Former Deputy Minister of Education, Okudzeto Ablakwa has rubbished government’s claims that the double-track system will address challenges associated with the free SHS policy.
At a press conference on Tuesday, the Minister of Education, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, defended the government’s decision to resort to the system, saying it had saved the country over one billion Ghana cedis.
But speaking on Eyewitness News, Mr Ablakwa, disagreed, saying that the NDC’s community day schools would have been a better solution to these challenges.
“That explanation is certainly not convincing. When President Mills was sworn in 2009, he was able to anticipate that in a year, he will be dealing with a similar situation that we are dealing with now so what Professor Mills was not to sit and wait, sleep on the job, not show visionary leadership and then to offer excuses and impose a shift system or double track system.
“This is what government should have done. Last year, government should have anticipated and continued with the Community Day Schools which we rolled out. Remember that we had rolled out the construction of 124, 53 of them have been completed but for those 53 schools, the implementation of the free SHS policy would not have been possible.”
He believes the government’s decision to introduce the double track system will only create more challenges.
“If the current government, knowing that anytime we have introduced social intervention, enrollment numbers have gone up, they should have been able to anticipate and put in place the needed intervention because all the experts agree that the double track system leads to dwindling quality that is why the government itself is saying that this is a temporary measure and they are hoping that we will come back to the current system. We are talking about human lives. Why experiment with the future of our country to such needless experimentation because of improper planning?”
The government has decided to implement the double track calendar system for senior high schools due to infrastructure challenges.
The new calendar system which will start in September 2018 will have high students attending school at different times of the year.
However, since the announcement of the policy, many Ghanaians including educationists have raised concerns about the impact of the schedule on teaching and learning.
Former President John Mahama called for a national consultation to build a sustainable framework for the implementation of government’s Free Senior High School policy.
According to Mr Mahama, the mode of implementation for the Free SHS on an ad-hoc basis is improper.
Ex-President Mahama tweeted that proposals made by the government to modify Senior High Education in the country through the double-track system should be subjected a broad stakeholder consultation adding that it is not too late to revise the Free SHS policy.
This new system will run in all the categories A and B senior high schools in the country.
The new programme creates a calendar of two semesters in a year for the SHS 1 class, containing 81 days per each semester and 41 days of vacation for a sandwich class.
Over 8,000 teachers are being recruited to handle the sandwich classes, so teachers are not be deprived of their holidays.
Under the new system, teaching hours are increased from six hours per day to eight hours per day.
Teaching hours are expected to increase from 1,080 hours per year under the current single-track system, to 1,134 hours per year under the proposed double-track system.
The new system is expected to cost GH?323 million to implement fully.