Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, the Minister of Education on Tuesday, said the double-track School calendar, which is due to start in September 2018, is a temporal intervention until the needed infrastructure is put in place.
The system, he explained, was an intervention that allowed schools to accommodate more students within the same facility, and was often motivated by its potential to improve overcrowding as well as to save costs relative to new school construction in the short term.
He however, stated that only 400 out of the estimated 696 Senior High Schools (SHS), would run the double-track calendar, urging the public not to be apprehensive, for the government was poised to upgrading the standard of the country’s educational system to make it better.
Dr Opoku Prempeh gave the explanations when his Ministry took its turn at the Meet-the-Press series of the Ministry of Information in Accra, to explain the implementation of the Free SHS Programme and preparations for the 2018/2019 academic year.
He said the SHS enrolment trends have been increasing steadily from 2014, and from a 30.7 per cent rise from 361,771 in 2017, and stood at 472,730 as at 2018, hence, the need to adopt a system that would ensure that no child was denied secondary education due to the lack of infrastructure.
The Education Minister stated that the government would need a total additional funding of over GH¢300 million, annually to successfully implement the policy, but indicated that “even if we have all the funds, we cannot build quick enough for the 2018 entrants”.
He stated that the introduction of the two-semester system similar to what was being run by tertiary institutions, comes as government’s policy of Free SHS encountered fresh and serious challenges.
The move to make education free at the second cycle stage in order to deepen access, had led to severe congestion in classrooms and pressure on already inadequate infrastructure.
The double-track school calendar, would therefore create room to accommodate increases in enrolment, reduce class sizes, increase contact hours, as well as the number of holidays, all to be achieved with existing infrastructure.
He said the new system therefore, sought to achieve this objective by dividing the entire student body and staff into two different tracks that would rotate in a way that while one set of students were in school, the others would be on vacation.
Dr Opoku Prempeh said the roll out plan would include stakeholder consultations, the development of a media strategy, training of headmasters and their staff, development of school schedules and the dissemination of school calendars.
He called for a stakeholder support to make the implementation of the calendar a success and to adequately mobilise funding for the expansion of the infrastructure to address the current gap.