All is set for the take-off of the double-track system as second cycle institutions have positioned themselves to receive the first batch of students under the programme today.
The first batch of students who will be reporting today are those under the Green Track, while the second batch of students, who form the Gold Track, will report to school on November 8, 2018.
The double track is an initiative of the government to address the growing number of students benefiting from the Free Senior High School (SHS) Policy.
At least 490,514 candidates who sat the 2018 Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) qualified to be in senior high schools (SHS) and technical institutes for the commencement of the double-track educational system.
They constitute 90 per cent of the 521,710 candidates who registered for the BECE this year.
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Meanwhile, the Ghana Education Service (GES) has activated a second portal on which BECE candidates who are not able to print their placement forms to go through the admission process can do so.
The two websites are the cssps.gov.gh and myjhssresults.net.
The decision of the GES to add another website, which was used last year by the candidates, is in response to the number of candidates who are unable to print out their placement forms because the first website, cssps.gov.gh, is slow.
Statistics of candidates
A total of 189,323 candidates on the Green Track have so far printed out their placement forms for the admission process, while 173,971 candidates on the Gold Track have also printed their placement forms for the admission process.
At a press conference in Accra on Monday, the Director-General of the GES, Professor Kwasi Opoku Amankwa, assured the candidates that they would not be left behind because of the delay in printing out their placement forms.
The press conference was to update the media on the Free SHS policy, the double-track system and steps being taken to ensure the smooth take-off of the double-track system as the Green Track begins the academic year today.
Prof. Opoku Amankwa recalled that the introduction of the Free SHS policy last year encountered a number of challenges, including the prospectus given to the first-year students by some school authorities.
To prevent the occurrence of any such challenges this year, the director-general said all regional directors of Education met with the Conference of Heads of Assisted Secondary Schools (CHASS) to review and iron out problems that were associated with the introduction of free SHS, especially in respect of prospectus.
“The key thing is for the students to get the basic things that they need. So we don’t want them to give a list that students will not be able to comply with, a tall list of things that they have to provide, such that some students will be disadvantaged or will be prevented from going to school on these bases,” Prof. Opoku Amankwa explained.
He stressed that no student should be denied admission because of his or her inability to provide some of the things the heads would be requiring, adding that no student should be made to provide building materials or plastic chairs.
Prof. Opoku Amankwa, who was supported by his deputy, Lawyer Anthony Boateng, and other directors at the GES, charged the heads of SHSs and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Institute to give reasonable quantities of items to be procured and to desist from giving specific sources for parents to buy certain items outlined in their prospectus.
Transfer and change of status
Prof. Opoku Amankwa said under the current educational system, transfers were permitted under special reasons such as on health grounds, adding that such students would be transferred between schools of comparable levels.
Reports from the regions on Monday indicated that heads of some government assisted SHSs said they were ready for the double-track system while others indicated they had some challenges with Internet accessibility.
From Cape Coast, Timothy Gobah reports that heads of some SHSs in the Central Region said they were prepared for the commencement of the double-track system.
According to them, the teachers and other staff responsible for the first batch had been briefed on the programme and were equally ready for its take-off.
When the Daily Graphic visited some of the schools in Cape Coast yesterday, many parents and guardians had converged on the schools to assist their children and wards to go through the registration processes.
Those who had challenges with the printing of the placement forms of their wards were also busy checking from the various noticeboards displayed at the schools.
At the Adisadel College (Adisco), scores of parents and guardians were seen seated, waiting patiently for their turn to go through the registration formalities.
Although the headmaster of the college was not readily available for comment, a senior staff member told the Daily Graphic that “the headmaster has travelled to Accra, but everything is set for the commencement of the programme”.
The Headmaster of Mfantsipim School, Mr Manfred Oduro, said: “We are prepared, waiting for the students to report on Tuesday.”
He said most of the first-year students had brought their placement forms and received their prospectus, saying “we will reopen on Tuesday for the Green track”.
He said the GES last week fumigated the classrooms, dormitories and the environment against bedbugs, in readiness for academic work to begin.
Checks at the Awudome, Mawuli and OLA SHSs on their preparations for the double-track system showed that heads of the institutions were waiting to receive the students today and to commence the registration process, reports Mary Anane-Amponsah from Ho.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic, the Headmaster of Awudome SHS, Mr Emmanuel Amu, stated that the school was prepared to implement the policy.
"For now we cannot say much until they report to school today. All l can say is that we are expecting 800 students and we are ready for them," he stated.
The Headmaster of Mawuli SHS, Rev. Samuel Senanu Asieni, said the school was set for the reopening except for the challenge of inadequate teachers.
According to him, the school had written to the GES for more teachers for the smooth implementation of the double-track system but was yet to receive a feedback.
Out of the 2,056 students placed in the school, he said, they were expecting 1,857 students to report today.
One parent from Kumasi whose child had gained admission to OLA SHS, explained to the Daily Graphic that she had to be in Ho to enable her daughter to go through the process early so she could return to Kumasi.
From Bolgatanga, Vincent Amenuveve reports that except for a few challenges that had to do with network problems, all the schools visited said they were ready to receive the new students.
The schools are the Bolgatanga Girls SHS (BOGISS), Zamse Senior High Technical School (ZAMSTECH) in Bolgatanga, the Sandema SHS and Navrongo SHS (NAVASCO).
The Assistant Headmaster of the Sandema SHS, Mr Kingsley Azantilow, stated that the challenges included the fact that the tracks that some of the students were placed in were not indicated.
However, he said patronage was high and expressed optimism that those challenges would be addressed soon.
The Headmistress of NAVASCO, Ms Francisca Yizura, said the school had made a formal request for more teachers to cater for the new system.
For her part, the ZAMSTECH Headmistress, Ms Mercy Babacheweh, disclosed that a little over 900 students had been placed in the school.
At the BOGISS, the situation was not different as the authorities also complained of network challenges.
The Upper West Regional Director of Education, Mr Evans Kpebah, has assured the people that the education authorities are ready for the double-track system, writes Emmanuel Modey, from Wa.
Mr Kpebah said so far, 18 SHSs had been earmarked for the take-off of the programme in the region.
In an interview on the preparedness of the schools, the regional director said currently the region had 31 public SHSs, while one more was at Hain but was yet to be absorbed into the public system.
Hundreds of parents have since last Thursday been trooping the various SHSs in the Brong Ahafo Region to register their children for the commencement of the double-track system, report Emmanuel Adu-Gyamerah & Biiya Mukusah Ali.
Some officials of the schools encountered challenges as they worked around the clock to satisfy the large number of parents and candidates because of the slow nature of the Internet.
Out of the 79 SHSs in the region, 40 have been selected to take part in the initiative.
The Headmaster of the Sunyani SHS, Mr Michael Nsiah-Agyapong, told the Daily Graphic that 1,620 first-year students had been allocated to school for both the Green and Gold tracks.
Out of the figure, 1,108 are expected to be boarders, while 512 are to be day students.
Mr Nsiah-Agyapong, however, stated that the school could accommodate about 2,000 boarding students because of the availability of both classrooms and boarding facilities.
“The school is very ready for the take-off of the double-track system since we have the necessary facilities to receive all the students placed here.
“I am pleading that since all the students will not come at the same time and we can admit more students into our boarding facilities, the SHS Secretariat should consider granting the wish of most of the day students who want to be in the boarding house”, he stated.
As of the time of the visit, about 800 out of the 1,620 students allocated to the school had already been registered.
The chaotic scene at the registration centre at the Twene Amanfo Senior High/Technical School, a day school, also in Sunyani, was not different.
According to the Headmistress, Ms Grace Akosua Manu, 1,600 first-year students had been placed in the school.
“We are ready for the new system. We have been well briefed while the necessary documents have been supplied to ensure a smooth take-off of the double-track system,” she said, adding that the only challenge was the pressure on their machines because of the large number of parents trying to register their children.