The Member of Parliament for the Builsa South Constituency and Deputy Ranking Member on the Education Committee of Parliament Dr. Clement Apaak has reiterated the commitment of former president John Dramani Mahama and NDC to end the Free SHS double track system within one year in office.
The Leader and Flagbearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Mr. John Dramani Mahama, says he will, within one year in office, eliminate the double track system that has plagued the smooth implementation of the free SHS Programme.
Speaking at a community durbar of chiefs and farmers at Fawohoyeden in the Asunafo North District of the Ahafo Region, Mr. John Mahama said he has always stood for quality free SHS and his next government will embark on a fast-track programme to complete the abandoned Community Day Schools, expand infrastructure in existing schools, and include private schools in the free SHS programme.
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In a statement reflecting on the Flagbearer’s pronouncement, the Deputy Ranking Member on the Education Committee of Parliament Dr. Clement Apaak has outlined some effects of the Free SHS double track system in Senior High Schools. He also unveil the party’s roadmap to completely end the double track system when voted into office in the upcoming December 2020 polls.
His statement copied to the front deck of Coverghana.com.gh reads;
John Dramani Mahama, the flagbearer of the NDC, reiterated his commitment to end the obnoxious double track system in one year during his address at a community durbar of chiefs and farmers at Fawohoyeden, in the Asunafo North district of the Ahafo Region, on Friday October 1st, 2020.
John Mahama was resolute, emphatic, as he states, “I will, within one year in office, eliminate the double track system that has plagued the smooth implementation of the free SHS Programme”.
No doubt, this continues to be reassuring, welcome, and refreshing news to stakeholders in education; students, teachers, parents, think-tanks, since Akufo-Addo has failed to give a timeline on when the hated double track system he introduced will end.
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The excitement to see the demise of the double track system with alacrity is because of how negatively it’s affecting teaching and learning as exemplified in the following:
a) A Semester Programme that allows Students to go on long vacations after spending a few weeks in school;
b) A hahpazard calendar, where sometimes the reopening date for one track is hurriedly postponed to the disadvantage of plans put in place by parents and their wards;
c) Enormous pressure on non-teaching staff, especially Kitchen staff, and Administrative staff, Headmasters, Senior Housemasters and Housemasters, who hardly go on any vacation, among others;
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d) A centralised and corrupted system where party people are given contracts to supply food items without the knowledge and input of school management, resulting in the dumping of unwholesome food items and huge quantities of particular food items on schools;
e) A culture of silence, where heads and senior management of schools are intimated, penalised by transfers, and or demotions for speaking to the challenges they face as a result of the poor implementation of the free SHS programme;
f) Refusal to allow students to have access to books from previous years; year three students have no access to their year one and two textbooks, yet need all those books to prepare for exams;
g) Parents footing the cost of elective textbooks because Government has refused to fund the cost of elective textbooks as part of the FSHS programme, among others.
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To bring this anomaly or deviance called double track system to an end, the NDC Flagbearer has provided an emphatic and definite timeline; one year, to end the double track given the opportunity as President of Ghana.
Here is how:
1) Complete the abandoned Community Day Senior High Schools doted across the country and bring up those yet to begin to complete his vision of providing 200 brand new schools.
2) Invest heavily to improve the infrastructure needs in existing schools and establish new Senior High Schools to contain the numbers. This will be part of a ten billion massive infrastructure drive, “Big Push”;
3) Include Private Senior High Schools in the delivery of the fSHS policy. As it stands now several hundreds of private Senior High Schools are empty and on the verge of collapse.
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More generally, below are key proposals John Dramani Mahama will implement to improve teaching and learning at the secondary level and to specifically make the Free Senior High School Programme better, by ensuring that its numerous challenges are addressed, and higher standards introduced:
1) Expand the Free SHS programme to cover students in private Senior High Schools in underserved/deprived areas;
2) Complete abandoned structures for secondary and technical education including abandoned E-Blocks to cater for current students and the expected increase in admissions;
3) Strengthen and sustain private participation in the delivery of secondary education;
4) Commence the construction of at least one Senior High School in districts without same;
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5) Set up schools in disadvantaged, over-populated and under-served areas including Zongos and other deprived communities;
6) Expand existing and well performing schools to admit and accommodate more students including Ghanaians abroad who wish to imbibe our culture in their wards;
7) Promote the use of IT and provide free Wi-Fi in schools to enhance performance of students;
8) Provide students and teachers with free tablets loaded with relevant content to facilitate teaching and learning;
9) Provide computer laboratories for all secondary schools;
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10) Address challenges with the Computerised School Selection and Placement System (CSSPS);
11) Decentralise and strengthen procurement of food and other materials to the heads of the SHSs and their bursars;
12) Provide residential facilities in schools to accommodate teachers and educational staff;
13) Revisit and scale up our intervention of providing free sanitary pads to needy and vulnerable females with the aim of keeping all girls in school throughout the academic calendar as we improve on their health and general well-being.
For the avoidance of doubt, President Akufo-Addo, who introduced the dreaded and obnoxious double tract system, because he failed to anticipate the need for infrastructure, has provided no timelines nor clear plan on how to end it.
Let it be known that teaching and learning at the secondary level cannot be improved with the double track system still in existence. John Dramani Mahama will abolish the double track system in one year. Akufo-Addo says by 2024. The alternative is certain, it’s definite. The alternative is better because it represents the wishes and aspirations of the people.