Parliament on Monday passed the Education Amendment Bill, 2010, thus reversing the four-year Senior Secondary School education to three years.
The bill which is to amend education Act 778 was at the consideration stage had members debating on it as if it was at the second reading with the minority against an amendment proposed by the majority to delete a clause in the bill which said that the system should run for ‘not less than’ three years.
To reach an agreement on the clause the First Deputy Speaker, Mr Doe Adjaho called for voting with members queuing to sign their names in the chamber.
Mr Sampson Ahi, member for Juaboso and Mrs Gifty Eugenia Kusi, member for Tarkwa-Nsuaem were the polling agents for the minority side whilst Mr Benjamin Kofi Ayeh, member for Upper Denkyira West and Mr Gershon Gbediame, Majority Chief Whip and member for Nkwanta South, were on the majority side.
But at the end of the vote the majority who were in-favour obtained 106 and the minority who said no had 79 votes.
It all began when Papa Owusu Ankomah member for Sekondi was against the amendment arguing that the education bill should not be made partisan by legislation with Mr Hackman Owusu-Agyemang, member for New Juaben North saying the clause did not merit an amendment.
Mr Cletus Avoka, the Majority Leader, said the bill was precise and clear and thus if the clause was not amended it would make the law ambiguous to have some schools running three years whilst others have four or even six to ten years.
Mr Baladu Manu, member for Ahafo Ano South, said the senior secondary schools did not have the needed infrastructure, motivated teachers and text books and so should be allowed to got through the four years to enable students go through the course outline.
There were two other clauses for which amendments were proposed by Prof Christopher Ameyaw Ekumfi and Dr Mathew Opoku Prempeh for an addition of new sub clauses to the effect that “any second cycle institution in which 75 per cent or more of its candidates could not obtain a minimum of entrance grades for public tertiary institutions shall be considered as a weak school and shall run for a four-year second cycle programme until there was improvement in its achievement.
The second proposed by Dr Prempeh noted that an institution which is running programme and improves its level of achievement and hence qualifies to run a three year programme shall conclude the original duration before a change.”
All these were opposed by the majority with Mr Haruna Iddrisu, Minister of Communications arguing that tertiary education goes beyond university education and the only thing was to challenge the Minister of Education to apply an administrative amendment to address the significant differences in performance.
Mr Joe Gidisu, Minister of Roads and Highways, said the proposed clauses would introduce a class system which would make some schools feel they were backward and others were experts and called for a rejection of the amendment.
This resulted into another vote by head count which ended with the majority obtaining 108 of the votes counted and the minority 78 votes.
Mr Adjaho, therefore announced the end of the amendment of the bill at the consideration stage and made the Minister of Education, Mr Alex Tetey Enyo to move for the bill to be read the third time and was seconded by Mr Joseph Yieleh Chireh, Minister for Local government after which it was passed.