Teacher Unions and GES Collaborate to Realign SHS Calendar

Teacher Unions and GES Collaborate to Realign SHS Calendar

Teacher unions are currently engaged in discussions with the Ghana Education Service (GES) regarding the synchronization of the senior high school (SHS) academic calendar with that of the basic school.

This initiative follows the recent reversion of the basic school academic calendar to its pre-COVID-19 schedule, effective from the 2023/24 academic year. Under the revised calendar, basic schools will commence their academic year on Tuesday, October 3, 2023, and conclude it on July 25, 2024.

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However, senior high schools (SHSs) are still operating on the transitional calendar, which runs from January to December each year.

To address this misalignment, the General Secretary of the Teachers and Educational Workers Union (TEWU), Mark Denkyira Korankye, shared with the Daily Graphic that the teacher unions are collaborating with the GES to realign the calendars of the first and second cycle schools.

Mr. Korankye elaborated that a recent meeting between the unions and the GES aimed to find a way to incorporate the senior high school system into the basic school calendar, achieving a harmonized program.

The TEWU General Secretary emphasized that they have consistently advocated for a return to the pre-COVID-19 schedule, where the academic year would commence in September or October and conclude in June, allowing for a more extended vacation period starting from July.

He further expressed concerns about the current system, where students have short breaks and parents face difficulties in planning due to frequent school fee payments.

Mr. Korankye stressed the importance of restructuring the academic calendar to restore a September-October to June-July cycle.

He welcomed the revised calendar for basic schools, stating that it enables better planning and preparation for teachers and administrators, benefiting various education stakeholders.

Background: The Ghana Education Service decided to revert to the pre-COVID-19 academic calendar for basic schools following the conclusion of the 2022 academic year.

This means that the first term of the 2023/2024 academic year will commence on October 3, 2023, as per the adjusted calendar.

The decision to return to the pre-COVID-19 calendar was communicated through a memo signed by Dr. Kwabena Bempah Tandoh, Deputy Director-General of the GES in charge of Quality and Access, addressed to all regional directors of education.

This change aimed to bring the academic calendar back to its state before the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 Impact: The closure of all schools in Ghana was ordered by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on March 16, 2020, following the emergence of COVID-19 cases in the country.

This closure disrupted the academic calendar, leading to a shift from the traditional September/October start to the academic year to a January commencement.

This continued until 2022 when the GES introduced a transitional timetable in an effort to restore the pre-COVID-19 academic calendar.

Positive Reception: Two civil society organizations in the education sector, Africa Education Watch (Eduwatch) and Challenging Heights, have lauded the return of the basic school academic calendar to its pre-COVID-19 schedule.

They view this decision as overdue but welcome, as it allows for effective planning by parents, guardians, and education authorities, in contrast to the post-COVID era when frequent changes made planning challenging.

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