An examination of policy and practice in Ghanaian education, with special reference to the junior secondary school reform
The decision to undertake this research was a pragmatic response to the debates which followed the introduction of a new innovative secondary education system in Ghana. This paper will investigate the said innovation during its formation since 1974, inception from 1987 and, in respect of field research, aspects of its operation from 1998 to 2000. The innovation was designed as a complex package offering an integrated approach to change educational values, orientation and learning outcomes. The changes subsumed in each aspect of the innovation have far-reaching implications for the entire education system. One element, the vocationalised curriculum, caused immediate concern at the time of implementation because of pre-existing evidence of similar attempts made previously in Ghana and other countries which yielded unsatisfactory results. This concern was increased by the complexity of subsequent changes in the examination system and in the new structure of Junior Secondary Schooling (JSS). Furthermore, there were mixed opinions regarding a new emphasis on the individual learner as the focus of school activities augmented by the introduction of guidance and counselling. The primary aim of the research was to monitor the implementation processes in as many aspects as possible. This was done in order to see what benefits might be gained, and what lessons in order to continue the innovation. In order to conduct this assessment it was necessary to examine critically the characteristics of each element of the reform and their implications, using a variety of research methods to generate relevant data. This approach yielded a substantial amount of original evidence on the dynamics of educational change. While this evaluation specifically helps to deepen understanding of the said innovation, it also makes a contribution to the literature on educational innovation in developing countries. The particular theoretical framework used to direct analysis of the processes is derived from the IAC evaluation model developed by Havelock and Huberman (1977) and is used in their study of educational innovations in the developing countries. The theory proposes that a large and complex problem requires a sophisticated level of competency to handle it. An innovative situation requires an efficient system in order to muster the relevant level of IAC factors as were required. This paper explores and extends the IAC model by incorporating the new research regarding the Ghanaian educational innovation. In this new dimension, the Ghanaian model has tended to display far more interactive and cohesive characteristics than in the original Havelock and Huberman study, thus making the measure for success relatively more complex. There is overwhelming evidence to show that by the end of its second cycle in December 1999, none of the JSS innovation components had been in any way implemented. In all respects, the level of systemic competency was far below what was demanded by the innovation. When placed in the framework of the IAC theoretical model, analysis of the conclusive empirical findings provides key recommendations for future innovative educational projects. Crucial coordinating factors must be considered and necessarily established to ensure that strategies are put in place which strengthen the infrastructure. This coordinating initiative should encompass internal and external logistics coordination for resource persons and materials, while simultaneously linking the organizational management of the project with key administrative, political, and social interest groups.