The governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) has described as desperate and unrealistic, a promise by former President John Mahama to eliminate the double-track system of the free senior high school policy should he win the 7 December 2020 polls.
Mr Mahama, a few weeks ago, said he will, within one year in office, eliminate the double-track system, which, according to him, has plagued the smooth implementation of the free SHS Programme.
To achieve his target, the former President said his next government, should he win the 7 December polls, 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.
Addressing a community durbar of chiefs and farmers at Fawohoyeden in the Asunafo North district of the Ahafo Region, Mr Mahama said he has always stood for quality free SHS.
According to him, claims that he would cancel the free SHS programme is false, noting that he started the programme with day students during his administration.
However, at a press conference on Monday, 12 October 2020, the Director of Communication of the NPP, Mr Yaw Buaben Asamoa, said: “Any promises by the clueless NDC leadership to abolish double-track in seven months is unrealistic, shameless and desperate”.
“It is obvious that the NDC does not understand the double-track system, and have no real commitment to Free SHS”, he added.
Mr Buaben Asamoa said: “They still cannot answer the question their pipedreams about education reform poses: ‘Whose child stays at home’ while they fiddle around pretending to cancel double-track?”
“Today, our SHS population stands around 1.2 million learners, up from 800,000 at the start of the 2016/17 academic year. That is a massive jump”, he noted.
According to him, the “nation should be proud of our mutual commitment to the success of getting so many of our children into senior high school who would otherwise be wallowing in despair at home, not because they do not qualify to enter SHS, but simply because through no fault of theirs, their families are too poor to see them through senior high school.”
“Available data between 2013 and 2016”, he said: “Indicate that on the average, 100,000 children, every year, passed the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) but could not take up their places in SHS, because they could not afford the fees, even though they had the qualifications.
“This represented about 35% of the total number of children who had been placed. Of those who took up their places, 22% dropped out, again due to financial reasons.
“Free SHS has, therefore, come as a major boost to parents, students and the nation. The important pillars of the Free SHS programme are Access, Quality and Relevance.”
“To cater for increase in enrolment in the second year of the FSHS due to the surge of candidates who had been home due to lack of funds, and who sought to benefit from the programme, the double-track system was introduced in 2018 as an innovative intervention to make room for all successful candidates, with a clear timeline of 5 – 7 years to phase it out as more infrastructure was built in the 400 or so schools that went on double track, out of the total of about 721 SHS in this country. Over the last three years, more than 1,000 structures, including dormitories, classroom blocks and laboratories are being delivered in SHSs across the country.”