The country lacks the infrastructure it needs for success of the double-track Senior High School intake – hence a rethink of the programme is necessary, an Economics Professor at the University of Ghana, Peter Quartey, has said.
The double-track intake system, which commences in September this year, will change the traditional three-term timetable of secondary schools to run on a semester basis – as a way of lessening the pressure the Free SHS programme has brought on schools.
But in an interview with the B&FT, Prof. Quartey shared his view that such a programme ought to have been backed by the requisite infrastructure such as community libraries – as has been done in other countries where the double-track system is in place.
“I think government has hit a wall and there is no other option than to opt for this; but the double-track itself will not address the problem. There are infrastructure and other deficits that have to be addressed, otherwise quality is going to suffer. If you look at the period students will spend at home, in advanced countries – where we borrowed this system from – community libraries and Internet facilities are all over.
“There are places where when the students are at home they can go to the community libraries to study; teaching is even done online. So, even when you are home, you are given a lot of assignments which you can submit online…and that keeps the students engaged.
“But ask yourself, how many schools would you find with Internet access? How many community libraries do we have in this country?” he asked.
Prof. Quartey added that considering the challenges the system will face, it should have been introduced at a time when the country had adequate infrastructure to support it.
“I think it could have come at a better time than now. If we had thought about it and planned ahead, then one thing for sure for me is that every district should have had a community library. The absence of it will affect the students when they come home.
“The kind of infrastructure we have is not adequate for the double-track to run efficiently. It can run, but it won’t be the best of options unless the challenges are addressed quickly,” he said.
Figures from the Ministry of Education show that from 2013 to 2017, more than 493,000 Junior High pupils were denied entry into secondary schools owing to infrastructural deficits even though they qualified to enter.
It is further estimated that in the 2018/19 academic year, more than 470,000 students – a 31 percent increment over the previous year – will be admitted into senior high schools across the country.
Government has therefore maintained that the double-track intake is to ensure no one is denied admission to SHS under its Free SHS programme, adding it is only temporary and will not affect quality of learning in the country.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has insisted that the double-track intake system will succeed, saying: “The double-track calendar system will not destroy our educational system. I am confident that results from the system will lead to an increase in quality of our Senior High School structure.”