As the clock winds down to the commencement of the new academic year, many schools across the country have begun preparations for the second year of the Free SHS programme, a flagship policy of the NPP government.
The situation is particularly unique this year as the government intends to introduce a new system to accommodate the high numbers caused by the introduction of the policy.
The double-track system has been proposed by the government as the most viable alternative to solve the issues of congestion and overcrowding witnessed in the first year of the Free SHS and avert the likelihood of a repeat this year.
It is reported that the 2017/2018 academic year which marked the start of the Free SHS policy saw the admission of over 90, 000 Junior High School Graduates. This academic year, 2018/2019, it is estimated that over 180, 000 students are expected to gain admission necessitating the implementation of the double-track system.
The system is structured in such a way that half the students admitted (Green track) into a school commence the semester with continuing students. The Green track students then vacate after about two months giving room for the Yellow track to come in for the start of their academic year then after two months are joined by the Green track students at a time when the continuing second and third-year students have gone on vacation.
The complexity of the system has caused apprehension among both school administrators and parents as registration of students who have gained admission begun in some schools today.
Accra Girls’ Hgh School
As at the time Ghanaweb’s team visited the Accra Girls’ High School at about 8 am in the morning, scores of parents and their wards from different parts of the country had trooped to the school to get begin the registration process.
School Authorities were at that time engaged in a meeting to sort out the details of the admission before attending to the parents some of whom had come to the school as early as 6 am with some travelling very long distances from other regions to get there.
Lack of communication between the school authorities and the parents led to some agitation by the parents as they claimed the school authorities failed to attend to them after hosting them in the Assembly hall.
Some parents were peeved the school authorities failed to inform them about the documents like NHIS, Birth Cert they had to attach to the result slips as part of the registration requirement.
Both parents and pupils, however, gave government the benefit of the doubt about as to the efficiency of the new system.
Accra High School
The mood at the Accra High School was quite the opposite as very few parents and freshers could be seen around the campus.
This could be attributed to a piece of information put on the notice boards of the School informing parents to come along with their children on Tuesday 11th September to commence registration.
There wasn’t much activity seen there and teachers and other staff went about their duties as expected.
St Thomas Acquinas SHS
Also at the St Thomas Aquinas SHS, School authorities had put up a notice urging parents to come with their children on Tuesday, September 11 for the registration process to begin.
Parents who spoke to the team were satisfied with the situation as most of them came to crosscheck if the names of their children reflect on the official list of the school.
They were optimistic that the process will be smooth with very little hitches.
Some newly admitted pupils who had also come to cross-check their names downplayed the impact of the double track system on their academics.
The team visited the Achimota SHS, one of Ghana’s oldest schools to evaluate the situation today ahead of the start of the double track system and the second year of FREE SHS.
It was observed that the process of registration was so smooth, students who were confirmed to be given admission to the school and registered successfully were given their uniforms and other attires needed to commence classes.
Many parents and their wards were seen to be going through the process without hitches with several teachers spotted across the campus assisting parents and pupils with what they had to do.
It must be stressed that school authorities in all High Schools visited in the capital declined to speak to the team on the basis of either being under immense pressure or not having the mandate to grant interviews.
Many parents who also spoke with the team insisted that despite their reservations with the double track system, there is no alternative at the moment that could be considered and implemented hence the need to allow the system to run while a lasting solution is enforced.