The double-track system of the Free Senior High School (SHS) policy took off yesterday with mixed reactions from parents and students.
Although the registration of students was mostly smooth, there were some hiccups that frustrated parents and their children.
Early in the morning, anxious parents and their children thronged the various schools where the children were placed to go through the final admission process.
Visits by the Daily Graphic reporters to various schools in Accra and the regional capitals revealed that the admission processes were smooth in many of the schools but there were challenges in some other few schools
There were long winding queues at some of the schools, and to avoid chaos, the school authorities provided chairs for parents and their children to sit on, as they awaited their turn. In addition to the assembly halls, which were made available for the parents and their children, other schools also mounted makeshift sheds and canopies for them.
Students for the double-track SHS formed the second batch of students for the Free SHS programme.
Under the Free SHS, there are no admission fees, no library fees, no science centre fees, no computer laboratory fees, no examination fees and no utility fees.
Apart from that, the government provides free textbooks, free boarding and free meals. Day students also get a meal at school for free. The programme also covers agricultural, vocational and technical institutions at the high school level.
A total of 490,514 candidates who sat the 2018 Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) qualified to be in SHS and technical institutes for the commencement of the double-track educational system.
They constituted 90 per cent of the 521,710 candidates who registered for the BECE this year.
Out of the number of candidates that qualified for placement, 423,134 were automatically placed, while 67,362 could not be matched with any of their choices.
The double-track SHS system was introduced by the government this year to cater for the increase in enrolment. According to the government, the move was to ensure that no qualified child was left out of SHS admission.
Emmanuel Bonney reports that at the Accra Academy, the school authorities began the admission processes with students who were on the Green Track, while those on the Gold Track were asked to report on Thursday, September 13 for asimilar purpose.
“The Green Track students are those who are starting, and we believe we should start with them. Definitely, we will attend to the Gold Track, but we did not want all of them to come and sit here for long hours. We want to ensure order,” a teacher at the school said.
Two fresh students, David Welbeck and Nicholas Commey, who were all smiles, told the Daily Graphic that they were excited to be on the Green Track.
They said although they had wished they had reported to school with those on the Gold Track, they were happy about the fact that more students would be going to school.
At the Christian Methodist SHS in Accra, a parent, Mr Kwame Asamoah, said he was at the school as early as 5a.m. so that he could finish quickly and go to work.
At the Accra Wesley Girls SHS, the Headmistress, Mrs Cynthia Essibrey-Annan, said although the school requested for 415 students, the Ghana Education Service (GES) posted 615 students to the school.
She explained that with the double-track system, the school would be able to cater for all the students who had been placed there,
adding that the system was good since it allowed for more students to enrol.
Nana Konadu Agyeman and Joseline Aryitey, who also visited some schools in Accra, report that parents and their children who went to the Presbyterian Senior High School (PRESEC) at Legon, Accra High Girls SHS and Accra High School went through the admission processes smoothly.
When the Daily Graphic got to the campus of PRESEC at 10.20 a.m., parents of fresh students of both the Green and Gold tracks, were in long queues at the assembly hall where the registration process took place.
The registration process, supervised by the Headmistress of the school, Lady Queene Asiedu-Akrofi, saw teams of teachers and administrators take the freshers through the registration procedure.
As of 11.20 a.m., the school which had a total placement of 1,551 students with 763 students on the Green Track and 766 on Gold, had been able to register 220.
Some of the parents expressed satisfaction at the quick pace the registration process was conducted.
At the Accra Girls SHS, the school had put together teams of teachers and administrators to register the freshers.
To foster a smooth registration process, the school authorities gathered the Gold Track students in the assembly hall and the Green Track in the dining hall of the school, an arrangement the parents and guardians commended.
From Kumasi and Obuasi, Daniel Kenu and Kwadwo Baffoe Donkor report that apart from few students who were put on the second track who reported to school, the day saw little hitches.
Another hitch was at Obuasi Senior High and Technical School, where some students outside the Obuasi municipality were made day students, but their parents were asked to report to the Ghana Education Service (GES) Regional Office for redress.
At the Kumasi High School more than 200 students had reported to school by 9am for the registration process.
The Assistant Headmaster (Academic), Mr Solomon Nti, told the Daily Graphic that the school was ready to start the new semester system.
He said a total of 1,312 first-year students had been admitted under the new system, “an increase of more than 50 per cent of what the school was admitting in the past."
The story was no different at Saint Louis, T. I. Ahamadyya SHS, Anglican SHS and Obuasi Senior High/Technical.
Hundreds of students and their parents who were not able to electronically register before schools reopened, thronged the premises of their placed schools to go through the final process, writes Dotsey Koblah Aklorbortu from Sekondi-Takoradi.
At the Sekondi College, the prospective students converged on the school’s assembly hall and waited patiently for their turn to go through the manual process.
At the Methodist SHS in Sekondi, and the Ghana Secondary Technical in Takoradi, the story was the same.
Samuel Duodu & Mohammed Fugu report from Tamale that some parents and their children were seen stranded in some of the schools selected in the Northern Region to run the double-track system as they could not go through the registration process successfully.
A number of prospective students who trooped to the various schools could not find their names on the admission list, while others from far distances were placed as day students instead of boarders.
At the Tamale Islamic Science SHS, Mr Sulemana Iddisa, a parent from Yeji, in the Brong Ahafo Region, told the Daily Graphic that his child was placed as a day student, and all efforts to get authorities to change the placement proved futile.
"I am from Bunkpurugu, and I chose boarding status, but I was given day status, and I am now frustrated. I spent the night in the school because I don't know anybody in town," a frustrated student lamented.
According to the headmistress of the Ghana SHS, Hajia Amina M. Musah, students who had issues with their placement were referred to the Regional Education Directorate for redress.
A number of students, including their parents and other relatives, gathered on the premises of the Bolgatanga Girls SHS (BOGISS) to go through the registration processes, reports Vincent Amenuveve.
Some of the students who brought along their trunks and chop boxes to the school told the Daily Graphic that they were eager to start school under the new system although they did not know which of the tracks they would be placed under.
When contacted,the Headmistress of BOGISS, Madam Rose Avonsige, stated that last week, the school experienced Internet challenges but currently the registration processes for both the Green and Gold tracks were going on smoothly.
According to her, a total of 1,140 students would be placed under the Green and Gold tracks.
At the Bawku Senior High Technical School, the Headmaster, Mr Abdulai Bukari, observed that the network was slow, making the registration processes a bit slow.
Scores of parents from various parts of the country were at the SHSs within the metropolis to register their children, writes Della Russel Ocloo from Tema.
Many of the parents who had to wait for several hours before getting the opportunity to register their children, questioned the rationale for some of the school heads for undertaking concurrent registration for both tracks.
As of 8:25 a.m., when the Daily Graphic visited the Tema SHS (TEMASCO), long queues had been formed at the forecourt of the F.K Buah Assembly Hall where the registration process was underway.
Although school authorities had made provision for chairs to accommodate parents and students, a good number of people were seen standing since there were not enough chairs. A parent, Madam Fatima Dollie, expressed misgivings about the system.
She expressed worry at what she described as the government’s experimentation with the country’s educational system.
Shirley Asiedu-Addo writes from Cape Coast that hundreds of parents who sent their wards to the various schools in Cape Coast to register them seemed relaxed as they sat in queues and waited for their turn to register.
At the Wesley Girls SHS, Aggrey Memorial Zion SHS, Academy of Christ the King and Mfantsipim School, first-year students packed their belongings before they were sent to houses allocated to them.
At the St Augustine’s College, students admitted on both tracks were there to register.
The headmaster of the St Augustine’s College, Mr Joseph Cornel, said there were no problems with the admissions.
He said the school was given 1,042 students for both tracks and said indicated that he did not anticipate any problems with congestion.
Some of the parents said they were satisfied with the processes.
The double-track SHS policy took off on a peaceful and orderly manner in all three SHSs visited in the Eastern Regional capital of Koforidua yesterday, reports Naa Lamiley Bentil from Koforidua.
At the Oti Boateng SHS, Ghana Secondary School (GHANAS) and Pope John's SHS, parents who had earlier secured their children’s admission and prospectus had reported to the school.
The Headmaster of Oti Boateng SHS, Mr John Hawkson Arthur, told the Daily Graphic that the school had registered 420 students for the Green Track as against the expected 469 students at the time of the Daily Graphic's visit to the school around midday.
From Ho, Mary Anane-Amponsah reports that fresh students on the Green Track started reporting to the various schools they were placed in the Volta Region.
Thirty schools in the region are running the double-track system.
In the Ho municipality, anxious parents reported at the various schools with their children to go through the admission process.
At the OLA SHS, the new students were seen with their parents seated under canopies as they took their turn to go through the registration process at the assembly hall.
According to the headmistress, Ms Regina Aku Coffie, a total of 1,052 new students were posted to the school for the two tracks. Out of the number, 570 are on the Green Track.
Biiya Mukusah Ali writes from Sunyani that there were hundreds of students and parents still struggling to go through the necessary registration procedures.
Some of the students said even though the new system was a good one, they were unhappy about the process, explaining that it was delaying their academic timetable.
They said the students admitted for the Gold Track would have an advantage over the Green Track since even though school had reopened, they were still going through admission processes instead of starting academic work.
From Gomoa Ekwamkrom in the Central Region, Gilbert Mawuli Agbey reports that 30 first-year students from the Gomoa Central District who have gained admission to some first-class SHSs for the 2018/2019 academic year have been supported to facilitate their admission to SHS.
For the first time in many years, some candidates who sat this year’s BECE in the district performed creditably, enabling such students to gain admission to elite schools such as Adisadel College, Mfantsipim School, Mfantsiman Girls, Ghana National College and Accra Academy, among others.