Here’s Why GES introduced Semester System For JHS

Back in 2022, the Ghana Education Service (GES) unveiled the innovative semester system academic calendar for both basic and Senior High School (SHS) students across the nation.

Dr. Kwabena Bempah Tandoh, the Director-General of GES in Charge of Access and Quality, affirmed in an interview on Citi FM that the semester system would not just be a passing trend but the new educational norm in Ghana.

Why GES Introduced Semester System

This shift in the academic calendar has since been met with curiosity and support, primarily driven by four crucial reasons:

  • Alignment with the University System: One of the key reasons of introducing the semester system in basic and JHS education is to harmonize the academic calendar with the university system.
  • Facilitating Teacher Development: The semester system creates a conducive environment for teachers who wish to pursue further studies through sandwich programs. It allows them the flexibility to attend lectures without compromising their teaching duties.
  • Mitigating Absenteeism: The change addresses a long-standing issue of absenteeism among JHS (Junior High School) students during the Trimester system, which ran counter to the KG and Primary School calendars. Some students were compelled to stay home to look after younger siblings during vacations, affecting their attendance and performance. The semester system alleviates this concern by ensuring that all levels of education follow a similar schedule.
  • Parents in Greater Accra and other regions have voiced concerns about the inconveniences they face when their younger children are on break while their older siblings are still in school: The semester system aims to provide a more synchronized academic calendar, reducing the logistical challenges faced by working parents.

Concerns About The Semester System Introduced

However, the new system has not been without its share of concerns. Some teachers have raised issues related to the proposed allocation of periods, particularly regarding pre-instructional time activities such as cleaning, morning assembly, and roll call. Furthermore, there are debates surrounding the increased length of the school day and whether proper consultations with teacher unions have taken place.

Critics have also expressed reservations about potential changes that could impact teacher responsibilities. For instance, the proposal implies that supervising learners in preparing the school environment for learning may no longer be a teacher’s responsibility, possibly leading to the employment of additional cleaners.

Additionally, the morning assembly, registration, and closing assembly are being deemed voluntary activities, putting more emphasis on instructional hours. Teachers are expected to teach regardless of the cleanliness of the school compound or classrooms, and their responsibilities are expected to conclude within an 8-hour timeframe.

It’s worth noting that not everyone is in favor of a permanent semester academic calendar for basic and secondary schools. Groups like Eduwatch have voiced their opposition to this educational shift, raising concerns and advocating for a comprehensive assessment of its implications.