The government has started the disbursement of $500 million (about GH¢2.45 billion) realised at the back of inflows into the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) for the completion of classroom blocks in senior high schools (SHSs).
About 766 abandoned and new structures will be completed across the country, especially in schools running the double-track system, to provide enough classrooms to phase out the system for second-year students from September this year.
A Deputy Minister of Education, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, told the Daily Graphic in an interview that the current first-year free SHS students who were running the double-track system would enjoy single track when the 2019/20 academic year commenced in September this year.
That meant that the double track would only be operational at the first-year level, as the students would move on to a single track when they progressed to the second and the third years.
“The good news is that construction has already begun throughout the country and as a result we will be able to offer space to the form two students, so that they will not be on double track. This means that only form one students will be on double track,” Dr Adutwum explained.
He said while some of the contracts had been awarded, another lot would be awarded at the end of the month.
“As we speak, some have already ‘broken ground’ to commence work,” he said, and explained that the contractors had been given six months to complete the structures.
He said some of the contractors who had abandoned their projects halfway because there were no funds had been paid for them to resume work.
Dr Adutwum said since funding was available, the contractors would have no excuse for not completing the projects on schedule.
The deputy minister said the double track system was on the right track and that the President had provided everything that was required for its smooth implementation.
The $500 million is part of $1.5 billion being raised by the government from both local and international sources, using 40 per cent of inflows into the GETFund as security.
Securitisation is a common practice in developed countries where funds are borrowed or bonds issued at the back of expected inflows from reliable sources.
The Ministry of Education sought parliamentary approval for the securitisation of the GETFund to enable it to complete abandoned projects and start new ones to augment educational infrastructure across the country, especially in second-cycle institutions.
Necessity for double track
Dr Adutwum reiterated the fact that the double track system was necessary to increase enrolment and enable students who, under normal circumstances, would have missed out on secondary education the opportunity to access education.
It was also important towards decongesting classrooms, he said, adding that “for now the country is awaiting the second batch of double-track students this year”.
The deputy minister said education was important to the President and so he would not allow any policy that would lower standards.
He expressed gratitude to the President for his commitment to education and making everything possible for the prosecution of a unique educational agenda.
Double track system
The double-track SHS system under the free SHS policy was introduced by the government last year to cater for the increase in enrolment.
According to the government, the move was to ensure that no qualified child was left out of SHS admission.
Under the free SHS policy, no fees are charged for admission, library, science centres, computer laboratory, utilities and internal examination.
Apart from that, the government provides free textbooks, boarding and meals for the students.
Day students also get a meal at school for free. The programme also covers agricultural, vocational and technical institutions at the high school level.