Matthew Opoku Prempeh – Minister of Education
The government would have to spend one billion Ghana cedis on Free Senior High School (SHS) policy without the double track system, Minister of Education, Matthew Opoku Prempeh has said.
The double track system has met stiff opposition from many who have expressed fears that it could lead to truancy.
Speaking at a meet the press series earlier today [Tuesday], Dr. Opoku Prempeh, however, explained that government did not have the luxury of time to put up new infrastructure.
“We did the sum based on the 2017/2018 pricing, and we realized that we needed GHC 1 billion cedis. Between June and September when these facts became clear, we realized that even if we had 1 billion cedis there is no way we can construct 622 classroom blocks and fix it for occupation before the middle of September, meaning we have to start thinking. Time is not on our side.
“We looked at our options and engaged Cabinet in our options. Our options were that some development partners have promised to support us because we have started free SHS. Some say they will come with money 250 million, some say they will come and help us construct model schools, the world bank additional financing but between the promises and the delivery is an average of 30 months and we are still waiting and working through the Ministry of Finance with our development partners.”
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 in July 2018, 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.