Basic schools reopen - As old academic calendar returns
For the first time in three years, Ghanaian schoolchildren will today begin a new academic year in the last quarter of the year instead of January.
This follows a return to the basic school calendar that existed before COVID-19.
Across the country, kindergarten, primary and junior high school (JHS) children will start the new school year since COVID-19 disrupted the old academic year in 2020, necessitating the introduction of the transitional calendar.
About two weeks ago, the Ghana Education Service (GES) announced that the first term of the 2023-2024 academic year would begin on October 3, 2023, in line with the reset calendar.
“Management of the Ghana Education Service wishes to inform you that the reopening date for basic schools (kindergarten, primary and junior high schools) across the country for the first term of the 2023/2024 academic year is October 3, 2023,” a memo signed and issued by the Deputy Director-General of the GES in charge of Quality and Access, Dr Kwabena Bempah Tandoh, said.
The memo, addressed to all regional directors of education, stated that, “this brings back the academic calendar to pre-COVID-19.”
On March 16, 2020, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo directed the closure of all schools after the country recorded its initial cases of COVID-19.
The announcement brought all academic activities to a halt, throwing the academic calendar out of gear.
Subsequently, the beginning of the academic year was shifted from September/October to January.
That arrangement continued until 2022 when the GES developed a transitional timetable in an attempt to revert to the original academic calendar.
In a chat with the Daily Graphic, the Chairman of the GES Council, Michael Nsowah, said the reset of the calendar would eventually affect the entire pre-tertiary educational system.
He said the reset was carefully planned and expressed the hope that all the stakeholders would contribute their quota towards quality education delivery.
Various stakeholders in the educational sector have welcomed the return to the old system.
They include the Teachers and Educational Workers Union, Africa Education Watch (Eduwatch) and Challenging Heights.
They believed that the reset would allow for effective planning, among other things.
Eduwatch and Challenging Heights, for instance, said although the reset was long overdue, the decision was welcome as it would enable parents, guardians and the education authorities to plan effectively unlike the post-COVID era where it was difficult to do so in view of the frequent changes.
A former acting Director-General of the GES, Charles Aheto-Tsegah, who also welcomed the reversion to the old system, said what had happened was evidence that the country was not together with other nations in planning education for the sub-region.
He said the change that came with the school cycle or terms was a clear indication that the country was trying to drift from a system that was in place.
“If we still accepted the fact that we were working within West Africa and our own systems, then we would have transformed our education so that all West
Africa could be doing the same processes as it used to be,” he said.
Mr Aheto-Tsegah said although it was unfortunate that the country’s educational system had to go through a transitional stage during the COVID-19 era, it was good that it was returning to the old order where parents and teachers and other stakeholders could plan effectively.
He said having a “swinging door” approach to the educational system confused parents and was not the best as it made life difficult for them.
“So, I am happy that they are reverting to the old system.
If we want to change we would do that within the comity of nations and ensure that we can all begin to plan to ensure that things work out for all of us.
“So, we are happy that we are gradually returning to the old order,” he said.