In a game-changing move, Ghana's second cycle institutions will now move away from three school terms to a two-semester system similar to that run by tertiary institutions.
Education Minister, Matthew Opoku Prempeh has said the new system, which ends the over 70-years old educational cycle, will kick in come September 2018 when more than 600 Senior High Schools re-open.
“All Senior High Schools henceforth will run the semester system. Even when we build all the infrastructures, all SHSs will be semester system,” Prempeh said.
The introduction of the semester system comes as government's policy of free SHS encounters fresh and serious challenges. The move to make education free at the second cycle stage in order to deepen access has led to severe congestion in classrooms and pressure on already inadequate infrastructure.
To cure this problem, the government has, not without controversy, introduced the double track system. The system divides the entire student body and staff into two different tracks. So while one track is in school, the other is on vacation.
The minister told journalists at the Education Ministry’s turn of the “Meet the Press Series” Tuesday that only 400 of the estimated 670 Senior High Schools would run the double track system.
He explained that the schools that have been oversubscribed by students would be the ones to run the system since the students are more than the available infrastructure.
A school like Wesley Girls’ SHS would say they have space for about 400 pupils but over 1000 students subscribe to go there so the only way to create that space would be for the double track to be implemented.
“If anyone has another alternative he can bring it on board but for now, we will use the double track system,” he explained.
The Minister reiterated the point that the double track system is not going to be a permanent feature on the calendar of the schools that will run it but is a temporary measure to curb the congestion.
President Akufo-Addo has also shrugged off critics of the policy who say the double track system is a hazardous catalyst to secondary education.
Speaking to the people of Ada during the Asafotufiami Festival few days ago, Nana Akufo-Addo said the policy is a good one.
“On the contrary, this system will reduce class sizes, it will increase the contact hours between teachers and students, as well as increase the number of holidays. Every bold, new initiative that is rolled-out will, perforce, experience hitches and challenges,” he said.
Mathew Opoku Prempeh also noted that the ministry has begun the process to recruit new teachers that would be needed for the double track system.
PRO of the ministry told Joy News earlier that the recruits of Nations Builders Corps will serve as a pool from which teachers will be recruited for the free SHS policy.
“About 43,000 teachers registered for the NaBCo programme so there’s no difficulty to get new recruits for the double track policy,” Mr Assafuah told Roland Walker on the AM Show on the Joy News channel on Multi TV Monday.