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General News of Friday, 18 September 2020


Free SHS double-track, a lazy approach, a self-inflicted problem – Sammy Gyamfi

The National Communication Officer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), has said that the double-track policy under the Free SHS policy is a lazy approach any leader will use in solving a “self-inflicted problem”.

Sammy Gyamfi argued on Paul Adom-Otchere's Good Evening Ghana that with the implementation of the Free SHS, the NPP administration has failed to motivate teachers, provide learning material to the various secondary schools, invest in infrastructure and make sure that contact hours in the various SHSs are not reduced.

When told that Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum, the Deputy Minister for Education had announced that the Free SHS double-track policy had increased contact hours in schools, Sammy Gyamfi responded: “He sat in his air-conditioned office, designed a double-track policy which actually is a lazy approach [at] solving a self-inflicted problem, and he is drawing conclusions based on the policy he drew in his office.”

He continued: “I am telling you the reality in our schools today that contact hours have reduced significantly. The facilities are not there, we are having double track, parents are wasting a lot of money on [extra] classes fees…and so we are not deriving the benefits that we should be deriving from the Free SHS policy.”

To him, this lazy measure of a double-track system could have been avoided if Private Senior High Schools have been included in the Free SHS policy and the government had invested heavily in infrastructure.

The deputy minister had suggested that the NDC has to study the Free SHS 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 Yaw Osei Adumtwum explained on Tuesday to Paul Adom-Otchere 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.”

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