Government has adopted the double-track (semester/sandwich) system to cater for increased enrollment under its flagship programme, the Free Senior High School, due to deficit in infrastructure.
The new system is expected to cost GH?323 million (GH?323,061,739) to fully implement.
The cost comprises GH?267.2 million (GH?267,236,989) for teaching cost and GH?55.8 million (GH?55,824,750) for academic interventions.
The objectives of the double-track system are to create room to accommodate increase in enrollment, reduce class size, increase contact hours, and increase the number of holidays.
A document, titled ‘Implementation of Free SHS programme preparation for 2018/19 academic year’, proposed options to close 2018 Facilities Gap.
GH?1.3bn additional cost due to increase in enrolment
Without the double-track system, government will require GH?1.3 billion (GH?1,338,083,639) to provide all that is needed to accommodate the increase in numbers.
Breakdown of GHC1.3bn additional cost
The breakdown include 622 six-unit classroom blocks at a cost of GH?404 million (GH?404,300,000); 181,993 student furniture (Mono Desk), costing GH?81.6 million (GH?81,896,850); and 3,730 teachers’ furniture (Table and Char Set), estimated at GH?3.6 million (GH?3,655,400).
The rest are 415 dormitories, costing GH?539 million (GH?539,500,000); 51,868 bunk beds valued at GH?41.4 million (GH?41,494,400) and 8,872 new teachers, which will cost GH?267 million (GH?267,236,989).
Govt can’t build quickly enough
According to the document, even if all the funds are available, government cannot build quickly enough for 2018 entrants.
On how to fund the double-track system, an appeal has been made to development partners for support.
In addition, partial securitisation of Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) receivables for infrastructure development has been proposed, as well as capping GETFund at 25%.With expected enrolment of 472,730 in SHS this September, the total seats available amount to 290,737.
181,993 Gap exist
A gap of 181,993 exists, which calls for the double-track school calendar system to absorb students.
As it stands now, only 90,000 spaces are available for the 2018 September intake.
Proponents believe the exigencies of the situation call for a shift system to be introduced where there will be adequate use of the existing classrooms.
The new system will run in all the categories A and B senior high schools in the country. The new programme creates a calendar of two semesters in a year for the SHS 1 class, containing 81 days per each semester and 41 days of vacation for a sandwich class.
Over 8,000 teachers are being recruited to handle the sandwich classes because teachers would not be deprived of their holidays. A software has been developed to change the timetable to make room for the new system.
Under the new system, teaching hours are increased from six hours per day to eight hours pay day. Teaching hours are expected to increase from 1,080 hours per year under the current single-track system to 1,134 hours per year under the proposed double-track system.
Teaching days reduce to 162 days from 180 days
Teaching days will reduce from 180 days in the existing system to 162 days under the double-track system.
Average vacation for teachers per year would increase from 84 days (12 weeks) currently to 112 days (16 weeks) when double-track is implemented. The number of days in boarding will drop from 265 days in the existing system to 225 under the new system.
The length of school day, which currently starts from 8am and ends at 2pm, will now start from 7:30am to 3:30pm.
What is a double-track school calendar?
The double-track calendar is an intervention that allows schools to accommodate more students within the same facility, and is often motivated by its potential to improve overcrowding, as well as to save costs relative to new school construction in the short term.
Countries that have adopted a double-track
Countries that have adopted the double-track include Australia, Costa Rica, Japan, and Kenya, and in the United States of America, over 3,000 schools still use the system in places like California, which started it in 1960s, Hawaii and North Carolina.