The Northern Region Director of the Ghana Education Service (GES), Mr Mohammed Harun says the region is ready to implement the Double Track System of Free Senior High School (SHS) Education after receiving
excess supply of foodstuffs from the National Buffer Stock Company .
Some participants at the Daily Graphic/STAR-Ghana National Dialogue on Education held on Tuesday in Tamale envisaged that the double-track which seeks to address infrastructural challenges brought on by the Free SHS will collapse an already overburdened programme in the region which has perennially been bedevilled by delays in the release of feeding grants.
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However, Mr Harun in an interview on the sidelines of the programme assured that even before the first-year students report to their campuses the GES was in possession of an oversupply of foodstuffs from the National Buffer Stock Company.
He said: “The Northern Region is more than ready for the double track system because we have been given the selected schools and we have no problem Double Tracking. We are welcoming it with open arms.
“Already we even have over-supply of foodstuffs from the buffer stock (National Buffer Stock Company) in some of our schools. So as for the foodstuff, we know they are going to be available and that is why we are not afraid.
“The feeding will cover both tracks, it’s not that one track will have and another track will not have. The two tracks are both going to benefit from the buffer stock supply so there will be enough and with the government policy of Planting for Food and Jobs there will be very cheap food at affordable prices available at the farm gate and so our schools will get enough. And so we are just happy to embrace the double track system,” a confident Mr Harun stressed.
Lessons to be learnt from Northern Free SHS
According to him, there Double Track System which will be implemented nationwide can learn a lot from a version of the Free SHS programme which has run for decades in the Northern region.
He said that programme was started with a 10million pound fund from the British government in pre-independence Ghana and it only covered feeding grants, books and tuition with the District Assembly providing school uniforms.
Mr Harun predicted that the introduction of the double track system will start a domino effect which will result in massive numbers of students seeking admission into the universities.
He said the universities must be readied to receive the numbers of students who will qualify for admission under the double track system.
Categorization of Schools influenced double tracking
A panellist at the dialogue Mr Charles Aheto Tsegah, a former Deputy Director-General of the GES bemoaned the creation and circulation of lists purporting to rank SHS’s in the country.
He said although WAEC and other institutions have discredited such lists, they have created a warped increase of applications to certain schools which can only accept such numbers under the policy.
“The categorization of schools has created a warped increment in certain schools. So certain people think Wesley Girls is good… So everybody wants to go to Wesley Girls and Wesley Girls has space for about 500 students, an exaggeration but it can’t take the 10,000 children that apply to the place and some children will have to be cut out and everyone starts complaining,” Mr Tsegah lamented.
“So, that is the challenge that we have. In trying to hype certain schools as Category A, well endowed, well performing and at the end of the day that tells people where to go to the detriment of some other schools that have spaces and that is not in our interest.
“Boarding schools are good but that is not what we want to encourage, people should go to school in their communities. That is why the double-track system is there because everybody wants to go to Wesley Girls, why do you want to leave somebody out?”
Daily Graphic/STAR-Ghana Dialogue on Education
The dialogue held in Tamale was on the theme, “61 Years of ‘Free Education’ in Northern Ghana: The Myths, Realities, Dynamics, Challenges and Learning Curves for Free SHS Policy”.
It was the fourth in the series organized by the Daily Graphic in partnership with STAR-Ghana and support from the Centre for Democratic Development.
Similar engagements with stakeholders in the education sector have already been held in Accra, Takoradi (August 17) and Cape Coast (August 23). The final dialogue will be held on September 5 in Kumasi.