Double track SHS - for rich and poor children

BY: Emmanuel Bonney
The 2018 BECE candidates will be the first batch of SHS students for the double track system.
The 2018 BECE candidates will be the first batch of SHS students for the double track system.

The double track Senior High School (SHS) educational system is to create an opportunity for all Ghanaian children, irrespective of their background to have equal access to quality second cycle education under the free SHS Policy, a Deputy Minister of Education, Dr Yaw Adutwum, has said.

He explained that the new system was to ensure that the country produced future leaders who would compete effectively with others across the world and be able to transform the country.

“The fundamental basis of the free SHS as championed by the president is to create a level playing field for the poor and the rich. The objective of this system is for the betterment of this nation,” he said.

Dr Adutwum said this at the Daily Graphic Dialogue on Education in Accra last Wednesday. The event was on the theme: “Unpacking the double-track system: Implications for sustainable financing and prospects for educational quality in Ghana”.

The dialogue, which was organised by the Graphic Communications Group Ltd (GCGL), was sponsored by Star Ghana, the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) Ghana and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with Joy FM and Citi FM as media partners.

Dr Adutwum dismissed the argument by some members of the public that the double track system would lead to an increase in teenage pregnancy among girls who would go on holidays for a long period, while their mates were in school during the operation of the new system.

He said for instance that, 70 per cent of SHS students in the Greater Accra Region were day students, and that “nobody has said that teenage pregnancy in Greater Accra is higher than anywhere in Ghana”.

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“They (day students) move from school to their homes every day and during the vacation they are at home. So if somebody comes home for two months and you say that is what would lead to an increase in teenage pregnancy, then all the girls in SHS in Greater Accra would be pregnant,” he said.

Dr Adutwum called on Ghanaians to support the government in the implementation of the double track system since it was for the benefit of all children, especially those who would have missed out on SHS education as a result of the lack of vacancies in schools.

Moreover, he said the double track system was to deal with overcrowding which came with the introduction of the free SHS policy.

The acting Managing Director of the GCGL, Mr Ransford Tetteh, believed that the double track system was being adopted to deal with the situation where some students qualified for admission to SHS but were not able to go to school because of limited vacancies in the schools.

The Director of Programmes of CDD-Ghana, Dr Franklin Oduro, said the CDD was more concerned about how the double track system ensured quality in the educational system.

The Programme Director of Star Ghana, Mr Amidu Ibrahim-Tanko said education was important for the development of the country, and so there was the need to get everything right in order not to destroy the future of children.

A former Director-General of the Ghana Education Service (GES), Mr Charles Tsegah, said although the double track system was good, there was the need to do more analyses since there was a large number of students involved.

For his part, the General Secretary of the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), Mr Samuel Frank Dadzie, warned that members of the association would not go to school if the double track teaching timetable was extended to the weekend.