By Agnes Ansah .
Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, Minister for Education says the Double Track System (DTS) is a temporary intervention to enable the government put measures in place to solve the infrastructure challenges in our schools.
He said the new system, which is expected to commence in September would help the government save costs relative to new schools construction in the short term, while meeting the expected enrolment growth in Senior High Schools.
“It would also allow schools to accommodate more students within the same facility to improve overcrowding, increase contact hours and the number of holidays in our schools, he added.
Explaining why the government arrived at the DTS, the minister who was addressing a news conference in Accra yesterday said that out of the 521,710 pupil who sat for the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE), 490,000 pupils were expected to enter Senior High School.
“This year, 472,730 pupils passed as against the 361,771 pupils who passed last year”, he said and attributed the development to the easy access to second cycle institutions, due to the free senior high school policy.
He said a critical look at the number of students who passed this year would mean that 181,993 students would have to stay at home because the available seats are only 277,537.
He explained that the number of students who sat for the West Africa Senior School Certificate Examination are 277,000 making it difficult for the schools to absorb the 472,730 qualified students.
He said the government managed to create 13,200 in addition to the available seats bringing the number of seats to 290,737.
The minister indicated that, “even if the seats are provided by way of building new infrastructures, one would have to ensure that there are Mono Desks, Teachers’ Furniture, Dormitories and Beds in all these schools and this would put a huge financial constraint on the government”.
He said that, though there were other suggestions for the government to raise funds to cater for the infrastructure issues, such as an appeal to development partners for support, partial scrutinisation of GetFund receivables for infrastructure development capping GetFund at 25%, the government opted for the DST.
This is because even if we have all the funds, we cannot build quickly enough for 2018 entrants, he stated.
“Students are expected to be in school in September and I don’t think any parent would want her ward to stay at home and wait for a new classroom to be built before his child can get access”, he said.
He also said that the system has been implemented in many parts of the world, including Australia, Costa- Rica, Japan, United States and many others, and believes it would work for the country.
Dr Opoku Prempeh stated that Ghana has committed itself to the Sustainable Development Goal 4 of ensuring that every child gets enrolled in school by 2030 hence, “we must find ways to fulfill that commitment.”
He said that it’s better for more children to get a basic education because the more educated kids we have, the better for the socio economic development of the country.