exercises, assessment and remedial measures to ensure appropriate teaching an learning is taking place in the school.

"From reports that we have gathered, we realise that there are some schools in urban and peri-urban areas, where class sizes are getting beyond the management limit of the teachers, we are really going to demand class sizes that are of internationally accepted levels, we can no longer continue imagining and making up class sizes based on needs and wants" Mr Karbonu stressed.

He said the GES while being bold to implement the free SHS policy, have shied away from discussions on the appropriate class size, a discussion which can no longer wait.

The implementation of the free SHS policy by government has met many challenges; inadequate classrooms and dormitories, delays in the supply of some teaching and learning materials as well as other logistics.

President Akufo-Addo has admitted every new policy will come with challenges in the implementation phase, a study over time and the formulation of measures to address the challenges that arise, will ultimately shape the free SHS policy for the better.

The Vice President of NAGRAT however believes some of the issues must be addressed immediately. He contends there is the need for a national discussion on class sizes right from the basic to and beyond the SHS level. There must be adequate research conducted for scientific models that fit the educational system in the country, and this must be fully implemented, he stressed.

Mr Karbonu said besides the larger class sizes, the schools lac other materials such as laboratory equipment. Government has promised to eventually supply them but at the moment it is hampering academic work and with a defined curricula and term time, the students might be shortchanged if the materials do not arrive on time.

He wants a template of materials that are supposed to be supplied and a timeous supply of these materials in order to arrest the situation, cautioning that until these teething challenges are addressed int he shortest time, the gains expected of the free SHS policy, may not fully materialize.