Govt rolls out double track system today – 192,775 students begin new SHS semester system

Prof Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa,  Director- General of the Ghana Education Service

Prof Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa, Director- General of the Ghana Education Service

A total of 400 schools across the country are today implementing the much talked about double track system with a total number of 385,550 expected to start the semester alternately.

The first batch also referred to as the “Green Track” numbering about 192,775 students are expected to report today and vacate, before the second batch also referred to as the “Gold Track” with approximately the same number commencing their semester on Tuesday, November 8.

With the new arrangement only 400 schools out of the existing 696 second cycle institutions are to implement the double track, with the remaining 296 schools continuing with the traditional single track system with an estimated number of 104,964 students.

Addressing a news conference here yesterday, the Director-General of the Ghana Education Service (GES), Professor Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa said the various schools were ready to accept the students for the commencement of their academic work.

He explained that as a result of the introduction of the double track system, the old school calendar of trimester had been changed into a semester system and all second cycle institutions would now be running on it.

Prof. Opoku-Amankwa explained that per the new semester system, both the first batch of the double track and all on the single track would spend a total of 81 teaching days on campus and vacate for the second batch to come in and also spend 81 teaching days.

He noted that a total of 490,514 students had received placement to all 696 schools as against last year’s figure of 424,092, stressing that, “As at the close of last Friday, a total of 363,394 out of the 490,514 students have printed out their placement forms with more in the process of printing theirs.”

Touching on measures put in place to forestall some of the challenges that confronted the introduction of the free Senior High School (F.S.H.S) last year, the Director-General said the double track system was mainly to address the challenge of congestion which became a feature with the introduction of the policy.

He said apart from decongesting the schools, it was also to offer the opportunity for as many students as possible who qualified to gain admission into their first choice school.

Furthermore, he said the GES had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ghana Health Services (GHS) to screen all students who had been placed into the various second cycle schools under the FSHS.

“Last year about 200,000 students were screened and those who were not screened would be screened in addition with the expected 490,514 students for this academic year,” he explained.

He outlined the health screening package to include: the medical history and general physical examination, vision assessment, hearing assessment, oral health cleaning, Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) screening, Tuberculosis (TB) screening, nutrition assessment and laboratory examination- Full blood count and urinalysis.

Apart from the medical screening to be undertaken, government has also contracted some organisations to embark on fumigation of all the 696 schools to deal with bedbugs and other insects.

“This is aimed at identifying health problems early for effective management to prevent any adverse effect on learning and also promote healthy lifestyle behaviour amongst students,” he added.

Prof. Opoku-Amankwa explained that GES had already commenced with the process to recruit a total of 8,872 teachers to augment the existing number to ensure the smooth take-off.

The number of teachers being recruited, according to him was arrived at following an appraisal of the manpower need of individual schools, stressing that, “This was done in collaboration  with our  partners- the Conference of Heads of Assisted Secondary Schools (CHASS) and those to be recruited would be distributed to their respective schools based on the requirements of those schools.”

He gave a breakdown of some of the areas where additional manpower would be required to include:  Biology tutors, 294, Core Mathematics, 819 tutors, Economics, 300 tutors, English language, 793, social studies, 366, etc,

“These new teachers are not being recruited exclusively to teach a particular track but would be mixed up with those who were already teaching to handle the tracks,” he emphasised.

Prof. Opoku-Amankwa seized the opportunity to dispel claims that vacation classes would be organised for students in churches, stressing that, “A number of issues were being considered to find out how to engage these students while they are at home, however, as it stands now, no decision has been settled on. Vacation would remain vacation for the students and their parents must take up the responsibility of engaging them while at home.”

By Cliff Ekuful, Accra

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