Towards successful double track system

BY: Daily Graphic
Library photo
Library photo

There is no doubt that the introduction of free senior high school (SHS) policy has increased enrolment in schools. Indeed, the policy offers students whose parents and guardians cannot afford school fees and so would have been compelled to sit at home some respite and opportunity to further their education.

Just like every new educational system, the free SHS initiative has come with its own challenges of inadequate infrastructure, such as classrooms, dormitories and teaching and learning materials.

And from September this year, another batch of first-year students will enjoy the free policy, even as efforts are made to address the challenges that cropped up in the first year of its implementation in 2017.

It is for this reason that the government is making efforts to introduce a double track calendar system to be implemented this September to create space for that batch of students who will report to school this September.

According to the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the double track system would not destroy the educational system but, on the contrary, reduce class sizes, increase contact hours between teachers and students and the number of school holidays.

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He explained that the system would not be applied to all schools but those whose current capacity would be exceeded by the number of students admitted.

He said in spite of the existing infrastructure deficit, the government would make sure that no qualified Ghanaian child was left behind.

The free SHS policy started in September 2017 provided an additional 90,000 children the opportunity to benefit from secondary education and in September this year it is expected that 180,000 more students will be admitted to the schools, while an additional 8,000 teachers will also be recruited to take care of the students.

Speaking at the 2018 Asafotufiam Festival of the chiefs and the people of the Ada Traditional Area in the Greater Accra Region, Nana Akufo-Addo acknowledged that every bold initiative that was rolled out experienced some hitches and challenges but said he was inspired by the Chinese adage that said: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.”

The Daily Graphic believes that in all these efforts the government must consider the suggestions offered by critics of the new system, so that it could be fine-tuned to ensure quality and a brighter future for the youth.

There is the need to continuously engage with key stakeholders in the educational sector, such as the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) and civil society groups, to explain the dynamics in the implementation of the programme.

The government must also state clearly the duration of the double intake system and whether it is being implemented to replace the old system of having the schools run on a termly basis or as a short-term intervention to address the existing infrastructure deficit.

Since the programme involves the future of our children and the nation, it is important that our concerns are addressed. We need honest and sincere opinions that can help shape the future of our youth into useful citizens for the accelerated development of the country.

It is also important to embark on an intensive sensitisation drive before schools reopen to educate the public on the programme, not only to rally support for it but also allay the fears of parents and guardians about the seeming confusion over its implementation.

All hands must be on deck in carving out a workable system that will also ensure that secondary education is made generally available and accessible to all by every appropriate means.