Mathematics Academy (MMA) is an off-shoot of MathNED, a
non-governmental organization advocating the revamping
of mathematics education in Ghana. What MathNED
advocates, MMA implements to provide evidence that what
is being advocated can be done. For example, MathNED
advocates nurturing of talents in mathematics, providing
opportunities for students to study mathematics through
activities (practical mathematics), relating mathematics
to real life, and emphasizing conceptual understanding
of mathematics. Our position on the issue under
consideration is informed by our experiences in the
teaching and learning of mathematics. So, any evidence
to support our position will be from mathematics.
Since the Anamoah Report on reforming Ghana’s
education was published, there have been various views
expressed, especially regarding the duration of the
senior high schools. Should it be 3 years or 4 years?
The main issue for us is not and should not be the
duration of the program, but rather the quality of the
products of the program. What skills and competencies
should those who experience and graduate from the
programme exhibit? Having carefully identified the
desirable skills and competencies, then the question of
how long it would take for the skills and competencies
to be acquired becomes relevant.
There are many
things that impinge on the quality of education
experienced by students. These include the curriculum,
adequate and appropriate infrastructure, access to books
and library, equipments for teacher and student use,
teacher motivation and knowledge, and the school
culture, among others.
The report indicates that
although general interviews of a cross-section of people
suggest a 4- year duration of the SHS program, the
technical committee recommends a 3-year duration of the
program. It was explained that certain inadequacies
plaguing the program, if corrected, would not warrant
the extension of the program from the current 3 years to
4 years. MMA agrees with this position.
one year extension guarantee quality when issues of
incoherent curriculum, inadequate and inappropriate
infrastructure, lack of textbooks and equipments for
teaching and learning, low morale of teachers,
ill-prepared teachers, and the like are not corrected?
How come that some schools are doing well within the
same 3 years? Why are the other schools not doing well?
Obviously, it not the number of years spent experiencing
the program. The answers might be somewhere else, but
definitely not with the 3 years spent at the SHS level.
A better organized and implemented mathematics
curriculum, for example, can provide quality in
students’ understanding and use of the principles and
methods of mathematics and this can be achieved in 3
years, even 2 years. Visit MMA for evidence. Topics like
ratio, fractions, proportions, decimals, percentages,
and rates have same or similar concepts (only different
representations) and can be taught together but they are
so spread as to make the load look heavy. There is about
two years’ separation between sets and logic when the
two should be taught together. There are many of such
redundancies and incoherence in the mathematics
curriculum, and if corrected, can remove the illusion of
achieving quality with increase in the duration of the
SHS program. Time gained by addressing these systemic
problems can be used to engage the students in projects
that will challenge them to better understand
mathematics and see the power and beauty of the subject.
A 4-year SHS program might only extend the
inconveniences of students, parents, and teachers. We
better focus on the real issues to provide quality
education to the future leaders of Ghana.