A Deputy Minister of Education in charge of General Education and MP for Bosomtwe constituency in the Ashanti region Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum, has revealed that, government has continued and completed thirteen (13) of the community day senior high school (SHS), well known as ‘E-block schools’, which was started by the Mahama administration and are ready to be mainstreamed in the next academic year come September, 2018.
He explained, there was the perception that the development of the community day ‘E -SHSs’ started by the Mahama administration had been abandoned. Meanwhile, 46 out of the 200 E-SHSs promised to be constructed were completed and 123 of them were under construction as at the time of handing over power to the NPP administration in January 2017.
However, he elaborated that, the double-track system was introduced to mainly deal with the congestion challenges being faced by the various schools in the country. Saying, “It is a temporary solution that would give the government a breathing space to deal with the infrastructure deficit facing the country.”
The Deputy Minister was speaking at a dialogue on Ghana’s Education system organized by Daily Graphic dubbed, “Unpacking the double-track system: Implications for sustainable financing and prospects for educational quality in Ghana” which was sponsored by Star Ghana, the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with Joy FM and Citi FM being their media partners.
According to Dr. Adutwum, the ministry was working seriously to facilitate $1.5 billion to aid them to complete all uncompleted projects of SHSs, Basic schools and Tertiary campuses across the country which was part of measures put in place to gradually address the congestion problems in the country’s educational system.
Explaining the measures the ministry had put in place in order to ensure smooth implementation of these policies and to prevent any infrastructural challenges, as the double track system was going to see over 90,000 student enrollment in the various SHSs in Ghana, he said, GETFund was going to borrow from some of the allocated revenues they would receive in 10-years to support it. Saying, $500 million was projected for Senior High School contribution and the completion of every building at its 70% level.
At the tertiary institutions, there would be additional allocation of $500 million to take care of every abandoned uncompleted projects.
Dr. Adutwum further stressed that, the double-track system would also bring an end to the cut-off point system that prevented many of the qualified students from continuing their education at the secondary education level.
He again emphasized that “It is also to provide the opportunities for students who would have never made it to some of the top schools.”
According to him, the resits of the Basic Education Certificate Examination under the current free SHS policy had shot up interest in the resit examinations. Giving a projected figures to back his statement, he said, 11,000 pupils sat for the remedial exams in 2017, which indicates an increase as compared to the 1,000 pupils who sat in 2016.
Dr. Adutwum, therefore, lauded the previous administration for introducing that system. Saying, the interest in the resit was very low before 2017 since there was no space in the various SHSs for those who passed the resit. Others, he said could not also continue due to financial problems.
He gave an example that, in the North, many students specifically women, were dropping out of school because their parents could not afford to pay for the Basic Education Certificate Exams (BECE). In the South, the numbers were worse. The Ministry, he said, slashed the BECE fees, but found that something more needed to be done. Hence, the introduction of the double track system.
He said, government had however set aside GH¢55, 824,750 to help students, especially in the core subject areas. He added that, teachers under the system were going to have more personal time as the teaching days would be reduced from 180 to 162 days in a year.
Meanwhile, the public relations officer of the Conference of Heads of Private Secondary Schools (CHOPSS), Mr. Naphtali Kyei-Baffour indicated that, government would not had introduced the Double Track System in the first place as a desperate measure to accommodate the huge number of students to be enrolled under the Free SHS if it had involved the private sector.
He bemoaned that, their exclusion from the implementation of the Free SHS policy and the Double Tracking System was going to create additional unemployment gap in Ghana’s educational sector.
According to him, if the situation was not considered on a second thought, it could amount to about 10, 000 teachers loosing their jobs and close to 250 private schools would also be shut down eventually.
“Assuming each school takes averagely 500 students, the 250 private schools on the verge of collapse could absorb more than two-thirds of the extra students, to which there wouldn’t be any reason for the introduction of this double track system at all,” he indicated.
He however, called for a system where no school would be classified but to allow all schools to be made available for students to chose from.
The General Secretary of the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), Mr. Samuel Frank Dadzie, on his part noted that, NAGRAT had called on all its members not to work on Saturdays and Sundays in support of the double track system for public senior high schools in the country.
According to him, “section 42 of the Labour Act 657 of 2003 states that in addition to the mandatory 30 minutes rest in the course of work and a daily continuous rest of at least 12 hours duration between two consecutive working days, a worker must be “given a rest period of 48 consecutive hours, in every seven days of normal working hours, and the rest period may, for preference, start from Saturday and end on the Sunday following, and shall wherever possible, be granted to all of the workers of the undertaking.”
Mr. Dadzie, therefore indicated that,
government’s proposal for teachers to work on weekends was illegal and contrary to the labour laws of Ghana. But then the association he said, would not kick against the system, if it would reward teachers for that extra hours, they might consider it.
He lamented at the event that NAGRAT was embittered because government kept them in the dark without engaging them and as well as parents in a broad consultation for a better understanding of what is going on. Saying that, teachers didn’t understand the situation, students and parents were also confused.
Dr. Franklin Oduro, the Director of Programmes at CDD-Ghana, lauded the organizers of the forum as it created the opportunity for the general public to also get involved and contribute towards the development of Ghana’s educational system.
According to him, their main concern was what government was going to do to make the citizenry understand that the new educational system was going to improve the quality of GES.
However, he said the most important thing was for the Double-Track System to deliver on quality as had been anticipated.
Among prominent people at the forum were; Mr. Ransford Tetteh, Acting Managing Director of Daily Graphic, Mr. Ibrahim-Tanko, Programmes Director of STAR Ghana, Mr. Charles Aheto Tsegah, a former Acting Directir of GES, Mr. Ace Ankoma, a private legal practitioner who moderated the forum which took place at the Ghana – India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT in Accra on 15th August,2018.