Free SHS: 196,000 Gold track Students start classes today

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– About 196,000 first year students start classes today

FIRST year students under the DoubleTrack Free Senior High School (Free SHS)system, who wereplaced on the Gold Track, will start classes today.

The about 196,000 first year students expected to enrollare made up both boarding and day students.
Objectives of the double-track system
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.
2 Semesters in SHS 1 class
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.
Vincent Ekow Assafuah, Head of Public Relations at the Ministry of Education told The Finder that the students on Green Track, which started school on September 11, 2018 went on break on Wednesday November 7, 2018 and used Thursday and Friday to pack out paving the way for the second track students to report.
He explained that boarding students on the Gold Track were expected to report to school over the weekend, starting from Saturday November 10, 2018.
According to him, the day students will join the boarders today to start academic work.
He announced that 395 Senior High Schools that have been oversubscribed by students are running the system since the student numbers are more than the available infrastructure.
Assafuah told The Finder that about 174,000 students enrolled in the Green Track but the ministry was still collating the returns from the schools to the get the final numbers as some heads did not adhere to the instruction to enroll all students in the system.
423,134 students secure SHS placement  
The Ghana Education Service (GES) released the placements of 423,134 students who successfully made it under the 2018 Computerized School Selection and Placement System (CSSPS).
Final year day students benefit from Free SHS
Government has absorbed the school fees of all final year day students in senior high schools across the country as part of the Free SHS policy.
The policy initially only covered students who entered secondary school in 2017 and 2018.
Fees covered by Free SHS
In addition to tuition, which is already free, admission fees, library fees, science center fees, computer lab fees, examination fees, utility fees have all been scrapped.
There would be free text books; free boarding and free meals and day students would get a meal at school for free.
1992 Constitution on Free Education 
The 1992 Constitution of Ghana has some provisions that call for the need for free compulsory basic education. 
For instance, Article 25 (1) says: “All persons shall have the right to equal education opportunities and facilities, and with a view to achieving the full realisation of that right (a) basic education shall be free, compulsory and available to all; (b) secondary education in its different forms, including technical and vocational education, shall be made generally available and accessible to all by every appropriate means, and in particular, by the progressive introduction of free education”.
In Article 38 (1) stipulates that: “The State shall provide educational facilities at all levels and in all the regions of Ghana, and shall, to the greatest extent feasible, make those facilities available to all citizens. 
“The Government shall, within two years after Parliament first meets after the coming into force of this Constitution, draw up a programme for implementation within the following ten years, for the provision of free, compulsory and universal basic education”. 
The aforementioned provisions in the supreme law of the land clearly highlight the need for free compulsory and universal education at the basic level, therefore, gives credence to the implementation of the Free Senior High School (SHS) policy by the government.
Reduce huge financial burden on parents and guardians
The Free Senior High School/Technical and Vocational Education Training (SHS/TVET) policy initiative is intended to relieve the huge financial burden on parents and guardians to ensure that students who qualified for second-cycle education would have quality, equity and accessible education.
It also marks the end of the era when financial constraints were a barrier to the aspirations of children who wanted to access second-cycle education.
Free SHS to help Ghana achieve SDGs-4
The Free SHS policy is in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs-4) Target One, which stipulates that: “By 2030, all boys and girls complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education, leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes.”
It also states that by 2030, all girls and boys will have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education, so that they are ready for primary education.

By Elvis DARKO, Accra

ABOUT: Nana Kwesi Coomson

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An Entrepreneur and Philanthropist. Editor-in-Chief of www.233times.com. A Senior Journalist with Ghanaian Chronicle Newspaper. An alumnus of Adisadel College where he read General Arts. He holds first degree in Bachelor of Arts from the University of Ghana; Political Science (major) and History (minor). He has also pursued MSc Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Energy with Public Relations (PR) at the Robert Gordon University in the United Kingdom. He is a 2018 Mandela Washington Fellow (YALI) who studied at Clark Atlanta University on the Business and Entrepreneurship track. His mentors are Rupert Murdoch, Warren Buffet, Sam Jonah, Kwaku Sakyi Addo and Piers Morgan

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