Stakeholders welcome return to old academic calendar - As new year begins
Teachers, parents and school authorities have welcomed the return to the pre-COVID-19 academic calendar, which was set at September to July, describing it as better than the transitional one.
The pre-COVID academic calendar, which they termed as ‘regular schedule’ allowed for better planning for the effective delivery of education to children in the country as it provided enough contact hours with students.
Also, the commencement of the academic year in the third quarter of the year would afford parents the opportunity to purchase stationery and other educational items instead of January, when they might have spent their money as a result of the Christmas festivities.
The teachers, parents and school authorities spoke in separate interviews with the Daily Graphic during a tour of some schools in Accra following the reopening of schools for the 2023-2024 academic year.
The institutions visited included the Rev. Thomas Clegg Methodist ‘1’ Basic School, Bubiashie/Cable and Wireless Cluster of Schools, Kaneshie Basic School, Bishop Junior High School and the Kaneshie Cluster of Schools.
Since 2021, the academic calendar for basic and senior high schools had been rescheduled for January to December, after schools were closed in March 2020, as part of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 which had become a global pandemic.
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.”
Thus, yesterday (October 3), Ghanaian basic schoolchildren returned to school to begin a new academic year.
During the visit to the schools, the Daily Graphic observed that schoolchildren had reported to school and were settling in their new classes, having been promoted.
Also, some parents accompanied by their children were seen trooping to the schools, ostensibly to seek admission, particularly, into Primary One.
Other schools had also put out vacancy notices on their compounds for prospective students.
Again, while some of the classrooms were filled, others were half empty and school heads who pleaded anonymity said few students had reported to school because it was the first day.
The Chairman of Zone Five of the Ghana National Association of Private Schools (GNAPS), Emmanuel Sowah, said the new calendar, with its focus on extended breaks and international alignment, appeared to offer certain advantages.
However, he said its successful implementation and the ability of schools and students to adapt were essential factors in determining its long-term viability.
A teacher at the Richard Akwei Memorial School, Gifty Aku Mensah, said it was refreshing to revert to the pre-COVID calendar which allowed for some break and rest for both learners and teachers.
She said the transitional calendar put too much stress on teachers and students as they had little time for break.
The headteacher of the Oyibi Presbyterian Basic School, Gloria Cann, said she also preferred the old calendar to the new one.
She said her school was mostly admitting for Primary One, as the rest of the classrooms for continuing students were full.
A teacher at the Pantang Hospital Primary School, Sally Yeboah, described the September to July calendar as a universal academic schedule, thus, it helped both parents and teachers to plan.
A parent, Prosper Afetsi, who also hailed the old calendar, expressed the hope that it would be smooth and uninterrupted by anything.
“We all have seen the impact the COVID-19 has had on, particularly academic work.
Hopefully, we will be spared another emergency which will again affect school work,” he said.