Education Minister, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh

Education Minister Dr Matthew Opoku says the Double Track system that accompanied the Free SHS policy saved about 100,000 qualified students from not gaining admission into Senior High School.

He said these students, if not for the Double Track System, would have stayed home even though they gained admission into various SHSs because there were no spaces to accommodate them.

“Double Track is not a system where somebody wishes to impose on school kids. The system made possible an entrance for 100,000 Ghanaian students who had qualified but who hitherto were not going to school,” he said.

After government implemented the Free Senior High School policy (Free SHS), it introduced the double track system to make available places for schools to accommodate more students.

Two shift systems – Gold and Green Tracks – were introduced for the students to alternate times of being in school. Nonetheless, there have been calls for government to abolish it.

The Double Track System has come under intense criticisms especially from the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).

The System has been criticised over claims that students spend limited time in schools as compared to the old system.

At its 2020 Manifesto launch, flagbearer of the NDC, John Mahama said if he wins power, he will cancel the System.

Former Education Minister and Mr Mahama’s running mate, Prof. Naana Opoku-Agyemang, said the next NDC administration will make the Free SHS policy better.

According to her, they will include private schools in the policy but without the double track system.

But in a meeting with the Rotary Club of Accra-West, Dr Opoku Prempeh dispelled claims that the System is not a good one.

He said students currently with the Double Track spend almost the same hours in school as they did with the old system.

“In the old system, students stayed home five months of the 12 month calendar and with the double track, students stayed home for 6 months.

“In the old system, the total contact hours per year was 1,035 hours while with the new system, it’s 1140 hours. So it’s not true that double track has reduced the contact hours,” he said.

He further noted that government is seeking to end the system by building more schools, however, the double track will remain a solution in the interim, while the infrastructure challenge is being resolved.

“The society that doesn’t create opportunities for the poor probably will create opportunities for murder and all the social ills we are talking about. So there’s a need to find a way of putting everybody in school.

“Kenya has come to copy us subsequently, and is thinking about next Academic year doing the same because it takes time to build infrastructure. When we estimated it, it was going to take us five to seven years [to build more schools],” he said.

Meanwhile, the NDC in their manifesto said they will abolish the system when they are given the nod as the new government in the upcoming elections.