Home / article; “double track system, i beg to differ mr. president”

article; “double track system, i beg to differ mr. president”

Let me please begin by responding to your claim that the double track system would improve the quality of education at the senior high level. If this were true then Mr President, why would the system phase out after five or seven years? Could it also be that the Honourable Minister of Education is leading you along the same path the Energy Minister took you in the Ameri Deal recently? Approximately a year ago, precisely on August 26, 2017, I single handedly held a press conference against the wholesale implementation of the Free SHS program. Please demand from your handlers a copy of my petition to your office last year. In that letter, I proposed among others that if we did not tread cautiously, the quality of senior high education would be compromised. I wonder how we can convince ourselves that quality and standards amidst the challenges outlined below:
First, the double track system would spell great difficulty in retention of information due to long periods of breaks with no space for extra tuition during the break except for Saturday classes. Previously, parents and guardians made arrangement for vacation classes especially during long vacations because classrooms were readily available. Today, only Saturday classes would be available and parents and guardians would have to cough out money for home tuition during the long breaks. Invariably, parents and guardians might end up paying more for these fill in classes than they would have paid if their children were paying normal trimester fees.
Secondly, no one is probably paying attention to the fact that the teenagers who are recipients of Free SHS package are too young and unprepared for this arrangement. As a nation, we are ignoring the fact adolescents and teenagers are mostly volatile in their lifestyles and emotions. Every parent or educationist knows that teenagers need constant attention, close monitoring and guidance. I wonder the social networks and systems we are putting in place to take care of our youth during the long vacations. I have heard the suggestion that community libraries would be enhanced to engage them but one wonders how effective this would be.No one should down play the social cost of the new system on the nation including teenage pregnancy, drug abuse and wayward lifestyles.
Thirdly, we need to acknowledge that we have a pathetically flawed and weak basic school system. Mr. President, we have not possibly pondered on the fact that though basic education is free, not many middle class and upper class parents would dare send their wards to public basic schools. This presupposes that Ghanaians are not so concerned with the freeness of education as they are concerned with quality. I was shocked when a Deputy Minister of Education, Mr Adu Twum, said that the ministry is not sending students to the private senior high schools because they do not measure up. My response is which schools train our children at the basic school level to be absorbed to the grade A and B schools in public senior high schools? He should possibly provide credible justification for his claims by giving us better and further particulars.
Fourthly, I hope you are very aware that there was largely no broader consultation with stake holders of education, directors of education, teacher unions, parents and guardians, civil society organizations and youth groups prior to the adoption of the double track system. It is only mindboggling that the minister of education for instance would meet regional directors of education just a day ahead of his press briefing on August 7, 2018. One could only wonder the purpose of such an engagement. Was it meant for information or consultation or as an insult?
Fifthly, I am of the view that the cost of the double track system is too much for the fragile spine of the economy. Aside the fact that the country is paying the full fees for both boarding and day students, costs of feeding, uniforms and books among others, government per the double track system is paying extra cost for engaging more teachers and additional fifty cedis (c50) per student for Saturday classes. Not many people might have thought of the full financial implications on the economy but we should realize we could not eat our cake and keep it.
Furthermore, I am still struggling to come to terms with the fact government is simply refusing to utilize spaces available in private institutions. There are over two hundred private SHS across Ghana which could comfortably provide space for the so-called 180,000 surplus students in the 2018 basic education certificate examination. Virtually all private SHS across the country are on their knees or at the verge of collapse. Has the government counted the cost of collapsing over two hundred private SHS across Ghana employing over 10,000 workers while claiming to employ some 8000 new teaching staff?
Another problem with the Free SHS system is that children having different abilities, different levels of intelligence and orientation are boxed together in the same classroom to be taught by the same teacher. In a situation where students with aggregate six to 30, find themselves in the same classroom as students having aggregate thirty-one to forty plus, no single teacher, no matter his expertise would be able to engage them meaningfully in teaching and learning. In the end, some of the students are left behind in the process and they only fail woefully eventually in WASSCE results. The eventual repercussion of the putting together students with diverse and unequal abilities is that the weaklings are sacrificed on the altar of satisfying those who can weather the storm in the classroom. No wonder Ghana is performing poorly in WASSCE results.
Moreover, I understand the argument being peddled on the airwaves and on television screens that the government could not have raised structures and facilities in the interim, hence, double track system. We should equally realize that the current facilities and structures in our public senior high schools were not designed and built for use throughout the year. Naturally, the principle of wear and tear cannot be wished away. Usually, it is during vacation periods, schools undergo repairs and renovations as well as fumigation. In the long term, existing facilities would be overused and be left in dilapidated conditions. Students would equally be overburdened in having to evacuate their belongings every time one track is over and return them upon reopening. One even wonders how staff bungalows would be managed under the new system.
Finally, Mr President, What is the focus of our educational system? What is the policy direction for our manpower development? Politics should be divorced from our educational system. The structure and focus of our current system of education are not in the right perspectives. The neglect of the basic schools is a threat to our national development. We basically have a failed system of education in Ghana as our current level of development reveals. We have a failed health system, failed security system, failed political system, failed leadership, failed media platforms, failed legal system and many others. All of these are attributable to a failed educational system. There is a disconnect between the educational system and what pertains in the society and the natural environment. We need urgent restructuring and retooling of our educational system.
We need to fashion out a new mode of academic discipline that is in sync with our national interest and vision as well as our cultural differences, values and ideals. No more playing of the ostrich and the vulture with our educational system.
Ghanaians must wake up and make their voices heard or we risk perishing in silence together. The foreboding and pervasive culture of silence as a result of fear of victimization and hawking by the political class and people in authority will not help Ghana today or tomorrow. Double track system is a nonstarter and if urgent steps are not taken, Ghana’s current educational system is bound for the ditch in the coming years. Mr. President, you owe this country and generations unborn, the responsibility of safeguarding our educational system and double track system is not the way forward.
(Clement Adjei Sarfo, President, Youth Empowerment Summit, [email protected])

About Enock Akonnor

Check Also

[VIDEO]: Chaos erupts in Jamestown as NDC, NPP peace walk turns violent

What was thought to be peace walk by supporters of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National …

Wenger reveals why Mourinho doesn’t feature in his book

The iconic former Arsenal boss revealed that his long-time rival didn’t make the cut purely …

WATCH VIDEO: 10 NDC supporters arrested at Aboabo in robbery swoop

The arrest of 10 men believed to NDC activists at Aboabo in Kumasi for allegedly …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *