The Minister of State in charge of Tertiary Education, Professor Kwesi Yankah, has stated that the double track policy is meant to rescue some 180,000 students whose educational future could have been curtailed or jeopardised.
“The government is simply saying that these boys and girls are stranded; let’s be creative and rescue the children at a critical stage of their lives. Let’s be compassionate or else posterity will never forgive us,” he said.
He said just as the free SHS policy in its first year enabled 90,000 extra students to go to SHS, the double-track policy was meant to rescue some 180,000 students.
“The decision to implement a double-track enrolment policy is no way a signal that the free SHS policy is in tatters or has suddenly been put in reverse gear,” he added.
Addressing the 10th congregation of the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA) last Saturday, Prof. Yankah said: “Instead of using classrooms for only parts of the year, why don’t we optimise the use of space by teaching the first batch from September to December, and while the classrooms and other facilities lie idle, another batch comes in to use it?
“It simply says let’s not waste unutilised space while kids are stranded; let’s use space wisely by taking turns to use the same space. Let’s optimise the use of space; if for nothing at all, to save children otherwise lost at sea.”
A total of 3,387 students who had pursued diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate programmes at the university were graduated.
Mr Andrews Kwaku Nyarko was adjudged the overall best graduate, while David Elewosi-Gagbe and Zillah Boye-Doe came out as overall best graduating undergraduate and graduating diploma students, respectively.
Of the 2,301 undergraduates, 31, representing 1.35 per cent, obtained First Class.
Prof. Yankah said the government was of the firm conviction that the space adjustment policy was temporary and would come to an end when it was able to improve infrastructure in the next few years.
“Thereafter, the normal rhythm of schooling will be restored,” he said, and urged parents and guardians to buy into the policy to allow all segments of society to enjoy educational benefits.
“This policy is the way out to take children off the streets and eventually enable them to be admitted to universities such as the UPSA and other tertiary institutions.
“But even as we adjust the use of space to cope with numbers at the SHS, we should start the process of preparing the grounds for a large influx of SHS students who will be knocking on the doors of tertiary institutions in 2020 when the first batch of free SHS graduates climbs to the tertiary level,” he said.
The minister said in a bid to tackle the challenge, he had been holding meetings with heads of public and private universities to discuss institutional capacities and the need to plan ahead of 2020 when some 140,000 applicants were expected to enrol afresh in tertiary institutions.
“Tertiary institutions would need to create room for some 50,000 extra students; I mean extra to the normal numbers enrolling in the first year,” he added.
The Vice-Chancellor of the UPSA, Prof. Abednego F.O. Amartey, who also addressed the gathering, said the institution had developed a new five-year strategic plan, from 2018-2022, to serve as a road map to enhance its capacity to deliver excellent tertiary education.
He said the university had received accreditation to run new academic programmes, including Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Finance, Bachelor of Science in Business Economics, Bachelor of Science in Real Estate Management and Finance, Master of Philosophy in Finance and Doctor of Philosophy in Marketing.
Prof. Amartey hinted that another accreditation process which was at an advanced stage, when completed, would allow the school to run programmes in Master of Arts in Peace, Security and Intelligence, Global MBA in Impact Entrepreneurship and Master of Arts in Branding and Communication in the 2018/2019 academic year.