Scores of parents and their children yesterday trooped to the Black Star Square to lodge complaints of challenges they are facing with the Computerised School Selection and Placement System (CSSPS).

Most of them with brown envelopes, probably containing documents, took turns to state their challenges to officials of the free SHS Secretariat who were stationed at the Black Star Square.

The Daily Graphic sighted parents in long queues waiting for their turn to lodge their complaints.

Some of the complaints had to do with no placement of school, change of school due to distance from home and other personal reasons.

Other concerns were that despite obtaining good grades, some students were not placed in their preferred school of choice.

The officials took down the names of the candidates and their contacts,as well as reasons for change of school.

In addition, the students were made to state their first and second options of schools on Free SHS complaints forms.

In an interview with the Instructional Coordinator for the Secondary Improvement Project, Dr K. B. Tandoh, he urged Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) candidates who had been placed in senior high schools, as well as technical and vocational institutions under the double-track system, to begin their admission process immediately.

That, he said, applied to all placed candidates irrespective of whether they were under the Green or Gold Track.

No confusion

Dr Tandoh said there should not be any confusion whatsoever regarding the registration process by the candidates.

“It is just like everybody is admitted to school, they go to their school, they get to know the school, they pick up their admission letters and their first day of reporting is November 8, 2018,” he explained.

He said students who were placed under the Gold Track must go through the registration exercise now and wait for their date of admission, which would be on November 8, 2018.

Double-track school calendar

On the double-track school calendar, Dr Tandoh explained that the Green Track students would spend 41 days in school, which would be half of their semester and vacate for the Gold Track students to also report for their first semester.

“The Gold Track students will spend 81 days, making the full semester and will be joined by those under the green track after 40 days and the two tracks will be in school together for 40 days to end the semester,” he explained.

He stated that at the end of the 81 days making the semester, the Gold Track students would go on vacation, while the Green Track students would continue for the next 40 days in the second semester before vacating to allow the Gold Track students to also begin their second semester.

“The Green Track students will then stay home for 41 days before joining the Gold Track for 40 days to end the second semester,” Dr Tandoh explained.

Christmas and Easter breaks

Mr Tandoh said the structure of the school calendar meant that the students on the Gold Track would be in school during the Christmas and New Year season and would, therefore, be given a short break, “but as for the Green Track students, they would have been on holidays by then.”

He added that the same would apply during the Easter season for the green track students who would also be in school by then while the Gold Track students would be on vacation.

Unplaced candidates

The Deputy Minister of Education, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, advised those who qualified but with no placement to take advantage of the provision given them to go on the Internet to do self-placement.

He gave an assurance that there were enough vacancies to contain all qualified candidates and urged them to go for the self-placement to enable them to also enjoy free SHS.

"There are over 500,000 vacancies because of the double-track system and we had over 490,000 students qualified," he explained.

Contact hours

The deputy minister said the contact hours under the double-track system would be 1,134 hours per year compared with 1,080 hours under the single track.

Dr Adutwum explained, for instance, that a teacher was expected to teach a minimum of 18 hours and maximum of 22 hours a week.

He said the teachers would have more time to mark their scripts and also undertake professional development courses because instead of the 180 teaching days as was the case in the single track, now the teaching days would be 162.

Dr Adutwum explained that as and when the infrastructure needed in schools improved, the number of schools under the double-track system would also reduce and appealed to Ghanaians to support the system to work, adding that under the circumstances, that was the best solution.

Unqualified candidates

Touching on unqualified candidates, the Head of Public Relations at the Ghana Education Service (GES), Mrs Cassandra Twum Ampofo, said the 31,196 candidates who were disqualified were those who scored Grade Nine in either Mathematics or English Language.

She further indicated that the number of the candidates also included those whose raw score was 140 and below.