The Minister of Education has indicated that the Ministry will be closing down Non-Performing Public Senior High Schools (SHSs) in the country.
The approach considered by the Minister is a poor problem-solving method that must be shelved.
This decision is a lazy approach to tackling the absence of quality education. We lack quality education right at the basic school level and that should be the starting point if we are really interested in permanently fixing the mess and not a quick fix that gets us to know where.
According to the minister, such schools have consistently scored between zero and ten percent pass rate at the WASSCE. We have all been told Free SHS has improved pass rates and performance. Are these students also products of Free SHS? If so, then we have a problem.
The best way to tackle the challenge is to find the root cause of the poor performance of such schools, and learners and then address them.
Poor performance is an issue that can best be dealt with by using the Total Quality approach and analysis, which seeks to know and understand the root causes of problems, low performance, and low productivity.
The root cause approach looks at the factors that contributed to nonconformance and takes proactive strategic steps to eliminate the causes permanently to gradually achieve the desired improvement or results.
Closing down schools for non-performance is a sign of failure, a quick fix that will not deal with the root cause.
The Root Cause Approach or Analysis is the high level of problem-solving procedure needed to transform the so-called non-performing schools. By using RCA tools, approaches, and techniques to bring to the open the factors creating the undesired problem. This problem demands a Root Cause Analysis (RCA), not a quick-fix mindset.
Some Factors Contributing to the Non-Performance of the identified SHSs may include the following.
The caliber of students enrolled
Since 2017, the Ministry of Education and the government, in general, introduced the free SHS and took off the cut-off point to increase access among others. Today, students who made bad grades have been enrolled in SHS, with many of them in Category C schools.
The question is, what kind of good result can such students produce when they obtain grades between 30 and 48 at the BECE? Often, most students with very poor basic education foundations enrolled in less-resourced schools would produce poor results.
The raw materials (BECE graduates) being processed in our secondary schools is one of the major causes of the poor results at the WASSCE.
These learners are also spending fewer contact hours in school over the last 6 years. What good results can we get from such students whose basic education foundation is already weak?
Low Basic School Financing
The country’s deliberate frustration of basic education is another reason why we are producing such results at the SHS level. We have neglected basic schools, which provide learners with the foundation they need to build on when they get to the SHS. Unfortunately, we have frustrated public basic schools by not investing in them to give them the right foundation.
The resources have been channeled into trying to polish students who were in the first place produced by a poorly motivated basic school. There are schools without good classrooms, furniture, books, and even funding for end-of-term examinations is a problem.
Low Teacher and student supervision
Teacher and student supervision remains one of the most mentioned when academic outcomes are that poor but have we also considered as a nation the motivation of teachers in such schools? Motivate teachers at both the basic and second cycle levels so that they can give the best of themselves.
Closing Down Non-Performing SHSs is never the solution we need as a nation.
ROOT CAUSE APPROACHES AND ANALYSIS THE MOE SHOULD CONSIDER TO SOLVE THE NON-PERFORMANCE ISSUE
Instead of closing down schools, we should instead be considering result-oriented and root-cause analysis such as Events and causal factor analysis, change analysis, Barrier analysis, Management oversight and risk tree analysis, and Kepner-Tregoe Problem-Solving and Decision-Making.
These are some of the best TQM approaches to solving complex problems in education, business, and leadership, among others. The minister must shelve the desire to use a lazy approach to close down SHS and set up a committee of Total Quality that expects to unravel the mystery behind the poor performance and also offer professional recommendations.
Upon closing down such schools, what will the schools be used for?
What if the challenge or root cause is not the school but Pre SHS challenges?
What if it is a combination of pre-SHS and Post SHS factors?
What if the problem is the government’s own approach to providing quality education and not the students and or the school management and teachers?
Closing down the schools will never be one of the best ways to address the challenge. Let us use a scientific approach via TQM to resolve the issues.
Source: Wisdom Hammond [Leadership expert, Freelancer, and Educator]