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Free SHS: Critics Kick Against Double-Track System

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If there were any two words that would have welcomed resentment from parents it would have been “School Fees”.

So, in the bid to cut down the burden of these two resentful words, the government of Ghana under the leadership of the President Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufo-Addo introduced the free Senior High School (FSHS) policy.

It is now almost two years since charges for state senior high schools in the country became ‘free’, yet it is an open secret that education may not truly be free.

Critics predict parents would in future, pay dearly for the many challenges that has besieged the seemingly excellent policy.

Double- Track

Government is currently finalising steps to start a double-track or semester system to boost enrolment and to mitigate the pitfalls under its flagship free SHS programme.

The new system is expected to divide the entire student body and staff into two different tracks. So, while one track is in school, the other will be holidaying.

But critics say it is a move in the wrong direction adding that the double intake will not resolve the problem but rather compound it.

Speaking on TV3 yesterday, MP for Tamale North, Alhaji Alhassan Suhuyini said the double-track system would increase truancy, indiscipline and put stress on the existing infrastructure.

Likening it to the erstwhile morning-afternoon shifts operated in public basic schools, the MP said the double-tract system will run down the secondary educational system to a point where parents will begin to consider private secondary education as their first option.

“For basic education we worked so hard as a country to stop shift system, we worked so hard because we saw it was damaging our children… Is it not an irony that we worked so hard to end it on one level of education only to introduce it at such a sensitive level of education, he asked.

Government has since countered claims that the new system is a shift programme.

Roll-out

The rotation sequence for the new shift system would be dependent on the year-round calendar being used.

The school calendar in Ghana starts from September and ends in April with three different terms.

September to December marks the first term, the second term starts in January and ends in April while the third term is from April/May to July.

Come September 2018, every semester will be 80 days for the two tracks. For one semester, every track will be in school for 40 days then go for a break for 40 days.

Teacher motivation has been increased from 20 hours for the year to 70 hours for the year.

More teachers will be engaged so every group goes on break with the track they teach.

By: Grace Ablewor Sogbey/ ksogbey@gmail.com

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