Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo has defended his Free Senior High Education system, introduced in 2017 to accommodate more students into the country’s education system.
The new system, which involves the ‘Double-Track’ system, has been blamed by some parliamentarians for the high rate of teenage pregnancies being recorded in some Senior High Schools in the country.
Speaking during his tour of the Volta Region, President Nana Addo said that he was not perturbed by the number of accusations from his distractors and that he would never rescind his decision on the implementation of the free senior high school education programme, which has entered its third year to help more Ghanaian young people to acquire senior high school education.
Rather, the president promised to use part of the oil revenue to finance the free senior high school programme.
However, many Ghanaians, especially those who could not afford to pay for school fees for their children and wards, hailed the implementation of the Free Senior High Education system.
During that period alone about 180 000 students who could have been left out, were enrolled through the new system, according to statistics from the Ministry of Education.
Journalists gathered that the programme was introduced in a haste owing to its political connotation, but the challenges of inadequate infrastructure and teachers reared their ugly heads.
As a result, the government introduced a shift system called the Double-Track System, which allows some students to go to school in September and vacate in November for the second batch to follow. The first batch is termed Green Track while the second is called Gold Track.
According to some officials of government, the introduction of the Shift System (Double Track) by the government was meant to accommodate more than 1.2 million additional students at the Senior High School level.
However, the Minority Ranking Member of the Education Committee of the Parliament, Peter Nortsy-Kotoe, has said that “within a spate of one year, alone (2018-2019) more than 1 433 girls at Senior High Schools across the country were impregnated and they dropped out of school”.
The minority in Parliament told a news conference in Accra on Tuesday that “one major disadvantage of the ‘Double-Track’ system is the area where many heads of second cycle institutions are indeed afraid to comment. That has to do with high rate of teenage pregnancies being recorded in some Senior High Schools”.
According to Nortsy-Kotoe, the long and frequent semester breaks are the major causes of the teenage pregnancies. Students spend eight weeks at school and the same length of time at home.
He noted that the Double Track also puts undue pressure on the non-teaching staff, especially the Kitchen and Administrative Staff, Headmasters, Senior Housemasters and Housemasters, who have not gone on any vacation since the introduction of the ‘Double Track’ system.
“The health of these staff is at risk and the lack of rest for them is negatively affecting their performance,” he said.
The parliamentarian also claimed that the long stay at home by the students during these long vacations exposed them to social risks such as teenage pregnancies, alcoholism, cultivation of deviant behaviours and lifestyles arising from peer pressure and abuse of drugs.