Former President John Mahama’s promise to scrap the double-track system through which the free senior high school programme is being implemented, exposes his lack of understanding of the system, Deputy Education Minister in charge of Basic & Secondary Education, Dr Yaw Adutwum has said.
According to him, scrapping the double-track system will mean destroying the very foundation of the free SHS programme.
On 1 October 2018, Mr Mahama, who is the flag bearer of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), wrote on his Facebook wall that: “A new NDC government will improve the Free SHS programme and make it better”, announcing: “We will abolish the current shift (double-track) system, reintroduce the more efficient three-terms per academic year programme, and bring back the emphasis on skills training, technical and vocational education to provide students with more options, as they go forward with their choices in diverse career and aptitude paths”.
Speaking to Benjamin Akakpo on the free SHS programme on Class91.3FM’s Executive Breakfast Show on Class91.3FM on Wednesday, 14 August 2019, Dr Adutwum said: “The former president has said that he will scrap the double-track system. The problem he has is that [the] double-track [system] is the bridge, [so], if you scrap the double-track [system], you don’t have a free senior high school [programme].
“So, that is the concern I have; that even though former President Mahama may not have said that: ‘I’ll do away with the free senior high school programme’, but if you say that you’ll get rid of the double-track, then probably you’re not understanding how the system is working”, Dr Adutwum stressed.
According to him, the Akufo-Addo government is “using the double-track [system] to execute” the free SHS programme.
Demonstrating how scrapping the double-track will collapse the free SHS programme, Dr Adutwum said: “…You have 150,000 students who are interested in going to school, there were no facilities, you use the double-track [system] to accommodate them, so, if you come and you scrap it, where are the 150,000 students going to go?”.
“Those are the nuances that when you are in this field of education when people say it, and you analyse, then you begin to understand that they are probably not getting it well”, he told Benjamin Akakpo.
“Right now as I speak to you, we don’t have the facilities yet, the double-track system is the bridge that is helping us to cross to the other side of the river, and that double-track is what is providing us 150,000 students; if you scrap it, that bridge has collapsed, you can’t cross to the free SHS, you can’t. So, even if you are not saying: ‘I’ll get rid of free SHS’, but you dismiss the double-track system, it means to me that once you dismiss it, you cannot execute it”, he reiterated.
The government intends phasing out the double-track system in five to seven years when, according to Dr Adutwum, enough facilities would have been put up by the time.