Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum, a Deputy Minister for Education, has said that the incumbent New Patriotic Party (NPP) has an innovative sense, hence the introduction of the double-track system to augment the Free SHS policy.
According to him, the government’s flagship policy in the run-up to the 2016 general elections should not be treated as a ‘political gimmick’ whereby the opposition keep stating that if the Akufo-Addo administration had ‘common sense’, he would not have introduced the policy in its first term.
“When people talk about the Free SHS as if it is some political gimmick and they didn’t do it well… somebody even goes to the extent of saying, if we had common sense, we wouldn’t have introduced double-track. We have innovative sense and that is what led us to double-track and we have [a] courageous, discerning president who said 'I’ll take the chance, I’ll talk to Ghanaians, I will let them know that I have an innovative strategy and I will use that innovation strategy to show that every child goes to school,” Dr. Adutwum told Paul Adom-Otchere on Good Evening Ghana on Tuesday.
The minister added: "This innovative strategy by the President led to the raising of $1.5 billion which will be used to build all the needed facilities that will help in reverting all the double-track into single-track.’
He explained that this will also decongest the various schools that were congested from the 2017-18 academic year when the Free SHS policy was introduced.
“Go to Accra Girls and ask them, in the first year of Free SHS, because the school was already congested before we came, the school literally had 70 students in a class; the first year of double track, they reduced the class size to 50 students per class,” Dr. Adutwum indicated.
The Bosomtwe MP explained further that the innovative strategy has helped the Government of Ghana under the leadership of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to educate 400,000 more students in three years and has also increased teacher-student contact hours.
“In education, contact hours is everything. We do not look at the number of days the students went to school but you look at how many hours of instructions did they get,” he stressed.
The deputy minister suggested that the NDC has to study the system and understand what the government meant by the double-track system because it has led to the semester system and a longer school day.
Dr Adumtwum added that under the old trimester system, students go to school for nine-months while the new semester system under the Free SHS allows students to spend eight months in school.
“When we were doing the nine months trimester, the instructional hours per year was 1080 because [the] school day was shorter because school starts at 8 am, and closes at 2 pm and makes the contact hours shorter per day. When you go to the semester system of four months each, students get one hour longer each day due to the double-track...Schools had the chance to do from 7.30 am to 3.30 pm...This led to longer contact hours of 1134 with two semesters. How do you say 1134 is inferior to 1080?
“Teachers had a longer vacation but they make up for it because of the longer school day. In education we don’t talk about contact days, we talk about contact hours. So the system that gives teachers more time to work with the students cannot be inferior to the system where you have a shorter number of hours. There is nothing in the double track that is inimical to students' achievements in such a way that when you don’t have all your facilities you want to do away with it as if you were doing something bad to the students.”