The Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) is cautioning against sacrificing quality of education in the interest of expansion as government gets set to implement new education reforms September this year.

President Kufuor yesterday launched the education reforms program that proposes 11 years of Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education and four years of Senior High School formerly Senior Secondary School.

Speaking in an interview with Joy News, the Deputy General Secretary of GNAT in charge of Education, Mr John Nyoagbe, says attention must be paid to quality.

“You may be talking about expanding access into the various levels of education but if you only increase numbers and you do not actually work on the quality of the curriculum which can train and educate people to develop the necessary knowledge, attitude, social skills and critical thinking to be able to adjust to the emerging Ghanaian society and the globalised world of the 21st century then it means that we as education professionals are not doing much,” Mr Nyoagbe noted.

He says although the intentions for reforms are good, the desired impact can only be achieved if the necessary infrastructure is provided. Mr. Nyoagbe asked government to pay critical attention to the situation and working conditions of teachers in order to attract young people into the profession.

“We must expand the intake into our training colleges that is for the basic level and also put in place incentives to attract the young ones… I have stumbled on some information which says that by 2011 study leave with pay for teachers would be abolished. And if that is part of the preparation that would serve as a very serious disincentive for people wishing to go into teaching,” he alleged.

In a related development, the Greater Accra Regional President of the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), Mr Angel Kabonu, says the reforms have serious implications for the country’s human resource and must be taken seriously.

“We are saying that it is not the matter of staying four years or not but a matter of implications for that four years. The fourth year where are they going to be? Are we sure that by the time they get to the final year all the 500 secondary schools in Ghana have had the full complement of classroom space to accommodate an extra year,” he said.

Mr Kabonu said already the situation is saddled with over population in the schools and it would be difficult getting extra teachers to arrest an imminent burden.

Mr Kabonu said NAGRAT was not consulted at the decision making level. He talks about critical areas that must be tackled for proper implementation of the reforms.

“We have to create an avenue at the tertiary institutions to be ready to absolve those we have educated at the senior secondary schools in the vocational, technical and science education… To motivate more vocational, technical and science teachers to be posted to the various schools to start this new approach. To create a possible change over for those who have had grammar basic education to be able to get into science and vocational education,” he suggested.