Former Deputy Minister for Education and Member of Parliament for North Tongu Constituency, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has blamed the Akufo-Addo-led government for challenges currently facing Senior High Schools in the country following the implementation of the Free SHS policy.
Marvelled at why government is faced with such challenges, Okudzeto Ablakwa queried why President Akufo-Addo who claims to be competent is unable to resolve the situation at hand and rather opting for the double-track system, which he believes will ruin the country’s educational system.
According to him, when former President Kufuor introduced the four-year SHS programme without proper planning for infrastructure, the late Prof. Mills in a way to solve the challenge rolled out an Emergency Infrastructural Expansion Programme across all Senior High Schools to cater for the explosion in numbers.
The MP cannot fathom why the supposed competent government is unable to find a proper and lasting solution to the problem when the late President whom Akufo-Addo described as ‘Prof Do Little’ was able to handle a bigger challenge successfully.
He said, “I must also emphasize that contrary to claims by this Government, the current challenge is not new. The EMIS data reveals that for the 2010/2011 academic year, there was an even bigger gap of 182,337 due to the Four Year SHS Programme. However, thanks to proper planning and good foresight, President Atta Mills (God bless his soul) rolled out an Emergency Infrastructural Expansion Programme across all Senior High Schools to cater for the explosion in numbers. If the man Nana Akufo-Addo once described as Prof Do Little could handle an even bigger challenge successfully in 2010 without imposing the dreaded and dangerous Shift System on us, why can't the self-acclaimed competently superior Akufo-Addo/Bawumia Government do same?”
Government has explained that the two-track system is meant to cater for the spike in enrolment into Senior High Schools (SHSs) due to the free SHS policy.
The full implementation of the new system is expected to cost GHC323 million. The objective of the double-track system is to create room to accommodate all the students, reduce class size, increase contact hours and increase the number of holidays.
The system is similar to the academic calendar used in the universities with each track of students expected to be in school for specific days for each semester, go on vacation and then return for the second semester. While the first track is in school, the second track will be on vacation and vice-versa.
Explaining his view on the proposed system, the North Tongu legislator believes the double-track system is only being introduced by the government to run away from its annual three-term fees obligation in favour of two.
“I must also point out that the adoption of a Two-Semester Calendar at the SHS level for the first time in this country's history is simply a clever way of Government running away from its annual three-term fees obligation in favour of two. Put more succinctly - Government is unable to find the money to pay fees thrice so has opted to pay only twice per cohort. This shows how far Government is willing to go in cutting corners just to save face. Once again, placing political expediency ahead of Ghana's collective national interest,” he said.
He stressed that the double-track system will breed indiscipline, truancy and chaos at the second cycle institutions, something he claims the Mahama-led NDC government fought very hard through the abolishment of the shift system.
“We worked strenuously as a country under President Mahama to largely abolish the Shift System at the basic level because it ruined quality at that level and bred indiscipline, truancy and chaos. It is unthinkable and most reckless that what we have toiled to banish at the public basic level will now be repackaged for adventurous teenagers at the second cycle level,” he added.
He further called on all and sundry to reject the double-track system which is billed to kick start in September this year in order to save the country’s educational system.
“I have no doubt in my mind that the only option available to us as citizens is to vigorously and potently oppose this Shift System-cum-2 Semester toxic cocktail. If we don't, we should as well kiss goodbye to Quality Secondary education and begin planning the funeral of the death of all our Category A Schools. Under the current circumstances, none will be spared this plague - not PRESEC, Achimota, Wesley Girls, Mfantsipim, Adisadel, St. Augustines, Holy Child, Prempeh, St. Peters, St. Roses, Pope Johns - you name them, not one will survive,” he stated.
“If we allow the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia Government to go ahead with this unmitigated disaster, we will have only ourselves to blame. This is the time for the various Old Boy and Old Girl Associations to speak up and protect our almae matres. Perhaps the Missions may want to consider reclaiming their schools from Government in the face of this gross ineptitude so that a few schools can at least be saved for the future of our children,” he added.