I have sought a definite answer from President Akufo-Addo and his government on when the obnoxious double tract system will end to no avail.
Just a few days ago, the Minister for Education, Hon. Matthew Opoku Prempeh made a statement on the state of education in Ghana in Parliament.
I had hoped that the question of when the obnoxious double tract system would end would have been addressed.
Rather, he made all kinds of claims, some blatantly false, in his attempt to paint a success story under his watch as Minister for Education.
For example, the Minister claimed among others that the NDC abolished the Book and Research allowance under President John Dramani Mahama as President and Prof. Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang as Minister for Education.
I am certain that the Minister for Education presented his 18 page statement titled “EDUCATION AND TEACHER REFORMS” in reaction to John Dramani Mahama picking Prof. Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang, an accomplished educationist and very successful Minister for Education under the previous NDC government as his running mate.
And, the emphatic statement by the NDC flagbearer on his intent to abolish the obnoxious double tract system in his first year in office.
John Dramani Mahama has made it crystal clear that he will tackle/resolve the mosaic of challenges bedevilling the Free Senior High School programme to ensure that it better serves Ghana as a whole, and teachers and students in particular.
John Dramani Mahama and Prof. Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang have outlined a number of measures they will undertake to improve the FSHS when sworn into office on January 7th, 2021.
It is worth reminding ourselves that in the second year of the FSHS programme, and as a result of inadequate prepation, especially, the lack of space in our schools, the Akufo-Addo Government introduced the infamous, obnoxious, shift system otherwise called the “Double Track”.
However, stakeholders agree that the double-track system, an ad-hoc measure, must end as soon as possible, because it dims effective teaching and learning:
a) Students spend equal weeks at school and the same length of time at home;
b) A Semester Programme that allows Students to go on long vacations after spending a few days in school;
c) A haphazard 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;
d) Enormous and undue pressure on non-teaching staff, especially Kitchen staff, and Administrative staff, Headmasters, Senior Housemasters and Housemasters, who hardly go on any vacation, among others.
Unfortunately, government is yet to adequately provide the necessary infrastructure, and logistics critically needed to bring an end to the double tract system.
For example, out of an earlier announced 804 structures, and later revised to 822 as per an answer by the Minister for Education to my question *711 in Parliament, composed of classroom blocks, dining halls and dormitories among others, 236 had been completed as at June 2nd, 2020.
The slow pace in dealing with the infrastructure deficit in our schools suggest a lack of seriousness in ending the double track and may account for the failure by the Akufo-Addo government to give specific timelines on when they would end the annoying double track system.
It is therefore not surprising to many observers that in the 18 paged statement of the Minister no space was made for when the Akufo-Addo government will end the obnoxious double-track system.
For the avoidance of doubt, President Akufo-Addo and his government have given contradictory and ambiguous timelines on when they intend to wean off the 381 of the 721 SHS currently implementing the double-track system as at August 5th, 2020.
The lack of certainty is amply demonstrated by public pronouncements by the President, the Vice President, and his Ministers, on how long Ghanaian students, teachers, and parents will endure the double-track system.
Below are the contradictory and ambiguous timelines, which can only suggest the lack of a clear plan on how to end the double-track system:
1) President Akufo-Addo during an interview on a Kumasi based radio station earlier this month said in response to a question that by 2024, double-track would end
2) Deputy Minister for Education, Hon. Yaw Adutum only a few days ago in answering a question I asked on the floor of Parliament on when the double-track system will end, said in five to seven years.
3) Hon. Mathew Opoku Prempeh, Minister for Education, somewhere last year (2019), indicated that the double-track would end in six years to come.
4) Vice President, Dr. Mahamood Bawumia last year also said that the policy of double track would end soon. How soon, no one knows.
With the inconsistencies in Government’s own public pronouncements as noted above, Ghanaians cannot rely on this Akufo-Addo Government to end the double-track system.
Clearly, there is no definite policy focus in ending the double tract anytime soon by the current Government.
Unlike President Akufo-Addo and his NPP, the NDC, through its flagbearer and Leader, John Dramani Mahama, has provided an emphatic and definite timeline to end the double-track given the opportunity as President of Ghana.
John Dramani Mahama commits to ending the system in his first year by completing the abandoned Community Day Senior High Schools doted across the country and by bringing up those yet to begin to complete his vision of providing 200 brand new schools, a vision that was under construction until he lost the 2016 elections.
He further commits to improve the infrastructure needs in existing schools to contain the numbers.
John Mahama will abolish the dreaded double-track system of secondary education through an emergency and massive infrastructure drive.
This will ensure a conducive environment and one-track qualitative learning experience for SHS students.
John Mahama and the NDC have done it before and can be trusted.
This was done before in the year 2009 when thenPresident John Evans Atta Mills of blessed memory took office with John Dramani Mahama as his Vice President.
At the time, the four years Senior High School policy implemented by the Kufour administration was at its final stage without any serious efforts at containing the students for the additional year they are expected to spend in Senior High Schools.
The nation saw the hard work exerted across the country in our various Senior High Schools in the building of additional dining halls, dormitories, classrooms, assembly halls among others.
Ghana’s education is on the brink and needs serious vision and focus to place it on the right track.
I have no doubt whatsoever, that the John Dramani Mahama Mahama and Jean Opoku-Agyemang an accomplished educationist, would bring back this glory.
Under his term as President and hers as Minister of Education, Ghana recorded its best Basic Education Certificate Examination (B.E.C.E.) results and emerged best in West Africa.
Under him and her, the country recorded its best WASSCE results and emerged also as best in West Africa. With these track records, Ghana can trust its education in safe pair of hands.
About the author; Dr. Clement Apaak, M.P, Builsa South and Deputy Ranking Member on the Education Committee of Parliament