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General News of Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Source: Daily Graphic

Bring back 4-year SHS system - Catholic Bishops

The Ghana Catholic Bishops' Conference has reiterated its call on the government to bring back the four-year system of Senior High School (SHS) for the country to know its full benefits and disadvantages before deciding to make any changes or switch to other systems.

It stated that there was no denying the fact that, it was possible for students to finish the academic syllabus within three years, given greater commitment on the part of the teachers and co-operation from students.

"But basing ourselves on the testimony of teachers and the formative needs of the students, we urge that the four years SHS programme be brought back," it stated.

It would be recalled that at the 2011 Catholic Bishops' Conference held in Takotadi, the church made the same appeal to the government to maintain the four-year SHS system to enable the nation determine its full benefits and disadvantages.

The President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference, Most Rev. Joseph Osei-Bonsu, made the call when he read a communiqué issued at the close of a week-long 2012 Annual Plenary of the Ghana Catholic Bishops' Conference in Koforidua last Thursday.

The event was attended by four archbishops and 14 bishops from the various Catholic Churches in Ghana.

The President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference also appealed to the government to reconsider the challenges involved in the computerised system of placing students in schools, saying that "these challenges are well known to the state, parents and guardians".

He also stated that the church had taken notice of recent call for freedom of worship in second cycle schools in the country by President John Dramani Mahama at the last Eid-ul-Adha celebration.

"We like to state that the Catholic Church respects and practises freedom of worship in our schools.

"We, however, like to raise this concern that what some are calling for in the name of freedom of worship could lead to very complex challenges of indiscipline, and other pitfalls for education delivery for our schools", stated.

He, therefore, called for a broader involvement of all stakeholders and a very careful study of what the right of freedom of worship should mean in practice, and its implications for schools and for education delivery in the country.

Most Rev. Osei-Bonsu called on Ghanaians to endeavour to rise above their ethnic and tribal boundaries and consider themselves as one people in spite of their differences, especially as the December elections drew nearer.

"It is against this backdrop that we appeal to all Ghanaians to see our country Ghana as one extended African family with the President as the head of this family", he said.

With regard to the Presidential Act, Most Rev Osei-Bonsu commended the executive, legislature and all Ghanaians for the various roles they played in the passage of the Presidential Transition Act.

"This Act, we hope, will, to a large extent, address unacceptable political practices and enhance transparency and accountability in the management of public assets".

"We urge all, especially politicians, to be open-minded about the Act as we recommend to the government to put the necessary institutions in place for the implementation," Most Rev. Osei Bonsu stated.

The president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference further commended the government for the Constitution review process aimed at introducing reforms to the 1992 Constitution after 20 years of democratic practice.

"We note that the government has issued a white paper on the Commission's Report and has inaugurated the Constitutional Review Implementation Committee. It is our expectation that the process will continue to be open, participatory and inclusive to deepen our democracy and governance for the well-being of citizens.

"In this vein we look forward to reforms that will expand economic, social and cultural rights, and strengthen national institutions and systems that reduce bribery and corruption, and ensure the elimination of the death penalty," added Most Rev. Osei-Bonsu.

With regard to the National Development Plan he expressed the church's happiness with the appointment of a body to develop a national plan that would be generally acceptable to all Ghanaians, saying that the short term nature of the present "Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda" did not adequately meet the development needs of Ghanaians.

"We therefore wish to endorse the proposal of the Constitutional Review Commission to have a medium to long-term development plan. Such a provision should be entrenched in the constitution to make successive governments abide by the plan.

"This, we believe, will stop the practice whereby the development of our country is subjected to the party manifesto of the government in power," Most Rev. Osei Bonsu said.

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